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Press Roundup; Pundits & Fans Pick Lehigh (again)

Although the forecast calls for more than an inch of rain, I'll be at Goodman tomorrow finding out of what mettle diehard Lehigh and Holy Cross fans are made. If the weatherman is right, there's a 90% chance the fair-weather fans will be staying at home.

Those who will be doing the right thing by driving out to Goodman will see a vital game in the Patriot League race. Holy Cross would like nothing better than to escape Goodman drenched with a surprise victory. Lehigh needs to make a statement that the road to the Patriot League title goes through Goodman.

However you see this one - it won't be one to miss.

Pundits & Fans Pick the Game
Although most predictions came before the weather forecast, Matt Dougherty's pick of a 38-24 Lehigh win is on-par with every game prediction I have seen. Lehigh getting anywhere from 34 to 38 points and Holy Cross getting anywhere from 21 to 24 points. Of course, what that means is the game will probably confound all expectations and be a 12-0 Lehigh win.

Press Roundup
A very quick press roundup. For the local papers, all Owen Breninger, all the time. As for Worcester, they made me pay .60 cents in order to see their article. The sacrifices I make for Lehigh football!

Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh's Breninger Happy To Be On Defense
Easton Express-Times:
Lehigh Shifts Into High Gear For Patriot League
Brown & White:
#10 Hawks Look To Defeat Crusaders
Worcester Telegram & Gazette:
Crusher Casey Sparks 'Saders (reg'n required)

And your press digest:

Mountain Hawks coach Pete Lembo said, "We've got a very, very big challenge this week. There's an understanding that this game has a bigger impact than any other on our hopes for the postseason. The easiest way for us to get there is to win our league."

"Absolutely," said defensive end Matt Mohler, who shares the team lead of 3( sacks with Royce Morgan. "They have receivers who don't drop balls, they have a running back who's always falling forward, they have a quarterback who makes great reads. Getting pressure on (O'Neil) is very important. That's definitely a key to the game getting him a little frustrated."

Senior wide receiver Gerran "G" Walker said he agrees with Lembo. “Every game on our schedule is a must-win game,” Walker said. “Now that we’re beginning Patriot League play, we can’t slip up in any of these games if we wish to participate in the I-AA playoffs this year.”

"Whether it's Holy Cross or whether it's Delaware or VMI, it really doesn't matter. I approach every week the same," Mohler said. "Every game's the same for us. If we play perfect football, we can be a very darned good team."

"That's one of the big things we're looking forward to this week getting pressure on O'Neil," Breininger said. "It's an important game ... It's one we need if we want to win the league championship. Other than the last quarter of that Delaware game, things have been going well. I couldn't ask for more."

Lembo said he is not looking at this game as an easy win. "Holy Cross is a much improved football team, perhaps more so than any other team on our schedule,” Lembo said. “They are playing with confidence and have been tested against good teams so far this year. Even though Holy Cross has not beaten us since 1997, this is a new year, and they will throw everything they have at us.”

That league schedule opens for Lehigh with a threat from an old assistant, yet it's just one of many the Mountain Hawks welcome. [Holy Cross Head Coach Tom] Gilmore, the defensive coordinator at Lehigh from 2000-03, said the Mountain Hawks’ receiving corps, led by Gerran Walker, Kevin Zebluim and Lee Thomas, are the most talented group HC will play this year. Senior quarterback Mark Borda has already thrown for 1,186 yards.

“We’re playing with a different kind of confidence this season,” said [senior CB Casey] Gough, who heads a secondary that also includes senior corner Tyler Nugent and sophomore safeties Kent Flanders and Obi Green. “Our safeties are calling the
plays with a lot more confidence. With me, last year playing for the first time, there was an insecurity on the field. Now with game experience, we’re a much more tight-knit group.”

“I thought we played the best two teams (Harvard and Delaware) on our schedule already,” Gilmore said. “Now I’m not so sure.”

In last week’s 22-19 win at Yale, Gough was all over the place with a career-high 11 tackles, an interception, a safety and a blocked PAT. Gough was named the Division I-AA National Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

“That game that Casey had on Saturday was just ridiculous,” Gilmore said.

Gough had one other big play that didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Freshman defensive tackle Brenton Good was credited with the tackle of Yale running back Mike McLeod on a critical fourth-and-1 deep in HC territory in the third quarter, but it was Gough who stopped the play.

“The lead blocker, a fullback, is coming and boom, Casey knocks the kid two yards back into the running back,” Gilmore said. “He wasn’t on a blitz, but he read the play. You see the Yale player being knocked right into the running back. That was Casey Gough.”

Gough expects to match up with the 5-10, 185-pound Walker, who’s averaging 13.9 yards a catch and has scored three TDs.

“They are extremely athletic,” Gough said. “It will definitely be our biggest challenge and my biggest challenge.”

Of Gilmore, Breninger said "He's a very intense coach... He expects a lot from his players. I know from when he was here, he's going to have those guys ready to play. We've got to be ready to match their intensity... [H]e'll have them fired up and believing that they're the best team out there, and we just have to show them that they're not."

"For me, it will be a little more of an emotional game because of all the people at Lehigh," Gilmore said. "I really enjoyed the people at Lehigh and in the Lehigh Valley. I have a lot of fond memories of Lehigh. In life, sometimes you have to make some professional decisions that you feel are best for you."

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