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Press Roundup; Pundits Pick Lehigh; Injury Report

A huge game tomorrow as Lehigh plays Harvard on national TV. Hey, man, I love the Red Sox too, but what's more important, the Red Sox on their march to another inevitable World Series title, or the game that's going to determine the direction of our beloved Lehigh's football season? (Besides, the game starts at 12:30 EST, and the Red Sox don't start until *at least* 1PM.)

As promised, here's the official Lehigh Football Nation injury report, followed by the Lehigh Football Nation Press roundup and digest.

Injury Report
Junior FS Courtney Elder (Shoulder, Out)
Sophomore DB Daynin Blake (Hip, Questionable)
Junior LB Travis Stinson (Shoulder, Questionable)

As banged-up as our secondary is, I have complete confidence in junior FS Julian Austin in the starting role for Elder, while sophomore Erine Moore steps into Blake's backup position. Stinson's injury is more worrisome, with junior Chris LaMont stepping in if Stinson is unable to go. All in all, the injury report looks a lot better than it did at the beginning of the year. My prediction is unchanged.

Pundits
The pundits are picking Lehigh in a close, tightly-fought game:
Matt Dougherty, Sports Network: "A strong effort by Borda and the Lehigh offense will be the difference, and the Mountain Hawks will go to Harvard Stadium and put an end to the Crimson win streak again. Prediction: Lehigh 31, Harvard 27."
Eric Gemunder, I-AA.org: "The Crimson offense has been potent this year, averaging over 30 ppg, but they've also let up nearly 30 a game on defense. I don't think their defense will be solid enough to stop the Lehigh attack, and am picking the visiting team to come away with the win. Lehigh edges Harvard."

Press Roundup
Allentown Morning Call:
Harvard's Streak Not Lehigh's Focus
Easton Express-Times:
Petrosky, Lehigh Look Forward to Tough Challenge
Brown & White:
Hawks Prepare For Crucial Match At #15 Harvard
Boston Globe:
Hands Off (reg req'd)

Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game at Harvard could be against Muhlenberg, Kutztown, or just about anybody, and the Mountain Hawks would be just as anxious.

"It gives you extra motivation to bring home a win in front of your family," said Lehigh nose guard/long snapper Eric Rakus, who was born in Springfield, Mass., moved to Suffield, Conn., and expects to have about a dozen family members in the stands at 30,898-seat Harvard Stadium.

"We're just champing at the bit to get on the field again," said junior nose tackle and long snapper Eric Rakus Wednesday during Lehigh's weekly media luncheon at Starters Pub.

"You always want to put on a show when you're playing in front of people you grew up with, people that love you. We definitely respect Harvard, 13 (wins) in a row is nothing to sniff at. We'd rather be the one to break that streak."

"I hope that the players can look back at last week and realize that what we didn't do in practice may have had an impact on how we played," Lembo said.

He said Tuesday's drills went well, but he also asked the team after practice: "Can we get a little bit better [Wednesday], can we get better on Thursday, can we do it for the next seven weeks, three days a week? The jury is still out."

"Without a doubt, we're excited to be going up there to play in front of a huge crowd and try to end their streak," punt returner Greg Petrosky said. "It should be a great atmosphere and we're looking forward to it."

"Lehigh is the best team we'll have played," said [Harvard Coach Tim] Murphy. "They're one play away from being undefeated [they lost in OT to Delaware]. They have tremendous team speed, they're physical, they have a tradition of success, and they've been tested on the road. They've got a very talented offense, they've got probably the best quarterback we'll see this year in Mark Borda, along with an explosive wide receiver [Gerran 'G'] Walker. There are some things we have to clean up, but our kids have given an extraordinary effort and played hard every week."

Then again, maybe Lehigh learned a lesson in the loss to Delaware and Cuff.

"That one still stings," Rakus said. "We're going to use it as fuel."

"This is a team that is every bit as good as Delaware, if not better," Lehigh coach Pete Lembo said... [B]oth have great surrounding casts. Harvard's offensive line over the last five years has been one of the best in the country. I remember when we played them in 2002, you couldn't even see [Lehigh defensive lineman] Mike Gregorek because they were so big up front."

Tim Murphy: "O'Hagan has done a super job for a young kid. He's far from perfect but he's made the plays in crunch time."... With primary receivers Rodney Byrnes and Corey Mazza out indefinitely with injuries, Murphy and the 15th-ranked Crimson will see who steps up at practice this week from among four or five candidates.

Harvard coach Tim Murphy said Dawson's 1,302 yards last season came in 10 less-than-complete games because the Crimson were so far ahead most Saturdays that Dawson sat out large blocks of time late in games.

"He's very, very similar to Delaware's Omar Cuff [who ran for 101 yards and three scores against Lehigh]," Lembo said. "They are both very quick, very explosive. They don't waste a lot of movement.

Junior defensive back Julian Austin thinks they can shut down the high-powered Dawson... "He's pretty good but our defense should be strong enough to contain him," Austin said. "We have been working hard this week on tackling, knowing our assignments and playing with more energy. We should be ready."

"It has all the makings of a great football game," Head Coach Pete Lembo said. "If there was ever a time we needed to put 60 minutes together, it's this week."

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