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Around The Horn: 9/11/2007

Before I get to the rundown of the rest of the Patriot League (and some future opponents), I wanted to mention a couple things about Monday's Lehigh media blitz (which you can catch the replay on Lehigh broadcast or iTunes). The debut of the "Andy Coen Report" occurred yesterday at 6:05PM on AM 1230 and AM 1320 in the Lehigh Valley and was a very fun listen. Hosts Tom Fallon and Mark Markus really did a great job with coach Coen setting up a relaxed atmosphere for coach Coen to speak his mind, and I thought it was really enjoyable. (And, no, "Chuck from Bethlehem" was not me, but I will plan to dial in one of these Mondays!)

Secondly, on the Lehigh Sports Magazine this week, featured was the #18 game selected in the "Best 20 Goodman Moments" series, the Lehigh/Cornell game of 1995 where RB Rabih Abdullah ran for a Goodman record 266 yards and 5 TDs in a 34-23 Lehigh win. And if you are really, really, paying attention, you'll see a (younger) me in the crowd in that game, played in the rain and slosh. It's a quick pan, but trust me, I'm there.

Around the Horn:
  • Lafayette's 28-7 victory over Georgetown was simply a story of Lafayette "overwhelming the Hoyas on all fronts". Like in the Lehigh/Villanova game, the Leopards saw a lot of kids come out in the second half with cramps, but that didn't stop Lafayette from rushing the ball 47 (!) times compared to 19 passes. Senior QB Mike DiPaola didn't hurt the Leopards but didn't overly impress either with a 9-17 day with 1 TD. The defense played great, with senior CB Marcel Quarterman returning an interception for a TD and the first-string offense holding the Hoyas to 79 total yards in the first half. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Leopards' defense made some big fourth-down stops in the game as well. ''Our defense is playing really well right now,'' senior DT Kyle Sprenkle said. ''When we get those kinds of fourth-down stops, it just makes us stronger. I know it kept us motivated for the rest of the game.'' With the rest of the league going 0-4 this week, Lafayette, just like Hillary Clinton, cemented their hold as the front-runners in the Patriot League race.
  • In the first quarter, Bucknell hung tough against Stony Brook, holding the Seawolves to two 3-and-outs and grinding out a nice 6-play, 52 yard drive for a 7-0 lead. But Stony Brook RB Conte Cuttino ran the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a TD, which got Stony Brook's offense kick-started to a 48-20 thrashing of the Bison. After the return, Stony Brook bowled over the Bucknell defense with four of their next five possessions resulting in TDs. Bucknell's Tim Landis heaped praise on the Seawolves in the postgame press conference. Overall, Bucknell's depleted defense (sophomore LB Sam Nana-Sinkam missed his second straight game) seemed exposed, as well as their special teams (a fourth-quarter punt was blocked and returned for a TD by the Seawolves late in the game as well.) Bucknell will also have to regroup after a 4-for-12, 74 yard passing performance by sophomore QB Marcelo Trigg.
  • Although Colgate has found inspiration in one of the most subtle anti-sports fans movies in history (exactly why did Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting give up his Red Sox World Series tickets? Was he mentally ill?), they certainly were a wrench in UMass' plans last Saturday. There were a lot of cramps in a day game at Andy Kerr Stadium as Colgate fell to #3 UMass 35-17 in unnaturally hot conditions in upstate NY. Similar to the Lehigh game, a special-teams miscue gave UMass the ball to set up their first score as senior CB Cody Williams fumbled an early punt that the Minutemen converted into the first TD of the game. Colgate hung tough with the Minutemen, though, only down 14-10 at half. But a UMass punt return for a TD put the score at 28-10 and really stopped the chance at an upset. Junior RB Jordan Scott had an impressive day once again with 29 rushes for 103 yards, while junior QB Alex Relph went the distance and had a good day against a great opponent, with 17-31 and 2 TDs, though his one interception killed an important Colgate drive. Senior LB Mike Gallihugh also, notably, had 17 stops and helped hold the UMass offense to 90 first-half yards. Overall, not a shabby day despite the final score: Colgate looks already to be a force to be reckoned with in this Patriot League title race.
  • Fordham learned the hard way that if you live by the sword... you die by the sword. Trailing 23-20 with 2 minutes to play, sophomore QB John Skelton lined up for his second chance for a comeback victory in two weeks... and saw senior RB Jonte Coven fumble away the ball in a 23-20 defeat. Turnovers played a key role: to go with the key Coven fumble was an interception and another fumble, putting Fordham at -3 in the turnover battle on the night. More worryingly for the Rams, their defense gave up 488 yards on defense, including 315 on the ground on 71 rushing attempts. In addition, Albany held onto the ball for an amazing 40 minutes against the Rams, showcasing what will probably be a favorite strategy against Fordham going forward: be effective running the ball, and keep that offense off the field.
  • Of course Princeton hasn't played a game yet this year, but some key information trickled out of their media day last week. As defending Ivy co-champions, they seem to be aware they will be treated differently by opponents this year as he talked about the good progress senior QB Bill Foran has made on and off the field. Most tellingly, he talked about replacing the two all-league members of his secondary who graduated last year: "Those two might have been the best defensive backs in the league last year," he said, "and we have about 6-8 players in the mix that we're moving around to see what fits. We have Dan Kopolovich playing some corner and some safety. Kevin Kelleher is a great leader back there, but we'll need contributions from guys like Cart Kelly, Tom Hurley and couple other guys you might not have heard much about in the past." As of last week, it sounded like there was some uncertainty as to who was going to emerge: which could bode well for Lehigh's passing game.

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