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Press Roundup; Game Balls; Weekend Recap

Press Roundup
The press box was positive about the victory against the Great Danes of Albany - those that showed up. (Where was the Express-Times?)

Lehigh Defeats Albany in Convincing Fashion
Morning Call:
Youth Is Served in Lehigh's Win over Albany
Times-Union (upstate NY):
Lehigh steamrolls Albany

"Thompson, who went in at tailback after Eric Rath suffered a strained knee on Lehigh's first series, ran for 89 yards and one touchdown and scored twice more on receptions as the Hawks impressed in their last tuneup before Patriot League play begins next week at Holy Cross.

''I'm not surprised by Marques' play,'' Lehigh coach Pete Lembo said. ''We felt coming into the year that we had two good backs. But heading into the first game, Marques pulled his hamstring and was not ready to play a whole lot. Fortunately, he got healthy and, with Eric getting banged up against Liberty, we figured that they would go about 50-50 today.''

''I prepared myself and the O-line opened up a lot of holes,'' Thompson said. ''It was new to me to get so many touches. I have been waiting for a day like this.''

''I don't make excuses about injuries,'' Lembo said. ''I believe in the depth of our team and in the kids we put out there, regardless of who's hurt. But I'd lying to you if I said our injury list at this point of the season isn't a lot longer than I'd like it to be.''

Tom Alfsen Gets Awards
First of all, DE Tom Alfsen got recognition as the Patriot League defensive player of the week for his 8 tackles and his fumble recovery which he rumbled back for a TD. Congratulations, Tom (we'll have to get a snaly nickname for you soon since you're routinely getting Game Balls from here!)

That's the perfect segway to this weeks' Game Balls! They proudly go to:
Sophomore RB Marques Thompson (149 total yards, 3 TDs)
Junior QB Mark Borda (13-20, 248 yards, 3 TDs in 3 quarters)
Junior WR Gerran Walker (145 total yards, 1 TD)
The entire 'O' Line: (for 37 points and only 1 penalty)
Sophomore RT Jason Russell
Senior RG Jason "Rocky" Morrell
Senior C Justin Terry
Junior LG Adam Selmasska
Senior LT Rob Sandie
Senior LB Anthony Graziani (12 tackles)
Junior FS Kaloma Cardwell (10 tackles, 1 forced fumble)
Senior DE Tom Alfsen (8 tackles, fumble recovery for TD)

Congratulations to all for a great game!

One look back on Lehigh/Albany from the Nest
Albany was a tough team that never gave up for 60 minutes. They were very physical and it showed in the injury list after the game - by the 4th quarter our starting QB Borda and our starting RB Rath were knocked out. Something I'll be awaiting nervously this week is the injury report for the Holy Cross game.

Personally I have liked what I've heard the past 2 games from Lehigh on offense. The "O" Line has grown in leaps and bounds against 2 physical teams. Borda sounds good, and has made more good decisions than bad lately. Eric Rath and Marques Thompson seem to becoming a formidable 1-2 punch from the backfield. And finally WR Gerran Walker seems healthy and ready to claim the #1 wideout position for good.

I'd like to see just a bit more focus from the "D", especially early in the game. Although Albany surprised a bit offensively (they uncharacteristically passed the ball a lot, and even lined up in a Wishbone for heaven's sake), I feel the "D" could have played better more consistently at times so far. However, the "D" has only given up more than 20 points to 1 team this year (#12 ranked Villanova).

It seems like some fans, though, that a 44-14 win over Albany with nearly 400 total yards, 1 penalty and 0 turnovers, is somehow inconclusive evidence that Lehigh's offense is alive and well. I really don't understand it. All you have to do is look at the numbers against Albany and against Liberty to see the improvement over Stony Brook and Villanova. Liberty and Albany, granted, are not Colgate and Delaware, but they're not St. Francis and LaSalle either.

Others inexplicably are still fighting the Borda vs. Keating QB battle from camp. To which I say: It's over. Borda is the starter. Get used to it. In the last 2 games, he's gone 33 for 47 with 1 interception and 4 TDs. And though Borda forces the ball in traffic more than I'd like sometimes, 3 TDs last week don't lie. He is playing well.

Lehigh in the polls
Lehigh jumped in the polls!

Sports Network #17
ESPN/USA Today #17
Any Given Saturday #18
Dopke.Com #22

With Colgate getting upset on the road against Yale 31-28, Lehigh has all of a sudden become the top Patriot dog in the 1-AA rankings. It's taken a long time, but it feels good to be back. I'm hoping that we can keep this uneasy crown on our head through the rest of this year.

Weekend Recap
Time for my favorite piece of the week: where I guessed right on the games of the weekend, and where I guessed wrong.

Really right:
Harvard/Lafayette. Predicted score: Harvard 41, Lafayette 23. Real score: Harvard 38, Lafayette 23. Two weeks in a row I've predicted the Lafayette score almost to the point!

James Madison/Hofstra. Predicted score: JMU 27, Hofstra 13. Real score: JMU 31, Hofstra 21. (Not really *that* close, but I'll take it.)

Should have been right:
Southern Illinois/Northern Iowa. I got the fact that it would be a crazy-close game. I got the fact that UNI would play as if their lives depended on it. What I didn't get right was that SIU would intercept the ball at the 2 yard line, and that UNI's playoff ambitions would likely be sunk in the first week in October.

Colgate/Yale: I didn't expect Yale to run and pass the ball seemingly at will against Colgate. But if Yale's kicker didn't get a 37 yard field goal - his career best - with time expiring, I don't think Yale would have lasted an OT.

Was I ever wrong!
New Hampshire/Villanova: Not only did I not get the fact that UNH would light up the Wildcat defense for 51 points; not only did I not get the fact that Villanova's offense would score 40 points (I don't think anyone would have laid money before the game on either happening); I also thought that Villanova would win. (Boy does Villanova miss LB Brian Hulea, out for the season against Penn.)

Eastern Washington/Portland St. If I had read the injury report saying that PSU's star running back Ryan Fuqua would not play, I wouldn't have taken PSU over EWU and won. But I didn't, and I did, so I didn't.

Finally, a preview of the Lehigh/Holy Cross game
From the Morning Call:
Lehigh Preps for Holy Cross

"Lehigh football coach Pete Lembo insists that the significance of the Mountain Hawks' game Saturday at Holy Cross is simply ''that it's our first league game; it's a championship game, a must-win game.''

"But it's also a game that was highlighted on Lehigh's schedule since it was first released, and not because it's the Patriot League opener.The game at Fitton Field in Worcester will be the first meeting between the Mountain Hawks and former defensive coordinator Tom Gilmore, who is now the head coach of the Crusaders.

A well-done piece by Keith Groller, highlighting what can only be called the "Benedict Arnold Bowl". For those who don't know, former Lehigh defensive coordinator Tom Gilmore left Lehigh and took his defensive staff with him in a hurry away from Bethlehem on not the best terms.

Could it mean that Lembo wants to exact some payback? Or does it mean that Gilmore would love nothing better to deal the Mountain Hawks a serious blow to their Patriot League title hopes and 1-AA playoff dreams?

Coming soon: Lehigh/Holy Cross Preview; University of Central Florida in the Patriot League?; My favorite 1-AA Columnists


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