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Sunday's Word: Finishing

We did end up winning this week's game versus Colgate 23-15. But we came dastardly close to not "finishing" an opponent. It was enough against Colgate, but it was troubling enough to make it this Sunday's word.

I suppose I should be focusing on all the positives of the game instead. Holding sophomore RB sensation Jordan Scott to 83 yards of total offense, for example. Two more great interceptions - and winning the turnover battle. Winning the battle of special teams. NT Erik Rakus making life absolutely miserable for Colgate. QB Sedale Threatt, rushing for 75 yards and 2 TDs. Getting 4.3 yards per carry rushing. And, most importantly, staying up by two scores or more during most of the game. These things are all fine achievements, including the most important one - we won the game.

But on offense and defense, we clearly let Colgate hang around far too long. We didn't "finish" them. Up 14-0 at half, we let Kenny Parker get free and nearly get a TD - fortunately, they settled on a FG. Up 20-3 early in the 4th quarter, we let up a drive to Colgate where Colgate QB Mike Saraceno goes 4-for-6 and gets a key TD to put them back in the game. In a game where the QBs were unable to get anything going before, this "soft" TD made it a heck of a lot more interesting. In my humble view of the game, I didn't all of a sudden see Colgate kick in another gear. I saw our defense look an awful lot like the team that struggled against Yale, Princeton, and Harvard.

It didn't get any less interesting after that. The offense struggled to get back into PK John Leo's range to make it 23-9, and then the defense still gave up massive chunks of yards to Colgate for another soft TD. Then the offense finally shut it down and won the game by holding onto the ball for the final 5 minutes to seal the win. But it wasn't dominating by any stretch. No fewer than 3 third-downs featured, not to mention a 4th down conversion. For good measure, on 3rd-and-1 we got flagged for an illegal shift. No way should it have been THAT interesting.

We were lucky to get away with the win. Colgate is too good to fall asleep against, and it appeared that some folks didn't realize that. We didn't "finish". We got lucky.

Look, I don't feel this team is filled with stiffs. I realize that this team is only a few points from being undefeated. It's because the team is so talented that it's so maddening to see them let teams back in the game rather than step on their throats like they did versus Holy Cross. You can't do it versus Colgate, Fordham, or anybody. Especially versus Colgate. I don't care what their record is - they are a huge rival, and you can't give them any oxygen to mount a comeback.

To be fair, I was also impressed by Lehigh's ability to bounce back from mistakes. Even though we had seven penalties (and some were hair-pulling, like 12 men on the field and illegal procedure penalties), we did bounce back really well and get the job done, and when the history books are written that's what will really be seen. Lehigh 23, Colgate 15, final.

But against Fordham we're going to have to "finish". Their barn-burner last week versus Lafayette shows that the Rams are not just packing it in for the season - they are playing hard and could be a dangerous opponent. They will be playing loose and looking to get our pelts to make their season a success. A win next week for them would be their "Super Bowl".

We can't afford to look ahead to playing a certain school in Easton yet. We need to "finish" business at home versus Fordham first. I have confidence that this team can get the job done - I've seen them be able to do it. I know they can "finish". If they "finish" next week in a win over Fordham, I'll feel a lot better about our chances the following week. I think so will the rest of Lehigh Nation.


Ngineer said…
Yes, "finishing" off Fordham with an impressive score would certainly send a message 'down the road' as well as to Alums that the team is set to 'take care of business'.
So, time to transform Lehigh into a 'finishing school'....?
Anonymous said…
Just to explain the wacky onside kick on Saturday.

One of the Lehigh upfront receivers signaled for a fair catch when he saw the pop-up onside kick but was blocked before the Colgate player ever caught it. Thus according to the rule below, he was illegally interfered with before the ball was caught thus ending the play. I think even then it only went 9 yards.

Question: Can a "fair catch" be called on an on-side kick? I know the ball can't hit the ground first, but how about an on-side kick that is popped up in the air?

Answer: Yes, a fair catch can be called on any kick. And even if a fair catch signal is not given the receiver must not be interfered with before he catches the ball. That is why on an on-side kick the kicker almost always kicks the ball into the ground first. That removes the possibility for interference.

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