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Fiction: I-A Playoff Results, 12/17/2004

Peach Bowl
The Michigan Wolverines scored the first major upset as they upset the Texas Longhorns, 34-31 in an exciting atmosphere in the sold-out Georgia Dome. Michigan RB Mike Hart was the MVP with 181 yards and 1 TD. QB Chad Henne added TD passes to RB Braylon Edwards and WR Tyler Ecker. Texas jumped out to a 14-0 lead early, but Michigan stormed back with 17 straight points. Texas then kicked a FG to go into the break tied at 17. After Hart's TD to open the second half, Michigan recovered a big fumble by Texas QB Vince Young which set up a FG to make the score 27-17. But Texas wasn't done. RB Cedric Benson broke free for a 46 yard TD run, cutting the deficit to 3. Then, after a Michigan 3-and-out, Texas marched the length of the field, with QB Young sneaking a TD with 2 minutes left, giving the Longhorns a 4 point lead. But then Michigan went to work, mixing the run and pass well. Ecker got the winning TD pass with 10 seconds left to seal Michigan's win.

Sun …

Lehigh Football Nation now on SportsBlogs.Org

SportsBlogs.Org is now carrying Lehigh Football Nation on its page! For the lazy ones of you, that means you can now get your fix of Lehigh Football Nation on SportsBlogs.org, as well as being able to download my blog content (and many others) to your PDA or cell phone as well.

Of course, you'll still want to link to this great page in order to get your Lehigh football news first here. But I wanted to announce this exciting development before I get to congratulating James Madison for their I-AA championship, and continuing my fiction series on the I-A Playoffs.

And I promise, none of the main characters will die during the course of the games, unlike the new Harry Potter book.

Fiction: I-A Playoff Results, 12/16/2004

Outback Bowl
In Tampa. the Hawkeyes of Iowa dominated a Pitt team 31-7 that really reflected Iowa's strong finish to the year. Pitt QB Tyler Palko was running for his life all day, going 19-40 with a fumble and two interceptions. Hawkeye QB Drew Tate on the other hand passed for 300 yards, with a pair of TDs to MVP Ed Hinkel. Hinkel ended the day with 11 receptions for 186 yards as well.

The Hawkeye faithful who made the trip got their money's worth in a stadium with 45,000 strong, and will be looking forward to next week's matchup.

Alamo Bowl
In a sold-out Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, TX, the WAC representative Boise St. put a major scare into USC, but ultimately lost a shootout 42-34 to the Trojans. QB Jared Zabransky surprised the Trojans on the first play of the game with a bomb to WR Drisan James, and took a 21-10 lead into the half against a stunned USC squad.

After recieving the kickoff in the second half, however, USC's QB Matt Leinart and RB Reggie Bush came o…

Fiction: I-A Playoff Results, 12/15/2004

New Orleans Bowl
Memphis demolished North Texas, 42-11, in a game that wasn't even that close. Played in the Superdome in front of a modest crowd of 26,000 fans or so, RB DeAngelo Williams powered for 212 yards and 3 TDs, giving him the New Orleans Bowl MVP Trophy.

Continental Tire Bowl
A sold-out Bank of America stadium witnessed a thriller as lower-ranked Georgia upset the Hokies of Virginia Tech 25-19 in triple overtime.

Fans throughout the south will need some serious valium after this nailbiter.

In this battle of the south, the score was 13-6 in favor of the Bulldogs with 6 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Then Tech Brian Randall finally broke a 24-yard run to the outside, putting Tech in the red zone. Taking no chances, six plays later, RB Cedric Humes powered in on 3rd-and-goal to knot the game up at 13 with 3 minutes left. Bulldog QB David Greene led a 3-and-out, leaving the Georgia defense to hold onto the win. Driving to the 30 yard line, a 47 yard Brandon Pace field …

Lehigh Football Nation Players of the Year

Press Release
On Thursday, December 9th, the fan blog Lehigh Football Nation announced their awards of outstanding achievement to members of the Lehigh Football team. The awards are: Top Offensive Hawk, Top Defensive Hawk, Top Special Teams Hawk, and Player of the Year.

Top Offensive Hawk: The 2004 Top Offensive Hawk award goes to junior QB Mark Borda. In a year where he had to battle for the starting job in August, Mark left little doubt that he was "the man" after accumulating three Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors and eight Lehigh Football Nation game balls, as well as getting on the second team All Patriot League Offense and Sports Network's Walter Payton award "watch list". With 24 TD throws, 1 rushing TD and only 6 interceptions on the year, Mark compiled a 62% completion rate to go with his 150.8 QB rating on the year.

Mark also brought a quiet confidence to the offense this year, epitomized by the come-from-behind performace against Yal…

2-for-2

Two for Two
Incredible, but true. I somehow managed to pick both games right this weekend. Mind you, I has James Madison scoring 20 points, and Sam Houston St. scoring 44, but considering my pathetic playoff picking record, I will gladly take it.

Congratulations to James Madison and Montana, who now will play Friday for the I-AA Championship in Chattanooga, TN.

(If only Lehigh had stopped the Dukes on 7th and goal...)

I'll go ahead and pick the I-AA Championship game now. James Madison does the unthinkable, and gets a national championship. Rascati, Hines, and company will bowl over the Montana front four, without any way to stop them. Montana QB Ochs rallies for 2 late TDs to keep it close, but the Dukes cap off a memorable year by getting the championship.

James Madison 27, Montana 24

This week: Find out the winner of the I-AA Championship Game, And My Mock I-AA Playoff results.

I-AA Semifinal Predictions

I Looked It Up
Apparently, there is no law to prevent me from picking the remaining three I-AA playoff games. So, I'll be doing that right now.

James Madison at William & Mary. The Dukes have done it all year with defense and special teams play - evidenced by their blocked FG and extra point being the difference at Furman. William & Mary were getting stomped last week until Delaware inexplicably went away from their rushing game, and gave up 21 points in the 4th quarter to tie and eventually lose to the Tribe.

I don't think the Dukes make the same mistake as the Hens. The Dukes have played with a chip on their shoulders through this whole playoff season, and all that stands in their way to Chattanooga is the matter of revenge against the Tribe (to whom they lost a heartbreaker at home, 27-24, in early November).

Think Giants/Bills, 1990 Super Bowl. JMU 20, W&M 19.

Sam Houston St. at Montana. Sam Houston St. could have the most powerful offense in I-AA, with I-…

Playoff Results

A Game-Picking Monkey
This is only one of the people who picked better than me this weekend. Fortunately for me, almost everyone else also only got one game right as well. A quick recap

The One Game I Got Really Right
James Madison/Furman. I hesitate to put my quote here that makes me look like a genius, but I'll do it anyway. "I see a hard-fought defensive battle, coming down to a big kick return or a big turnover. Furman will be the victim, and JMU will shock the Paladins." That turnover was a blocked FG that lead to the winning TD, and I'll gladly take the win.

The Game Which I Should Have Got Right
William & Mary/Delaware. To be fair, I thought this would be a really close game, and it was a thriller. I thought I had the game in the bag with a 21 point lead in the 4th quarter... but then Delaware unravelled like Kevin Brown in Game 7 of the ALCS. First was QB Sonny Riccio's huge mistake which led to a Tribe TD. Then, they let the Tribe's QB Lang…

Fiction: I-A Announces Playoff and Bowl Pairings

Dateline: Kansas City, Missouri. The NCAA made an an official announcement regarding the second straight year of shafting a deserving team for playing for the national championship.

"We are deeply saddened that a terrible, rigged BCS system has prevented 3 deserving undefeated teams to play of the national championship.

"But rather than apologize for an antiquated, rigged system of determining a I-A champion, we've decided to make a bold, visionary decision that will piss off virtually everybody in power, but instead make sportswriters, coaches, and current and former players cheer. We have decided, in our power as the governing body of the NCAA, to institute a playoff system modelled after I-AA.

"Since the inception of the I-AA playoffs, we have watched from afar while I-AA has produced thrilling games, great competition, and an undisputed national champion. We admire their style of football, even if we don't shower them with nearly as much money and recognitio…

I-AA Playoff Predictions

I-AA Playoff Predictions
Without any further ado, here they are. Here in eastern Pennsylvania, if you are a I-AA football nut like me, you can catch the Delaware/William & Mary game on CN8 at noon, and then, assuming you haven't got enough, you can then check out New Hampshire against Montana at 3:00PM on ESPN2.

Delaware at William & Mary. Here in the east, this is the marquee matchup. Two teams who are both members of the A-10, who have faced each other earlier this year (Delaware coming out on top 31-28 at the Tub). Advancement in the playoffs; A-10 supremacy; and if all that weren't enough, a Lambert Cup also may be on the line (given to the best Eastern I-AA Football team).

So who to take? Both teams scored come-from-behind victories last week. The Tribe will be looking for revenge; Delaware, however, has been here before. W&M has Payton-award candidate Lang Campbell at the helm; Delaware has QB Sonny Riccio who led a gutty drive to take the lead on Laf…

Fiction: I-A Decides on Playoff System

The following is a lark I've decided to pursue in these pages. I decided that it might be fun, and instructive, (if not about Lehigh) to issue fictional "press releases" that Division I-A football has decided to adopt the wonderful I-AA method of having a 16-team playoff.

I figure, if the real world won't let potentially 5 undefeated teams duke it out on the gridiron for the national championship, the very least I can do is create a fictional world where it's done for everyone. What's really sad is, in reality, at least 2 and potentially 4, teams will end up undefeated at I-A season's end, and only 1 will be considered national champions.

It seems ludicrous to me that a bowl system that is supposedly so "healthy" is furiously hoping teams like Hawaii win as to ensure that no teams *with losing records* make the bowls. The funny part is, a playoff this year, with 5 undefeated teams, one defending champion, and a slew of other solid teams woul…

Press; Game Balls for Lehigh/JMU; Awards

Press for final Lehigh Game of 2004
All press accounts, and all accounts of Lehigh's performance in the postseason, were positive and complimentary of the Mountain Hawks' performance this past Saturday.
Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh Regains Pride in NCAA Playoff Loss
Lehigh Can Look Back With Pride
Easton Express-Times:
Lehigh's Stand Falls Short

Quotes:
''We came up a little bit short,'' Lehigh coach Pete Lembo said. ''In a game like this you want an opportunity to win the game in the fourth quarter and that's what we got. We couldn't punch it in when we needed to, and that's disappointing. But I'm extremely proud of our kids and coaches. From our coordinators down to the scout team, they gave it everything they had.''

"But a controversial personal foul penalty against Lehigh's Josh Cooney gave JMU a fresh set of downs from the 2. The Dukes were denied three more times before Hines, who finished with 191 yards rushing o…

A new I-AA Diary; Playoff Predictions

A New I-AA Diary
To see my play-by-play diary of the Lehigh/James Madison game on I-AA.org, click on the link below:
I-AA Diary: Lehigh vs. James Madison

Again, I felt like Lehigh played a very good game on Saturday against a great team. Lehigh has nothing to be ashamed of with a great effort, with no turnovers, awesome defense, and brave offense standing up to James Madison's physical play.

Proud Patriots
Lehigh and Lafayette both played excellent games against the best conference in I-AA, the Atlantic 10, and in both cases nearly came away with the victory. On this blog you won't see much praise of Lafayette, but they need to get their props for scaring the entire state of Delaware on Saturday. A laughingstock to the rest of I-AA before Saturday, they clearly showed that they were the equals to Delaware last Saturday and very nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the 1st round.

Overall, despite the losses, both schools did the Patriot League proud, and can enter the offseas…

Heads Held High

Lehigh lost in the first round 14-13 to a tough, physical JMU squad that came ready to play. It was a defensive battle for 60 minutes, and the defense and offense came up with a great game that unfortunately fell short.

But the Mountain Hawks have every reason to hold their heads high this year, with a co-championship with Lafayette, a I-AA playoff berth, and a final game which the entire team can be proud of. Lehigh went toe-to-toe with a team that had more skill and more acclaim than Lehigh, coming from the toughest I-AA conference in 2004 - and was in a position to win at the end of the game.

Watch for game balls, season wrapups, All-Patriot, and more, tomorrow and in the next few days. Though I may just want ot forget about my playoff picks tomorrow, I'll probably go over them tomorrow too (though, I'd like to know anyone who picked New Hampshire to upset Georgia Southern *and* Eastern Washington to upset Southern Illinois.)

Still, 3-5. Yuck.

More tomorrow.

Playoff Press Roundup; Editorial; Playoff Predictions

No in-game commentary
Since I'll be covering the game one more time for I-AA.org, there won't be any in-game commentary this weekend. You'll be able to read my diary of the game on I-AA.org on Sunday.
For those of you who won't be able to catch the game live, there will be a few different ways:

Video
WFMZ-TV (channel 69 in the Lehigh Valley) live
Radio:
ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 AM

On the internet, there is your regular audio broadcast... but... you can also get the video broadcast of the game as well! Not a joke:
Link to Yahoo! Broadcast ($$ required)

Also, VCR alert: for those of you with CSTV, you'll be able to see the Lafayette/Delaware game. Worth a shot to watch that game (see my predictions later for details).

Playoff Press Roundup
Just wanted to add 3 more pieces to my media roundup for the "Redemption Match at Murray Goodman". (I think the Easton Express-Times guys were paid by the word this week):

Easton Express-Times:
Borda Has Arrived As Lehi…

Lehigh/James Madison Preview

Lehigh/James Madison Preview
Here is what you've been waiting for.. the special Lehigh Football Nation preview of Lehigh and James Madison. The Dukes will be, at this point, the best team Lehigh has faced all year.

They are a team, like Lafayette, that runs the ball to make their offense work with a multi-faceted rushing attack. Although they don't have one player that will kill you consistently, their team has solid scholarship talent across the board and features strong team play. The Mountain Hawks will have their work cut out against this squad.

Before jumping in the pool...
I wanted to feature some press on the upcoming game. Both the Easton Express-Times and Allentown Morning Call have been writing so many pieces it's almost impossible to keep up.

Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh Happy To Be Home
Dukes Surprised, But Happy, To Be on Road
Easton Express-Times:
Lehigh Not Only Gets In, It Gets To Play At Home
Mountain Hawks Ready For Another Gridiron Battle
Richmond Times-Disp…

Bulletin Board Material

Print this... and put it on the Bulletin Board for Saturday
I am in the middle of working on my Lehigh/JMU Preview, and I read more bulletin board material than I've ever read in years covering Lehigh. I have to pass it on here.

[Scott, babe, I drop your name in my I-AA diary last week, and this is the thanks I get?]

Scott Garner, I-AA.org

"Let’s break down all 16 teams in the field, shall we, as only the High Priest can.

No chance in hell

If any of these teams win the national title, then we’re talking about Revelations-level events here. Fire and brimstone, cats and dogs living together, you know, real Wrath-of-God type stuff.

Colgate was a nice story a year ago, but the Patriot League has had its moment in the sun, and I’m not even done casting aspersions on every egghead school in I-AA (you’re coming up soon, Lehigh).

Cal Poly, oops, I mean Lehigh
Odds of winning the title: Same as the odds that Gilligan has of hooking up with Ginger.
What they’ve got going for them: the good na…

Press Update

Press Update
Tune in for my Lehigh/JMU update later tonight. However, more importantly, I'm being featured in a USA Today piece about "SuperSpectators", in regards to my Lehigh blog:

USAToday:
SuperSpectators

You can click on my "baseball card" to get interesting facts about me and the blog.

I believe it's also part of the print edition - check your local newsstand! I'll be buying a couple dozen copies myself.

Lehigh/Lafayette Wrap; Game Balls; Last week's picks; Playoff Stuff

Lehigh/Lafayette Wrap
With the I-AA playoff selection on Sunday (where Lehigh drew a home game against James Madison), and my I-AA diary on I-AA.org, I didn't have time to do a press roundup. For a blow-by-blow summary of the game, click the link to read my piece.

Before going to the press of Lehigh/Lafayette, doing the game ball thing, and putting this game to rest, I'd like to add my commentary on Lehigh's play last Saturday. As I implied in my I-AA.org piece, I felt that the game hinged on Lehigh's turnovers and miscues. Not just Eric Rath's fumbles, but muffed snaps and Borda's dropped balls as well. Simply, Lafayette is a good team who will kill you if you turn over the ball. We did, and they did.

That's not an excuse. But I feel that had Lehigh been able to execute their offensive gameplan effectively, we would have seen a different game. As it stood, the defense was on the field for effectively 4 straight drives at the beginning of the second half. I …

Agony to Ecstasy, Part II

Part II
As I was entering the post-game press conferences, I mingled with some of the beat writers and national I-AA sports writers. We had just seen Lafayette beat Lehigh 24-10 to grab a co-championship of the Patriot League with Lehigh, and win the automatic playoff berth.

The discussion was Lehigh's playoff chances. Could it happen? Would it happen? Would we need some help from around I-AA nation? How much? Should we be rooting for Stephen F. Austin and Sacramento State? How far away is William & Mary? What was the weather like in Statesboro, Georgia in December?

The mood was decidedly "undecided". But I don't think anyone there was thinking, "home playoff game".

As the Saturday results came in, it didn't look like Lehigh was getting a lot of help. My friends said outright, "I don't think it's going to happen." But I was defiant. I thought it was still possible to get into the playoffs. We were 9-2 and had played some tough t…

AGONY TO ECSTASY

We're hosting a playoff game.

I-AA Playoff Field

James Madison is coming to play us. James Madison! Coming to play us! At Murray Goodman! WOW!

This isn't a typo. This isn't some cruel joke. This is the real deal. The seniors have another meaningful game to play.

I am incredibly happy for the seniors. They have at least one more chance to wear the Lehigh football uniform. At home too!

More information later! What a weekend - from the depths of despair to - a chance at redemption.

Crushed

Crushed
A year ago at this time, we were waiting for the I-AA playoff committee to give us a hand and put us in the playoffs since they couldn't get the job done. Now it's a year later, and after a crushing loss to Lafayette 24-10 (a game where missed snaps and turnovers were huge), we're back in the same boat. We need a hand to get in the field of 16 this year, and I honestly don't know if we will get a shot or not.

I can choose to take this space to mourn, or to talk about our playoff shot.

I'm going to mourn later. There's lots of time to mourn. I'm going post the contenders right here, with reasons to take them, or dump them.

Contender #1: Lehigh
Take them because: All their wins have been against Division I schools. Quality wins versus Yale on the road, Fordham and last year's I-AA Championship runner-up Colgate at home. Only losses to then-ranked Villanova and archrival Lafayette. Won eight straight before losing last game of the year. 5 wins agai…

November Surprise; Press go-round; Predictions of Other Games

November Surprise
There will be no in-game commentary for the game tomorrow, since I'm going to be in the press box for the Lehigh/Lafayette game. I'm going to be covering the game for http://www.I-AA.org, and there are rules concerning the dissemenation of the game directly from the press box.

As a public service, however, I'll list the places where you can catch the 140th meeting:
TV:
WFMZ channel 69 Allentown
Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh (DirecTV 627, DISH Network 448)
Radio:
ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320,
On the Web:
http://www.lehighsports.com ($$ required).

Press go-round
Here's the big list of press around the web regarding Lehigh/Lafayette. You'll please forgive me if I don't cut-and-paste these - there are just too many:
Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh's Stability Has Been Its Strength
For Lehigh, Results Trump Expectations
Easton Express-Times:
Hawks Looking to Settle Matters For Themselves
Lembo - Proven Winner
Veteran Players Make Issue of Loss in '02
Brown &a…

Lehigh/Lafayette Preview - the 140th Meeting

Lehigh/Lafayette Preview
Just in case you weren't already juiced up for this game, here's my preview of the 140th meeting for all to read and enjoy.

Lehigh Injury Report
TE Steve Burant (OUT)
OL John Reese (OUT)
FS Kaloma Cardwell (OUT)
OLB Jon Guynes (OUT)
DT Royce Morgan (OUT)
LB Randy Rovesti (Doubtful)
OL Rob Sandie (Questionable)
WR Gerran Walker (Questionable)
DE Tom Alfsen (Questionable)
CB Neal Boozer-Gallman (Questionable)
OLB Jason Murray (Questionable)

I seriously doubt we need to worry about any of the "Questionable" Mountain Hawks not playing in this huge game this weekend. Of note, however, is Randy Rovesti being upgraded to "Doubtful" (he had been out the past three weeks). Perhaps he will see some time - it will be interesting to see.

Scouting Lafayette
The Leopards, predicted by everybody to finish no higher than fifth in the Patriot this year, are now in the position of playing for a share of the Patriot League Championship and an I-AA play…

"The Biggest Game in I-AA Saturday"

Matt Dougherty's column
I haven't finished my Lehigh/Lafayette 140th Meeting preview yet, but national I-AA columnist Matt Dougherty of the Sports Network has a pretty lengthy preview of the game:

Matt Dougherty: Week 12: Agony and Ecstasy

In it is the following quote, to be re-broadcast loud and clear through the media, blogosphere, and internet:

"I’ll be traveling to this game for many reasons. It’s a close drive on a busy Saturday. It’s a rivalry. The winner gets the automatic berth to the playoffs. And It’s the biggest game in I-AA Saturday."

Emphasis added!

Tune in later today for my (in the spirit of Fox News) "fair and balanced" preview of Lehigh/Lafayette.

Lehigh/Lafayette - Through the Years

"The Game", The Rivalry, The Blue-Collar Brawl
This weekend Lafayette will host Lehigh at Fisher Field, unfolding yet another fascinating chapter in this storied rivalry. For both Lehigh and Lafayette fans, this is a huge game as it is every year, made even more huge with the tantalizing possibility that there will be an I-AA playoff bid on the line as well. Win the game, and you're in the playoffs. Lose, and you will be sweating on Sunday.

Today I'm going to spend the time to recount the history of this storied rivalry - how this game became the most-played rivalry in college football, and how the "blue-collar brawl" defines Lehigh fans.

Harvard/Yale: The "Other" Game
To the uninformed, the dull, and the most of the national college football media circuit, many folks think that Harvard/Yale is to be considered "The Game". Ha! Lehigh/Lafayette has more on the line (especially this year), is more historic, and has a longer and richer histor…