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Press Links, Wearing Down and... Vanilla

(Photo Credit: Jonathan Wilson, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

The press links are all in on last week's game, as well as exclusive photos from The College Sporting News' own Mark Campbell on the 33-14 defeat to a team that reminds me of the world's most beloved ice cream flavor.

Lehigh Athletics: No. 21 Wildcats hand Lehigh first setback of 2008

"We talked a lot about overcoming adversity and dealing with challenges, and I think our defense epitomized that today," Lehigh head coach Andy Coen said afterwards. "The defense was out there for 82 snaps, on a hot day, and I think they competed tremendously and kept us in this football game."

He went onto say, "I think our kids competed well today, and that's a great start. We played a great football team and certainly made our share of mistakes, but now we'll go forward from here."

Philadelphia Inquirer: Opportunistic defense helps Villanova win

Young, a junior who suffered a season-ending injury last season in the Wildcats' sixth game, said it was a matter of settling down in the second half. "The coaches talked to us at halftime about letting the plays come to us," he said. "In the second half, we wore them down. I was able to step up in the pocket, and our fast receivers were able to outrun their [defensive backs] and get into open space, and I was able to deliver the ball."

The Sports Network, David Coulson's Around FCS: Changing Reservations

Other than a few rain drops on Interstate 95 in Delaware, I managed to avoid the storm I would have witnessed in Lake Charles, though the weatherman did serve up some Louisiana-styled humidity as Villanova hosted Lehigh and Delaware took on West Chester in my FCS doubleheader.

The contest turned with Villanova holding a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter. Lehigh quarterback J.B. Clark fired a 34-yard scoring strike to split end Mike Fitzgerald, but a holding penalty negated the go-ahead touchdown.

On the next play, Clark was pressured by Wildcat defensive end Greg Miller and forced out of the pocket. Clark threw a pass near the sideline and into the hands of outside linebacker Osayi Osunde, who seemed like the most startled man in the stadium to find that he had the ball.

"I pretty much was in the right place at the right time," said Osunde. "Once I realized I had (the ball), I just started running."

"When you go out and play a game, there is Heaven and there is Hell," said Villanova coach Andy Talley. "We're in Heaven right now."

Morning Call: Villanova wins on Lehigh's letdowns

''Obviously, J.B. went through some growing pains today,'' Lehigh coach Andy Coen said. ''I had hoped he'd handle some things better than he did. But I don't think we're going to be dealing with the same caliber of pass rush against a lot of the other teams that we play.''

Most encouraging to Coen was that even down 30-7 in the fourth quarter, Clark kept firing away and guided the Mountain Hawks on a 75-yard scoring drive that ended with a 6-yard TD pass to Sekou Yansane. ''The important thing is he got better as the day went on,'' Coen said. ''I'd be feeling a lot worse if he didn't take us down and score on that drive.''

Easton Express-Times: Turnovers, penalties kill Lehigh's chances

Lehigh seemed to snuff out its momentum throughout the game -- a pattern that started in the first quarter. Diamond intercepted Villanova junior quarterback Antwon Young, taking the ball to midfield, but a holding penalty brought the ball back to the Lehigh 34.

On the next snap, Clark gave the ball right back to the Wildcats, throwing an interception to cornerback Fred Maldonado -- leading to Marcoux's first field goal.

"Those were the killers, but that's the game of football," Coen said. "But great teams learn to overcome those problems."
Morning Call: Lehigh's Defense Shows Some Fight

Ultimately, however, the Lehigh defense wants stops and wins, not compliments.

Diamond wasn't satisfied.

''Villanova's very talented and the positive is that we held them to a bunch of field goals [four],'' he said. ''But we made a lot of mistakes and we've got two weeks to learn from them and get back after it.''

Groller's Corner: For Lehigh, Patience is Needed, For Now

But despite the 19-point margin, the scrappy, hustling defense was good enough to generate plenty of optimism and there was enough flashes of what could be on offense to also have fans looking forward the next game, Sept. 27 at Princeton.

It would be wrong, however, to sweep this one under the rug because plenty of warts were revealed.

"I'm not pleased at all," Coen said. "I thought this game would be more competitive than what it was. We just didn't really do anything on offense to let it be more competitive. Our young players have to learn from this and grow. They can't hang their heads. We knew we were going to have some individual failures today, but the key is to keep coming back and competing, that's the message we have to have as we go forward."


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