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Summing up Lehigh/Villanova

Summing up Lehigh/Villanova
How can a loss be so frustrating, yet still have positives? Like many other fans in Lehigh Football Nation, I'm struggling with what looked like very good team performance against the #8 team in the country, yet.. without Royce Morgan's serious injury... and Borda's interception... offensive holding and false start penalties which killed offensive momentum... Lehigh could have won this game.

Here's the press' take:
Morning Call:
Villanova rallies to nip Lehigh
Nothing wrong with LU's Effort
Lehigh falls to Villanova in Nailbiter

Some really fascinating stuff in these postgame reports:

"Clearly back on their heels defensively for most of the first half, the Wildcats kept listening to the audibles in Lehigh's no-huddle offense and began to sniff some plays beforehand as a result.

"A couple of times they yelled out 'yellow 19,' I think it was," Talley said. "And it was a screen (every time). So we started yelling 'screen' every time they yelled 'yellow 17,' or 'yellow 19.' And every time they yelled it out, it was a screen play. So obviously what they have to do is dummy that call."

This doesn't reflect well on the coaching staff, if the opposing coach is smart enough to figure out the play selections. It wasn't said by Talley that stealing Lehigh's signals caused them to win the game, but he implied it heavily. Certainly the game statistics bear him out.

"I get the feeling that you guys are sort of going in the direction of a tale of two halves here," Lembo correctly observed in his post-game press conference. "We didn't feel like that. We played a Lehigh football game, we played our butts off for 60 minutes.

"And (giving up) 219 yards of offense to a team as good as (Villanova is), I think our defense played their butts off."

Only the untrained eye could view this game as a collapse by Lehigh, Lembo intimated.

It is true that Lehigh did play their butts off for 60 minutes, and the Mountain Hawks unquestionably played tough. I have to back Lembo here, in the sense that I watched the game and saw how worn down the troops looked by the end of the game, especially defensively. I don't think of this game as a Lehigh collapse.

However, Lehigh did look like two different teams at times on Saturday. The first half they looked like they could go toe-to-toe with anyone in 1-AA and come out on top. Yet by the end of the game, there were still too many dumb penalties of both sides of the ball, one huge interception, and one golden missed opportunity on the goal-line stand that made this game a loss.

From this fan's view, the issue is still getting the offense and defense to gel more effectively. This team has lots of talent and can beat anybody in 1-AA.

''Any loss is a tough one,'' Lehigh tailback, Eric Rath, said. ''You don't want to come out of any game feeling like we do right now. We played well. We just didn't finish. That's our motto this year: finish. But this ought to give us a lot of motivation and get us ready for big games over the rest of the year.''

Amen brother Rath.

The View from the Nest
The message boards are not being very kind to Borda and the coaching staff for 'losing' this game. But from this fan's view, losing such a close game to Villanova early in the year is not a cause for alarm just yet.

Villanova's "D", you will see the rest of the year, is one of the best, if not THE best, in 1-AA nation. I'm amazed that Borda and the offense were able to rack up nearly 300 total yards against them, let alone 16 points (should have been 17 if one of the PAT's were not blocked). Last Friday, wouldn't everyone have been cheering if we could see the future and see that the offense would give us 3 scores?

To me, the turning point of the game was clearly losing Royce Morgan. Before then, Lehigh was getting good pressure on Burroughs, forcing turnovers, and dominating the game. When Morgan came out, Terry Butler and Burroughs started running though the tackles seemingly at will, resulting in 2 of the TDs. That, and the fact that Talley had figured out our playcalling system.

Overall, the Engineers were also really banged up by the 4th quarter, no doubt, offensively and defensively. Watching the game this was evident.

Although both units are still looking to really gel and break out, even a Lehigh team not firing on all cylinders gave #8 ranked Villanova all it could handle. That's something real positive to take out of this game.

My fearless prediction is that by the Colgate game, this loss will be forgotten, and we'll be looking forward to a possible "rematch" with Villanova in the playoffs. As long as we start a winning streak at Liberty, and keep on winning.

Game Balls
It is way too late for me to be doing this, but here are the game balls for Saturday:
Senior DE Tom Alfsen (9 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 TFL)
Sophomore RB Eric Rath (128 all-purpose yards, TD)
Senior TE Adam Bergen (5 catches for 56 yards)
Senior DT Tristan Lawrence (6 tackles, 1/2 sack, 1 TFL)
Junior DB Kaloma Cardwell (9 tackles)
Junior DT Royce Morgan (5 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, 2 TFL)
Senior DB Neal Boozer-Gallman (1 tackle, 1 pass defensed, holding J.J. Outlaw to 40 yds receiving)

Coming up this week: Liberty in Lynchburg, VA, or "What do Flames and Jerry Fallwell have in common?" Also: Lehigh/Lafayette special on PBS


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