It was supposed to be RB Chase Edmonds' day.
The questions around Lehigh, as ever, surrounded the defense. Would they be able to slow down Edmonds? Would he score two touchdowns, or three? Would they hold the almost-certain-NFL-player to only 200 yards?
In all the talk about Edmonds, people forgot about two pretty good runners on the Lehigh side: senior QB Nick Shafnisky and sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone.
Bragalone, for the second straight week, had another amazing game, getting 192 yards rushing, zero negative rushes, and 3 touchdowns. Shafnisky ran for 112 yards and added 3 touchdowns of his own.
It would be a game where Lehigh would not need to punt - the first game since Bucknell in 1999 where that was the case. That's because they ran over Fordham, 58-37, going up at one point 51-9 before giving up a bunch of late scores.
Next week Lehigh will host Bucknell for the right to clinch an FCS playoff shot, and the chance to do no worse than tie for the Patriot League championship.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016
Fordham at Lehigh Game Breakdown And Fearless Prediction: Remember getting Chase-d Out of the Bronx?
Remember when Fordham RB Chase Edmonds set a Patriot League rushing record against the Mountain Hawks? I do - it happened just last year, just the sort of Halloween "treat" I'd rather live without.
"Edmonds came out of the locker room like a man on fire, and played like it," I wrote. "Two 14 yard runs set up Fordham's go-ahead score, and he would rush for 100 yards in the 3rd quarter, ripping off a 60 yard touchdown run to give Fordham a 38-21 lead and capping off three straight touchdowns for the Rams."
Another less-publicized reason for Lehigh losing in the Bronx last season? Unforced errors.
"Unfortunately, we're still our own worst enemy," head coach Andy Coen said afterwards. "Whether its penalties or turnovers, you can't beat a good team with those. They're trying to learn that lesson. If you're going to keep turning the ball over more than everybody else, it's hard to win games."
I'm guessing that the Lehigh football players are aware of these two events from last season.
When you read and hear the interviews with him at media day this week, he seems to want the game to start right after the interview, to go on the field and get the game over with right now.
Though he knows he and teammate junior WR Gatlin Casey are on top of the total receiving yardage list in FCS, that's not what he wanted to talk about on Wednesday.
"I haven't really put much thought into it," Pelletier told Greg Joyce of Lehigh Valley Live. "I just know good things are going to happen if we prepare the right way. We focus on each day to get better. We're confident if we put ourselves mentally and physically taking care of our body, good things are going to happen."
There was lots of "focusing on getting better, taking it one game at a time" talk from both Pelletier and head coach Andy Coen this week, as you might expect. But their body language said something else: when will Saturday get here?
Thursday, October 27, 2016
This quote, taken from the 1923 student newspaper detailing the first-ever official football meeting between Lehigh and Fordham, won't be something that's repeated in the student newspaer in their recap this weekend. In fact, the fifteen points scored in that 1923 game, a 9-6 Lehigh win, might very well be outdistanced in the first five minutes of the game this weekend., and it's a guarantee that Fordham and Lehigh will be completing their first passes well before the 3rd quarter.
It would be stunning to see a 9-6 final in this game this weekend in large part because all signs point to a game which will be a full buffet for fans of offense.
If Lehigh and Fordham meet their season averages for total offensive yards, there's a chance that both teams' offenses combined might exceed 1,000 yards, while Fordham averages 32.3 points per game, and Lehigh 40.3. Even if this game didn't loom enormously in the Patriot League title chase - which, of course it does - this would be a terrific game to watch in terms of offense.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
"Back to Normal" seems to be the theme of this week's Top 25, with my top 9 unchanged from last week.
The biggest team to fall in my poll was definitely Montana, whose 45-34 defeat to Northern Arizona was even more resounding than the final score might indicate. The Lumberjacks in this one held a 45-20 advantage before letting up two touchdowns at the end of the game.
The Griz have frankly underwhelmed all year to me, allowing a team like St. Francis (PA) to hang around for no good reason, running up the score against hapless competition like Mississippi Valley State and Sacramento State. With their second loss to a Big Sky opponent and nothing all that impressive in their schedule, it was an easy call to drop them more than 10 points in my poll.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
But every big win this 2016 team gets, many of the fans who have been here a while keep whispering:
Like an Adele Spotify channel, you can't help but be reminded of 2011 when you go to Murray Goodman Stadium or Fitton Field or wherever they're playing. The popular online game between fans on the Lehigh football message board is: Who was better, 2011, or 2016?
The answer is still, beyond a shadow of a doubt, 2011 - for now - but the only reason for that is that 2016 is still in the midst of writing their story. Yet it can hardly be helped that fans look at the potential of this 2016 team and think, with apologies to Adele, that they are rolling in the same sort of wins that they were in 2011.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
(Photo Credit: Jay Anderson/Worcester Telegram)
It was early in the second quarter, deadlocked at 7. Sophomore QB Brad Mayes, picked the starter as senior QB Nick Shanfisky would be the backup to let his injured leg continue to heal, would get a drive going with an 18 yard pass to junior WR Troy Pelletier. Two plays later, sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone would run a counter play left, escape a few tackles, and surge for a 28 yard run into Holy Cross territory.
You could feel some momentum building as Mayes would connect on a 4th and 7 to Pelletier to get into the Holy Cross red zone, and again when he would rifle a ball to junior WR Gatlin Casey over the middle. There was even more when sophomore RB Micco Brisker would keep his legs moving - and his offensive line, pushing - until he reached the end zone.
Up 13-7, on the extra point Shafnisky, who holds during extra points, got a low snap, and scrolled right. Looking up, he saw junior DE Tyler Cavenas, wide open in the end zone, waving his hands. To salvage the free shot at points, he lofted the ball to Tyler - and he came down with the ball.
It ended up a very good day for the Mountain Hawks, where positive thing after positive thing kept happening for the Mountain Hawks, some planned, some unplanned. Despite a game where weather seemed like it might make for a tough go, Lehigh wasn't slowed down at all in their 46-14 win.