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Lehigh 10, New Hampshire 31, Final

The Morning Call's Keith Groller gave me a shout out on his blog this morning, calling me "Captain Sunshine" - a hilarious nickname that I actually like, incedentally - and mentioned that I thought if Lehigh played the perfect game this Saturday, they could beat New Hampshire in their place.

After watching the game up there, I still feel that to be true.

But Lehigh did not play the perfect game up in New Hampshire.

The 31-10 victory shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Lehigh still has a lot of work to do if they hope to win the Patriot League this year - and have a successful season. And the gap between the FCS Top 25 and Lehigh is as big as ever. (more)

Early on, it looked like Lehigh was going to put up a strong fight.

After an early pass to WR Joey Orlando, Lehigh's defense responded on New Hampshire's opening drive with two big tackles for loss - the first by junior DE Andrew Knapp who stuffed Wildcat RB Dontra Peters with great acceleration through the gap, and then senior LB Al Pierce with a big sack of New Hampshire QB R.J. Toman to set the early tone. New Hampshire would have to settle for a 37 yard field goal from PK Michael MacArthur to take the early lead.

After Lehigh's offense stalled, a 45 yard by junior P Alex Smith downed inside the 2 yard line pinned New Hampshire's offense into a 3-and-out, and good field position after a Wildcat punt became great field position after a 15 yard personal foul penalty set Lehigh up at the 30 yard line.

But in what would be a recurring theme during the afternoon, Lehigh would be given golden opportunities to come away with points but could not get anything going offensively. Lehigh's drive stalled at the New Hampshire 24, and would have to settle for a 42 yard FG by sophomore PK Jake Peery to tie the game at 3.

After Lehigh tied the game, Toman and the Wildcat offense wasted no time getting back ahead after a 51 yard fly pattern to WR Kevon Mason, which led 3 plays later to WR Joey Orlando's first TD on the afternoon. Again, though, senior CB/KR John "Prez" Kennedy would recover a bobbled kickoff and turn it into a spectacular 76 yard return that was narrowly stopped by SS John Greer from being a touchdown.

Golden opportunity #2, however, became negative yards after a 5 yard loss on a fumble instead became a 45 yard FG attempt from Peery - which fell short.

Golden opportunity #3 was a turnover created by junior LB Colin Newton's forced fumble after a bubble screen from WR Terrence Cox, pounced upon by sophomore CB Bryan Andrews. After sophomore QB Michael Colvin lost the ball running a 3rd and 11 on the New Hampshire 26, a heady recovery by senior TE Alex Wojdowski afte rthe ball went forward four yards resulted in a critical first down - which would lead to an 11 yard TD run by senior RB Jay Campbell on a beautiful misdirection around senior OL Will Rackley.

After tying the game at 10, however, the Wildcats put the hammer down on a Lehigh defense that was already wearing down from overexposure and injury.

With Pierce and Kennedy out at this point from injury, New Hampshire embarked on a 8 play, 69 yard drive that ended with a 21 yard pass to WR Terrance Fox to give them the lead again. And the Wildcat defense would not let up a significant first down until the 4th quarter. Aside from a meaningless first down at the end of the first half, Lehigh would gain only three first downs the rest of the way: in a drive that would end with an interception by CB Hugo Souza at the New Hampshire 1 yard line.

Even two more drive opportunities in New Hampshire territory, thanks to interceptions by senior FS John Venerio and sophomore CB Bryan Andrews couldn't get the offensive juices flowing.

“We knew we were playing a very good football team here, one that’s traditionally top teams in FCS football,” said visibly frustrated coach Andy Coen in the official game recap. “When you play a team like that you have to take advantage of the opportunities presented to you. They presented a lot of opportunities to us. The defense created turnovers. We had a big kick return on a great individual effort. Offensively, we just weren’t able to take advantage of any of those opportunities with the exception of one. You’re not going to beat many teams when you do those things.”

"Way too many procedural issues," a perturbed Coen added in the video recap.  "Collectively as a team, we're not feeding off each other.  We need the bye week to do some work.  To get some guys to really decide how good we want to be.  I think we still have a chance to be a good football team, but not if we play like we did today."

With Lehigh's offense only holding onto the ball for about 20 minutes, it's not surprising that the defense - on a supernaturally hot 85 degree day in Durham - wore down. A 14 yard TD run by RB Dontra Peters - where he came in essentially untouched - illustrated perfectly the perils of a worn out defense with a slew of important players out with injury.

It would be myopic to say that Lehigh's offensive struggles were completely their own fault - New Hampshire has one of the best secondaries in FCS, and they made life for sophomore QB Michael Colvin miserable, especially late in the game when he had to force the action.  LBs Alan Buzbee and LB Matt Evans were every bit the tackle machines they were advertised to be.

But this was a beatable team.  I still stand by what I said before the game.  Had Lehigh played the perfect game, they could have competed with New Hampshire and still had a real chance to win.  But they didn't play the perfect game.  They didn't come close.


Anonymous said…
Lehigh and the PL should drop down to Division Three. They are embarassing themselves. Wake up!. It's 2010. Either offer scholarships or play in a lower level. Lehigh and the others are now cannon fodder put on the big boys schedules to make themselves look more appetizing for the national polls. It used to be that other teams measured themsleves against Lehigh. Now we consider it a moral victory if we hang in there until halftime.
Anonymous said…
Are we back to the "musical" QB's, or is Lum still hurt?
Anonymous said…
good thing they have an open date this week - they need some time to work out the kinks
Anonymous said…
The PL seems to be weaker then ever this year. Coen saves his job again....
Anonymous said…
The PL has regressed to the level of the mid-90's when the league did not allow its schools to go to the playoffs. That changed and the top half of the league became competitive.

It is now or never for the PL. It might even completely break up as a football league should scholarships not be allowed.
Anonymous said…
Please drop the whining about scholarships. It will help, but it isn't a panacea. Fordham has scholarships, and Fordham is worse than ever.

A good football program starts at the top. It's no coindidence that Lembo left a nationally ranked program, went to a SoCon bottom dweller, and quickly turned it into a nationally ranked program. On the other hand, Coen took over a nationally ranked program and quickly turned it into a Patriot League also-ran.

Before pouring money into scholarships, pour money into a good head coach (assuming both can't be done at the same time).
Anonymous said…
the PL is now a mid major and should not get a playoff spot. Money is being spent on other sports where cost are less and how many secondary sports have players that are looking for a lot of aid like football. This is a league decision, Georgetown didn't get better, everyone else just caught up with them. Look for the Morning Call & service electric to start covering Kutztown. The game program is a disgrace.
Anonymous said…
Have we forgotten that the Mountainhawks are 1-0 in the PL!! Go Hawks! Beat Fordham!
Anonymous said…
0-0 Go Hawks!
Anonymous said…
I believe that Fordham is redshirting all of its scholarship athletes. Maybe its performance indicates why it wants scholarships.
Anonymous said…
PL rules don't allow reshirting.
Fordham is also in dire need of a good head coach.
Anonymous said…
But they are not following PL rules anymore, they have scholarship athletes.
Anonymous said…
Quarteback issues? Maybe our third string QB Clark should have been called upon. That's right, our starting senior QB for the last two years is gone after being demoted. I now can see why he was demoted, we need more inexperience in the leadership role at QB. He is a great athlete but not prepared to take the reigns of QB and win a PL championships if starting QB goes down. This is not a knock on the talented and athletic future QB, but a question how the coaches will address the postion that is at the center of the offenses woes. We will win and for better or worse, lets get behind this team and show some postive support. These kids need our support and they don't need the media telling them they can't compete against scholarship teams. They are proud student athletes at a First Class University. Let's Go Lehigh!
Punk Rope said…
The gap between the top teams in the FCS and the teams in the Patriot league seems to be growing wider. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the PL needs to decide on what level it wants to compete. When you have FCS teams like James Madison beating Virginia Tech it's pretty clear that they're in a different league. Personally, I think an annual championship between the top team in the PL and the top team in the Ivy League could be very exciting, but I doubt either league would go for it.
Anonymous said…
If JB had not given up on his team for his own ego, he probably would have played at least part of the game on Saturday. He was only an injury away from moving back up.
Anonymous said…
JB did not give up on his team, Coen gave up on him!

This seems to be Coen's style throughout his miserable tenure on South Mountain.

He cant have the respect of his team due to the consistent lack of loyalty he has shown over the last few years.

When will you wake up and put the blame where it belongs?
Anonymous said…
Miss you J.B. !
Anonymous said…
Stick to intramural football and end the farce. Spend the money on girl's sports like Alice wants.
Anonymous said…
The freshman QB they have is the best they got - they need to give him a shot. I've watched them all and he is very good.
Anonymous said…
Alice is a big big bitch
Anonymous said…
I don't understand the anger directed towards Gast. She isn't the football coach, didn't hire Coen, didn't hire Sterrett.

Perhaps the angry posts are from Tea Partiers. Angry as hell, but totally clueless.
Anonymous said…
perhaps you are a d-bag

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