Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lehigh 38, Lafayette 21, Final

(Photo Credit: Facebook/Will Rackley)

 Down 14-3 and 21-10, early on it looked like Lehigh's playoff hopes, already dimmed by the Mountain Hawks' loss to Colgate, might be done in completely at the hands of their bitter rivals, who were looking for their first win over Lehigh after being unsuccessful in their last four tries.

Then Lehigh put together their best half of football of the year.

Scoring 28 unanswered points, and shutting out the Leopards in the second half, the Mountain Hawks finished the regular season with a resounding 38-21 victory.

Ultimately, it wasn't enough to get to the postseason, even though it would have been for the first time since the playoffs expanded to 20 teams that a team with 10 Division I wins would not qualify for the FCS playoffs.

But that shouldn't obscure a fantastic effort by Lehigh's class of 2013 to stay undefeated against "That School in Easton" and their achievement of being only the 10th team in school history to break the 10 win barrier.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Flashback: November 20th, 2010: Lehigh 20, Lafayette 13

(Photo Credit: Joe Gill/The Express-Times)

(Note: I wrote this two years ago after Lehigh beat Lafayette in an impressive defensive struggle in the Mountain Hawks' last trip to Fisher Field.  The "more" link takes you to the rest of the original article.)

Two years ago at Fisher Field, J.B. Clark clutched onto the Lehigh/Lafayette MVP trophy throughout the post-game press conference as if someone were going to snatch it away from him.

This year in Easton, bearded senior LB Al Pierce, a man of fewer words than J.B., didn't have the hardware with him after Lehigh's 20-13 victory over Lafayette in the 146th edition of "The Rivalry". He won the MVP trophy, though - the first defensive player to do so since 2000, when CB Matt Salvaterra did so - but when he spoke to the media after the game, the trophy was nowhere to be found.  When asked about the award, he said that it hadn't really "set in yet".


Somehow, that was fitting for a senior leader that is a lot more about letting his play do the talking on the field than in a press conference. (more)

Game Breakdown, The 148th, Lehigh at Lafayette, 11/17/2012

We break down the Lafayette game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

Checking Twitter and Facebook is not exactly an exact science when it comes to trying to gauge how fired up a team, or a fan base, is.

After a slow start to the trash talk for the 148th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, though, there's evidence that the Hate is making a late-week rally as the sheer inevitability of the Rivalry game tomorrow has built the tension.

Still, the biggest question for both Lehigh and Lafayette is: Which team will show up for four quarters?

If there's one consistent theme from both sides, it's that people have been waiting for both teams to play four quarters of well-executed football.  Will either be able to do so?

Flashback: November 21st, 1987: Lehigh 17, Lafayette 10

Since becoming an undergrad at Lehigh back in the late 1980s, I first heard about the historic nature of the football team and "The Rivalry" through the stories that fellow students would share.

And from then until today, the overriding memory of the final time a football game would be played at Taylor Stadium was that it was one of the coldest days for the Game that anyone could remember.

"I remember it being one of the coldest games ever," Mark Redmann recollected, "with strong Northwesterly winds and the temperature hovering around 20.  By the end of the game, the stands were half empty because most of the fans just couldn't take the cold.

"Fortunately, several of my fraternity brothers snuck in flasks to help fend off the chill."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Game Preview: The 148th: Lehigh at Lafayette, 11/17/2012

(Photo Credit: Ed Koskey, Jr./Special to the Morning Call)

When you study "The Rivalry" as long as I have, the overall trends of Lehigh students, Lafayette students, the football players, and the citizens of Bethlehem and Easton break apart, and the individual stories from each specific instance come to the fore. 

Specific "game to end all games", detailed game riots,  freezing games, or unusually hot games get broken out, sometimes breaking from the normal expectations of The Rivalry in general.  The Rivalry endures, and there are similar stories of seasons being made, or broken, or riots, or order, but occasionally games do have variation.  Not every Rivalry game is the same..

The story of the 148th meeting of the most-played rivalry in all of college football is probably more different than anyone might have ever imagined before the season.

For Lafayette, the story is one of unmet expectations, unbelievable tragedy, and, ultimately, they hope, redemption.  For Lehigh, the story is one of nerves, loss of destiny, and, ultimately, they hope, redemption.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Flashback: November 17th, 1962: Lehigh 13, Lafayette 6

It was the end of an era - in more ways than one.

Sure, Lehigh and Lafayette students had performed midnight raids on the others' campuses plenty of times before, and done plenty of shenanigans in the towns of Bethlehem and Easton, some above board, some not.

"The Rivalry" has always involved pranks, including the occasional arrest for painting the Lafayette Leopard Brown and White, for example.

But in 1962, at a smaller scale yet predating the big stuff that would be coming in six short years at Kent State ("Four Dead in Ohio", Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young), it seemed like there was a rising level of tension between law enforcement and students in the air in the game between Lehigh and Lafayette in 1962.

"Over 400 Lafayette students marched on Easton Nov. 15th after the annual pep rally and bonfire before the Lehigh game and had to be dispersed with fire hoses," the Lafayette reported.  "Observers said the demonstration was the most riotous display in more than 30 years."

Flashback: November 23rd, 1912, Lehigh 10, Lafayette 0

"At last Lafayette approaches the real climax of her football season," the Leopard paper of the time, The Lafayette, stated on November 22nd, 1912.  "The football world always watches this contest with the closest interest for it is the greatest of the annual struggles between small college teams.

"To the ardent supporters of these two colleges, even the Yale-Harvard game is but a minor incident in comparison to the deciding of this championship.  No matter how many games Lehigh may lose during the season, she always tackles Lafayette with a sturdy confidence and hope of victory.

"No matter how many great games Lafayette wins in the season she always enters this struggle ready to fight, knowing that upon the outcome depends the real success or failure of the season and knowing that her opponents will be worthy of every possible effort."

After an era of near-complete dominance by Lafayette in "The Rivalry", in 1912 the roles of the Brown and White and the Maroon and White were suddenly reversed, and the student writer at The Lafayette knew it. 

"Sweeping victories for the past three years have caused Lafayette to assume a rather superior feeling toward Lehigh," the reporter said.  "Not so this year.  Lehigh has the best team that has represented that institution in the past ten years."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Housekeeping before the 148th Meeting

I have some things to do before the 148th this weekend in Easton - namely, two weeks of players of the week (since I forgot for Holy Cross in my zeal to cover the Colgate game) and some links wrapping up last week's game.

Something that has muted the party  this week has been the heartbreaking story of Lafayette QB Zach Zweizig, whose father, 56, tragically died from complications of a stroke earlier this week.

My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.  I love "The Rivalry", I really do.  But some things transcend it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

My FCS Top 25, 11/12/2012

My vote follows below the flip, along with the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Cup poll for this week.

Lehigh At 12 in Coaches Poll, 14 in Sports Network Poll

Everyone surrounding Lehigh hopes that they're "in with a win" against Lafayette this Saturday. 

This week, the two major nation FCS polls gives them even more hope that the Mountain Hawks are in the field of 20 with a victory in the 148th meeting with the Leopards.

With Lehigh's rank at No. 12 in the Coaches' poll, and No. 14 in the Sports Network poll, and assuming, of course, that a win will only help their chances and not hurt, it seems more likely than it did 24 hours ago that the Mountain Hawks could be in the field of 20.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday's Word: Blessed

This will probably be the shortest "Sunday Word" ever. 

It will not deal with the playoff field, or much about the game Lehigh lost last weekend.

There are a lot of disappointed fans, players, and people around the football program.  The Patriot League championship this year is Colgate's.  They earned it.

But the season is not over.

And it's time, instead, for Lehigh to count their "blessings".

Playoffs will happen, or they won't.  10-1 will happen, or it won't.  But this team is so "blessed".
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