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Lehigh 7, Princeton 10, Final

It doesn't get much more frustrating than this.

When a game is tied 7-7 going into the final three minutes of the game and you have a 2nd and 4 on the opposition's 36 yard line, you've got to feel like you have a good chance to win the game. Never mind that senior RB Matt McGowan has struggled to get the running game going. Never mind that sophomore QB J.B. Clark hadn't found consistency yet on the evening. Never mind that we had a grand total of 234 total yards of offense up until that point in the game.

You throw all that out. You find a way to make a play, to get that first down, to give your kicker a chance to make that field goal and win the game. Never mind what folks will say about you or write about you on Sunday. Make plays, win the game.

On three plays on offense, Lehigh simply didn't make the plays they needed to make. Three rushes; one by McGowan through the line for two yards, another by McGowan for a yard and a half, and one by senior FB Adam Watson that looked - from the press box - to be enough for the first down.

The chains came out... and it was half a football short.

Four plays later -only two and a half hours after kickoff, one of the shortest games I've ever witnessed - Princeton kicker Connor Louden was booting the game-winning field goal for the Tigers. The Lehigh defense, who had made a heroic effort all night yet still gave up big chunks of yardage to the Tigers in too many spots this evening, gave up a 46 yard reception to Princeton WR Wil Thanheiser to put them easily into Louden's range - where he is almost always automatic.

Last year against Princeton, the Tigers gift-wrapped five turnovers which the Mountain Hawks gladly turned into points. This year, the Tiger offense was brutally efficient between the twenties and gave Lehigh only one gift - a missed block on a field-goal try. Junior LB Heath Brickner blocked the field-goal attempt and junior LB Al Pierce picked it up and rumbled all the way to the Princeton 8 yard before Brian Anderson, Princeton's QB, caught him from behind.

Princeton looked like an excellent team today that could definitely challenge for the Ivy League title. They looked a lot like the 2006 team with their precision - especially on offense, at times - and their sound play overall in doing the little things, like receivers blocking downfield, hitting gaps, that sort of thing. They're still a work in progress on offense, no question, but they showed signs that they could reach the level of execution of the great Jeff Terrell-led team that beat Lehigh 14-10 a few years ago.

Their front seven, far from being a weakness to be exploited, were a potent disruptive force. Lehigh has now faced two defensive lines that could be among the best in the FCS, and they clearly won that battle in the trenches, something that coach Coen wasn't too pleased with. "We struggled against their 'D' line, and their line did a good job,"Coen said. "[But] they didn't do anything we weren't prepared for."

But as well as they played, all of that didn't matter with three minutes to play. Lehigh had a golden opportunity to make some plays and win the game. They didn't. And the frustration and disappointment continues.

Coach Coen was upset about the game - and he used stronger words than 'upset' after the game.


Anonymous said…
It just is going to get worse. Cornell beat Yale, Fordham at home then Harvard and Holy Cross on the road. Will we score against Lafayette?
Anonymous said…
Princeton stinks. Thats how bad it will be this year. Say what you want, build them up to be ivy challengers. They are not in any way to going to challenge for the top spot in the ivy. The kid that left the team should have been the starting qb, period. Watson made a first down, it was a home spot. If we get that we win 10-7 and that still wouldnt have been a feel good win. Disgusting performance. By the way, have you ever seen a team that has receivers, qb and running back looking to the sidelines for a play, nearly every play? Waht the hell is that? Was Clark a pitcher in h.s.? He can certainly keep the ball low.
LU65 said…
From my viewpoint (on the line of scrimmage along the runway between the upper and lower decks of the stadium), Watson's dive over LT did come up short. That play, if meant to catch Princeton by surprise, certainly did! Adam Watson is a talented FB - tough as they come and a decent power runner - but a "slow to take shape" leap over left tackle from a deep set the backfield!@#$ Wow! Is this all the coaching staff could come up with after a timeout to think things over? Might not a QB Sneak have been in order? We do have a 6'4" (twice the distance needed for a first down) / 215 qb, don't we? Now that would have been a surprise (can't recall one this year) and perhaps the right call.
Anonymous said…
The offense is in turmoil.

By the way, Cecchini's offense at The Citadel scored 37 last week vs the same D-Line and Princeton defense. Joe passed him over twice for the HC job.
Anonymous said…
in actuality I can think of four that did pretty well after their exodus from South Mountain. Lembo, Higgins, Cecchini and Gilmore. As people have said time and time again, the AD is just collecting a paycheck.
Anonymous said…
I was there. Very bad play calling from beginning to end of the game.
Anonymous said…
The offensive play calling for this team is horrible, and that's being kind. We can talk all day about the guys having to make the big plays, and it's true. But the coach has to have the guts to call the big plays, and he doesn't. How many times in a row can you run McGowan between the tackles before even the worst defense is going to figure out that that's what's coming? And was there anyone in that stadium last night who honestly didn't know that Watson was going to get the ball on the last 4th down? Come on, coach, surprise me once in a while. Even better, try surprising the other team. We're never really going to know what these kids are capable of unless they get a chance to show it.
ngineer said…
I don't disagree with the comments about the 'dive' play--why did he leave is feet? If he runs his momentum carries him through. Worse, why was he the most crucial time you go with your best back--McGowan who has more of a quick burst.

What hasn't been mentioned was the wrong message sent by the coaches before the half--we get the ball back on our 35 with about 30 secs and 2 timeouts--and we take a knee. Come on--howabout trying to win as opposed to trying not to lose!!!! There is a big difference and this decision showed that coaches did not have the confidence in the offense, the QB or themselves to try an move 35 yards or so to try at least a FG.
Despite Princeton moving the ball on us, we were in position to win this game and blinked. Cornell game will be huge going into League play to see what kind of character is there.
Anonymous said…
Ok the comment about everyone in the stadium knowing Watson was going to get the ball has to be from someone who needs to buy a clue. Nobody knew Watson was getting the ball, it was his first touch of the night. He shouldnt have left his feet true, but he still made it. I was with several former players that knew he was going to take a knee, rather than try to throw downfield with the chance for a field goal. They all called it to a man. Real stinkin thinking by that staff.
Anonymous said…
Our band won hands down. It was interesting to see those ridiculous Princeton band members fresh off their insulting tour of the Citadel. Our crowd should have bood those ah's. Our band ruined them at least.
Doug H said…
I watched the game on Fox College Sports here in Florida.... I'm still coming in a couple of weeks but I'm prepping for the worst as we open league play against Fordham... I agree with all posters that the play calling was mediocre especially there at the end... And how do you let Princeton just blow down the field to setup the winning FG with very little time left at the start of their drive????

I don't think the current Lehigh President has the guts to can Joe.. He has the Lehigh heritage on his side but frankly all of our major sports have gone downhill in recent years especially football... I agree with all the posters that Lehigh football used to be fun even when we lost... I remember years ago during our playoff years, I would have to go to sports bars to watch games and even got Florida football fans interested in watching our games.... Maybe the rise in costs and academics has make it tougher to compete but in a way that is bogus.... All the teams in their leageue have the same issues and many manage to field decent or at least interesting teams... What is turning off the crowds in Bethlehem is boring football... I hope it turns around soon..

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