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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

''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 on 29 carries, finally reached the end zone on fourth down to give JMU a 14-10 lead.As it turned out, that was the game-winning score.

''The penalty had something to do with extracurricular activity after the play,'' Lembo said. ''I'm certainly not going to criticize the officials because it was an emotionally charged game and there was a lot of pushing and shoving down there. It was a tough game to control.

''At the same time, you hate to see a penalty like that in a critical situation when there was a lot going on the entire first half. You hate to see those kind of things happen.

"Did the flag cost his team the game? Lembo wouldn't go that far, but said, ''When you look at how our defense played over 60 minutes, had we held them to a field goal there we might be a lot happier right now. It was critical.''

"JMU tried... going for it on fourth-and-one at midfield with 2:45 left. Lehigh middle linebacker Owen Breininger stopped Hines cold... ''I was surprised only because their defense was playing so well at that point,'' Lembo said.

Breininger, a junior from Palisades, said his play and the earlier goal-line stand typified the defense's determination.''We just didn't want to let them beat us,'' he said. ''We felt we picked the worst spot to play our worst game of the year last week. We wanted to come out and show people what we could do.''

"It was a great goal-line stand," said Breininger, "It really gave us a lot of confidence."

Lembo said this game was a better reflection of what this team was all about.''We're disappointed we're not going to Furman,'' he said. ''But we proved to a lot of people that we belonged in this tournament.''

''I told our seniors after the game that I could not ask for more than what they gave us mentally, physically and emotionally,'' Lembo said. ''The leadership from the senior group was fantastic. You look back on our 2003 seniors and they set the tone for this year's group. Now, I believe this year's senior group did the same thing.''

'It was everything you could ask for in a football game,'' Lembo said of Saturday. ''This is the type of game you look around at your team and say 'This is why I came to Lehigh.' I had a good feeling about how the kids were playing all day long.''

''Our guys feel good about bringing another title and playoff game to Lehigh, but they are not satisfied,'' Lembo said. ''We'll go to work on next season right away. Our guys have to hit the books in the next couple of weeks and then it's time to get Ed Ruisz and his staff cranked up.... We hope to get out and do another great job of recruiting and before you know it, it will be time for spring football.

"[Tristan] Lawrence, [Tom] Alfsen, linebacker Anthony Graziani and defensive back Karrie Ford were all first-team Patriot League choices. All are seniors, although Graziani intends to use the year of eligibility he has left."

[Graziani, coming back next year? It would be an unbelievable boost to the 2005 Hawk defense if that were the case.]

Overall, an effort to be proud of. Once again, Lehigh is never an easy out in the playoffs.

Game Balls
This week's shiny game balls go to:
Junior QB Mark Borda (23-36, 215 yards, 0 INTs despite huge pressure)
Sophomore RB Eric Rath (131 all-purpose yards, 1 TD)
Junior WR Kevin Zebluim (7 catches, 57 yards)
Senior OLB Anthony Graziani (10 tackles, great pursuit)
Senior SS Karrie Ford (9 tackles)
Sophomore DE Matt Mohler (4 tackles, 1 sack in relief of Tom Alfsen)
Special Teams:
Senior P Kyle Keating (5 punts, 36 yard avg, 2 inside the 20)
Freshman K Matt McNeils (2 FGs, including a 43 yarder)

Congratulations! And did you notice only 2 players - Keating and Ford - will have used up their eligilibity next year! If that's not a positive sign for next year, I don't know what is!

A week from today, check this space for my Lehigh Football Nation Player of the Year, and some brand-new awards: Offensive Top Hawk, Defensive Top Hawk, and Specialist Top Hawk.

More Awards
Before the playoffs, Lehigh had 15 players named to the all-Patriot League team - more than any other Patriot League school. Another great credit to Lehigh and some great players.

First Team:
Senior TE Adam Bergen
Senior RG Jason "Rocky" Morrell
Senior C Justin Terry
Senior DE Tom "Alf" Alfsen
Senior DT Tristan Lawrence
Senior OLB Anthony "Graz" Graziani
Senior SS Karrie Ford
Senior P Kyle Keating

Second team:
Junior QB Mark Borda
Sophomore RB Eric Rath
Junior LG Adam Selmasska
Junior WR Gerran Walker
Senior DB Neal "NBG" Boozer-Gallman
Junior FS Kaloma Cardwell
Junior DB Andrew Nelson

Congratulations! It's a great honor! Personally I think "NBG" got squeezed out in a numbers game. I thought he had a fantastic year and deserved to be on the first team. I think most teams facing Lehigh maybe tested him once or twice a game, and then didn't throw his way - a great example of this was the Villanova game.

Coming up this week: Predictions of this weekend's playoff games

Coming up next week: Lehigh Football Nation Postseason Awards; A peek at 2005


Anonymous said…
LEHIGH was robbed by a stupid officiating call at Goodman. Which defence stuffed JMU "six" (6) times at the one yard line? LEHIGHS DID

The JMU players and coaches no doubt know who the best football team on the field was. It's too bad that a Furman rematch didn't pan out.

Who needs scholarships to prove that a lot of hard work can go a long, long way! Well done Lehigh, hell of a game! Hell of a game indeed. Steven
NBG said…
I just want to thank you because I feel as if I was squeezed out of the first team too because of my stats. Neal Boozer aka NBG

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