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My Take; Press Roundup

The picture here (courtesy of Jon Chase of WG Sports Photos) is pretty representative of how the game went - no matter what Harvard tried to throw at us, they simply couldn't stop us when it counted. Lehigh is playing better going into league play, and it's now when the real season begins, when we play our all-important league games in order to win a Patriot League title and possibly get a I-AA playoff berth.

Harvard turned over the ball a lot, and made some mistakes, and we capitalized in a big way. Of course we can't count on teams every week giving us +4 giveaways to give us the victory. But I was very encouraged how every player, to a man, really brought up the level of their play this week in periods during the game. They showed flashes of the sort of team that they can be. A team with an offense that can be awfully tough to stop. A team with an aggressive, hard-hitting defense. Speed on special teams, getting huge chunks of yardage while pinning Harvard deep on many occasions. There were mistakes, and things that needed correction. But the team that left the field this weekend for certain has the ability to win the Patriot League, and even has the potential to host a few games in the I-AA playoffs, and maybe even... - if they can keep the same level of skill and concentration in the remainder of the season.

Next week we play our league opener against a much-improved Holy Cross Crusader team who dominated Yale 22-19 in the Yale Bowl last weekend. At 2-2, their only losses were to Harvard and Delaware, and they are not the easy out they used to be. It's going to be a big game, and I will be there as a part of I-AA.org. I can't wait!

Here's a quick press roundup. You're going to love these headlines! Lembo and the troops seem like they're really enjoying this win, as well they should!

(Note: I'm going to try to put these together on Sundays now, even though I really like to include Keith Groller's Monday note on Lehigh as well. More important to get the news roundup out there first, I figure.)

Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh Puts An End To Harvard's Streak
Easton Express-Times:
Borda, Lehigh Soar In Victory
Brown & White:
Hawks Defeat #15 Harvard
Boston Globe:
Crimson Run Out Of Steam In Rout

Lehigh's offense was unstoppable as it stomped Harvard University 49-24.

The Mountain Hawks grabbed a 14-0 ... [b]ut Harvard shifted the momentum by halftime, picking off Borda three times and pulling within 14-10 on quarterback Liam O'Hagan's 22-yard touchdown run and a 36-yard field goal by Matt Schindel. [S]aid Lehigh coach Pete Lembo, "He's one of the best quarterbacks we will face this year, maybe one of the best in the Northeast. It scares me to think we're going to have to face him for two more years."

Borda wasn't thinking about records at halftime... [h]e threw two picks in the second quarter, one leading to a field goal, allowing the Crimson to get back within 14-10.

Only Graziani's interception in the end zone early in the second quarter kept Lehigh from really crawling into a hole.

"When they're in scoring position and we get a turnover, obviously it's a big play," Graziani said. "That's a huge play."

"The guys elected me to be a leader," said Borda, who wound up hitting 25 of his 39 total passes for 347 yards and two touchdown throws. "I take that real seriously, on the field as well as off the field.

"I was talking to myself at halftime, saying I had to pick it up... It just means more to me when the guys look at me in the huddle, and I'm struggling, and I can't let them see any doubt. I expected to be a difference in the game, and it didn't happen. So, I had to regain my confidence."

"I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who talks to himself," cracked Lehigh coach Pete Lembo, whose team improved to 3-1 with its second straight win. "I was pleased with the perseverance. I was pleased that nobody put their heads down, particularly Mark Borda. We made a decision as a coaching staff that we were going to be aggressive in the second half, even though he (Borda) didn't get off to a good start. He's just got such outstanding character and he's got such a humble approach and even keel to him. We continue to have a lot of confidence in him and believe in him."

"Mark and I just seemed to be on the same page the whole second half," said Zebluim, who caught five passes for 87 yards and a TD after halftime.

With the defense shortening the field with takeaways, the offense became unstoppable. And when Harvard ended the 28-0 run with its own TD, Lehigh answered again.

"The next goal was to do a great job with ball security," said Harvard coach Tim Murphy, discussing the original plan of attack for his 2-1 team. "We failed miserably."

By day's end, Lehigh had answered plenty of questions about itself.

"I'm pleased with how we stayed after them in the second half," Lembo said. "We talked all week about how Harvard was a team that started slow but finished strong. That's a problem we had the last few weeks. So I was glad we were able to continue to score and match theirs."

Clifton Dawson, the Crimson's star running back who suffered a bruised hip in last week's overtime win against Brown, came in averaging 171 rushing yards on the young season but could muster just 59.

"Coming in, all week long, we knew if we shut down Dawson, that's a big part of that offense," Graziani said. "I don't know if he was a little banged-up or what, but it was nice to go out there and actually shut down the run."

Lembo wasn't exactly doing cartwheels after one of the best wins in his tenure. But he admitted the ride home would be better than the one into New England on Friday.

"It's a good win and we have a tendency not to enjoy these wins as much as we should, and that's my fault as much as anybody," he said. "So we're going to enjoy this for 24 hours and then start getting ready for Holy Cross."

Murphy shouldered much of the blame for the loss. Asked for an explanation, he said, "Explanations are excuses, and there are no excuses for today."

"I didn't do a very good job coaching today," said Murphy, "and that and the turnovers took a relatively competitive game and turned it into a rout."

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