Even though I'm a Mountain Hawk fan (and unashamed to admit it), when I do my pieces here and on I-AA.org I believe I go to pains to give respect to the opposing teams in regards to their ability. If Albany makes good plays, I'll say it. If Lafayette has good players, I'll say it. I *will* call announcers out when I see that Lehigh doesn't get the respect. And I felt like CN8's TV coverage of Lehigh didn't really give it to the Hawks until about 3:00 left in the game with a 31-28 lead.
Only semi-joking yesterday I mentioned the following (paraphrased) typical exchange on CN8:
Announcer #1: Oh my GAWD, Lehigh looks like they're going into the tank. Did you see the abs on LB Bryan Adams?
Announcer #2: Yes, and look at that great blocking on the line. Oh, Villanova are simply the greatest players at the I-AA level. Whuh? Lehigh's now up 31-28? Who got that TD for them?
I understand that the guys are going to be A-10 homers, and I don't expect completely "fair and balanced" reporting. But to this reporter, it's as if the announcers clearly felt Lehigh was inferior. Too many A-10 football fans have told me that they tire of Lehigh fans painting themselves as "little Lehigh on South Mountain" when clearly they're a powerful I-AA school. Well, you can listen to last weekend's game and see who'se painting us in that way - it ain't us.
Historically I give game balls on offense, defense, and special teams every week. This week, I'm going to do the same, but I'm also going to throw some more out there as well for some key plays.
Offense: Junior QB Sedale "The Total Package" Threatt
The stats are impressive against anybody, but against an A-10 caliber defense they take on new meaning. 300 total yards. A first half of impressive execution, with great accuracy. Importantly, no interceptions. Down 14-0, he led the offense on an impressive drive with great composure. No doubt he gets one today.
Defense: Senior DB Ernie "Anchorman" Moore
Why "The Anchorman?" The reason is that his hard hitting and his involvement stopping the run barely kept Villanova in check, especially late in the game. 12 tackles and one tackle for loss are impressive numbers, and although Villanova rushed for 208 yards against us, "The Anchorman" made sure the backs had to earn every yard. His play stood out on defense.
Special Teams: Senior WR/PR Frank Trovato
We've had big punt returns for TDs before, but it's hard to think of one which meant more than Frank's late in the first half to tie the game at 14. Besides that, his 138 all-purpose yards meant Trovato was giving the Wildcats fits all night. If he can emerge as a consistent weapon all year on special teams, it could be a fun year.
Normally I'd stop here, but I need to single out the entire "O" line for praise. Junior T Jimmy Kehs, senior G Jim Petrucelli, senior C John Reese, senior G Pete Morelli, senior T Jason Russell, and junior G Kevin Bayani all get balls this week. If you look at the replay of the game-winning TD, you'll see our "O" line make some awesome blocks to seal the deal. Late in the game, against a good A-10 defense, that deserves real praise.
Finally, three guys on that game-winning drive also deserve game balls. Senior FB Greg Fay, sophomore RB Matt McGowan, and senior RB Marques Thompson. Fay's blocking, Thompson's huge 43 yard run, and McGowan's acceleration down the left side deserve game balls as well. You all earned it. Your contributions on this TD drive may have changed the course of the season.
Finally, some interesting writeups from the local press. Also, let it be known that Trovato and Threatt were rightfully Patriot League Players of the Week.
Allentown Morning Call:
Hawks Roar Back to beat Villanova
Hawks Change Script
Upshot: "It looked like the Mountain Hawks would again see a valiant effort come up short as they did in a 34-33 overtime loss to the Blue Hens. But the similarities suddenly ended."
Brown & White:
Coen's Hawks Tame Wildcats For First Victory
Burroughs, Villanova Lose a Heartbreaker to Lehigh
Sophomore defensive back and special teams starter Brendan VanAckeren said after the sloppy 17-16 loss to the University at Albany last week in the Hawks’ home opener, the team practiced hard all week so they could rebound from the loss.
“We produced well on both sides of the ball tonight,” VanAckeren said. “Sedale proved he is truly the team leader and Trovato had an amazing game.”
Trovato: "Coach Coen talked about the Delaware game last year when we should have won. He also mentioned the last time we played Villanova and were up 16-0, but lost. He said 'This was the night we win' and we went out there expecting it to happen."
"Yeah, even down 14, we expected to win," chimed in quarterback Sedale Threatt.
Trovato scored on a 57-yard punt return in the second quarter and then again in the third quarter with an 18-yard pass from Threatt. “It was kind of a low kick, so I knew I’d get a good return,” Trovato said. “I ran down the sideline and saw I had a nice wall and I just out ran [the defender].”
"On that final drive, I looked at the guys in the huddle and we knew we were going to go down there and score," Threatt said. "We knew we'd do the job. The coaches knew, we knew. And, there it was, 31-28."
Threatt also had to overcome a severe case of cramps on Lehigh's final drive, which covered 80 yards in five plays after a missed 'Nova field goal attempt. "I was thinking, 'Lord, God, please let me stop cramping because it hurts'" Threatt said. "Coach Coen wrote on the board the other day 'Expect to win.' And, we expected to win. We weren't surprised they missed that field goal. We came out on that drive and knew we were going to go down and score. Marques Thompson stepped up [with a 43-yard run] and McGowan stepped up. We knew we'd get the job done."
[After the game], for a few moments, Villanova quarterback Marvin Burroughs just sat on the 25-yard line. Lehigh defensive back Daynin Blake had just wrapped his arms around Burroughs' ankles and taken down the fleet-footed quarterback with 1 minute, 37 seconds left on the clock at Villanova Stadium. That sack on fourth and 7 in the fourth quarter ruined any hope of a triumphant comeback for Burroughs to his home turf.
"It was difficult because it was a home game," Burroughs said afterward. "That was heartbreaking, the way we lost."
Villanova coach Andy Talley was not easy on his team afterward. He blamed not the eight penalties for 65 yards, but the Wildcats' attitude. "I really feel, in a nutshell, the guys did not play with any emotion whatsoever as a team," he said.
Talley said he was seriously considering putting his players in a scrimmage today.
If there was any question about how Lehigh players feel about new coach Andy Coen, it was answered in the first minute of the postgame press conference late Saturday night at Villanova Stadium.
Before Frank Trovato, the former Bethlehem Catholic star who scored two touchdowns in the Mountain Hawks' stirring 31-28 come-from-behind victory, would answer a question, he paused. "First of all, I want to congratulate Coach Coen on his first victory," Trovato said.
That prompted the two other players at the interview table — quarterback Sedale Threatt and defensive tackle Royce Morgan — to join Trovato in giving their coach an impromptu round of applause.
"This one means a lot," said Trovato. "Last week we lost and didn't really know what our identity was for 2006. The coaches worked us hard, and we had an excellent week of practice. Actions speak louder than words. [People say] we're not good enough to play at Villanova. We're not a scholarship school. Well, we came down here and showed we can play with anybody."
VanAckeren said he couldn’t be happier for Coen in achieving his first victory as the Hawks’ head coach. "Coach [Coen] deserved this win,” VanAckeren said. “We worked real hard all week in practice, and I think he is going to lead the team in the right direction.”
"I love everybody, but what our offensive line has done this year with [offensive line coach] Brett Sawyer has been wonderful to see," Coen said. "I look down at the stat sheet and see we ran the ball for 203 yards against a pretty good defense. As an old offensive line coach, I'm excited about that."
"You can't be happy with all of those penalties," Coen said. "That's not the way it's scripted. But as much as we talk about execution, we also talk about keeping our poise and overcoming adversity. We overcame a lot.
"I'm not happy with how it started, but I'm real happy with how it ended."
Fifth-year player Royce Morgan, who dealt with what was termed 'academic and personal issues' earlier in the summer, made a grand return to solidify the defensive front. He was credited with 2.5 tackles, two for losses.
"This feels great and I just want to thank the coaches, athletic director Joe Sterrett and everyone involved who helped me through the tough times," an emotional Morgan said. "This is probably the best team I've been a part of in five years here. Nights like this are the reason I came back."