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Last Look: Lehigh vs. Northern Iowa, FCS Playoffs Round One

(Photo Credit: Matthew Putney / The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Times-Courier)

There are an awful lot of fantastic photos of the first round of the FCS playoffs at the UNI-Dome, thanks to the folks at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Times-Courier.  I'd heavily suggest you head over there now to see a great, 28-photo layout of Lehigh's historic playoff win over Northern Iowa.

There are a lot of great photos to choose from, but I keep harkening back to that one play by senior FS John Venerio that continues to capture my imagination. The photo of that pass interference call - and, as you can see, a most correct call - seems to have been the huge play of the game, to me, and also makes for a nice visual of Lehigh's gutty, physical victory over the Panthers.

That, of course, is not the only article written - or broadcast - this weekend about Lehigh's victory. There's more. A whole lot more. (more)

There's, of course, the live blog written by the Morning Call's Keith Groller on his blog Groller's Corner (worth a read because it captures the flow of the game very well) and his instant recap of the game as well.

Official Release: Defense carries Lehigh to 14-7 playoff win at Northern Iowa (video)

“I’m obviously thrilled with the effort our football team put forth through four quarters,” said head coach Andy Coen. “I can’t say enough about how our defense played and swarmed to the football [with] relentless pressure on the quarterback. They did a great job of bottling up an explosive offense all day.

“I thought our special teams were very important [as well],” he continued. “We had a stretch when we weren’t moving the football. We kept getting the ball around midfield and junior P Alex Smith did a great job of keeping them to a long field. The blocked field goal was also huge and took momentum away.”

“This is a very good football team that we played,” said Coen. “We’ve had some very good wins this season and this is without a doubt the best, the best football team that we’ve beaten. They're champions of a conference that we have a tremendous amount of respect for. It’s great that we could come and represent the Patriot League and Lehigh University very well today. I’m very proud of our team and everybody associated with our program.”

Allentown Morning Call: Lehigh Defense Silences the Dome and the Panthers
Allentown Morning Call:
Easton Express-Times: Lehigh Beats Northern Iowa 14-7

The road warriors continue to win.

The Lehigh University football team again rallied from a halftime deficit.

The Mountain Hawks came back and beat the University of Northern Iowa 14-7 in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs from the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, this afternoon.

After nearly a week of hearing about how loud it was inside Northern Iowa's UNI Dome, Lehigh's players and fans were the only ones making noise at the end.

Immediately after the final whistle of the Mountain Hawks' 14-7 FCS playoff win over Northern Iowa, Lehigh players sprinted to the southwest corner of the indoor stadium and celebrated the program's first playoff victory since 2001 with their fans.

"L-E-H-I-G-H!" they chanted loudly enough to be heard in all parts of the 16,000-seat arena.

"Probably half of that crowd was there for me," said Lehigh junior and Omaha, Neb., junior WR Jake Drwal, whose 62-yard touchdown reception tied the game early in third quarter. "I had about 30 people there for me, family and friends, and it was good for me to give them a good showing."

Drwal made a great play on the game-tying TD.

"The linebacker had man coverage on me, and I caught the ball and he hit me, but didn't tackle me," Drwal said. "He tried to push me out of bounds real quick, but didn't get enough of me, I guess."

"Jake made a great play, and junior QB Chris Lum made a great back-shoulder throw," Coen said.

"We were confident coming in, but I was real impressed with how we played," senior FS John Veniero said. "This is probably the best opponent we've beaten and we were just relentless. We shut down their run, didn't let them throw the ball. A game like this reassured me of how good our defense is."

The key was shutting down Rennie, a nimble-footed, shifty quarterback who is dangerous once he gets outside the pocket.

"We were blitzing a lot and keeping contain," Veniero said. "Our outside players just kept him inside because he's most dangerous when he gets on the corner.

"This was just a great experience and one of the funnest games I've ever played in. To play such a good football team in a tough environment was something I'll never forget. I'll never forget the look on the faces of our fans when it was over."

"I can't say enough about how well our defense played in bottling up an explosive offense all day," Coen said. "We got relentless pressure on their quarterback [Tirrell Rennie] and we got three interceptions including a couple late in the first half that kept us in the game.

"We've had some very good wins this season and this is without a doubt the best because it's the best football team that we've beaten. I'm very proud of our team and everybody associated with our program."

Des Moines Register: Lehigh Eliminates Panthers
Sioux City Journal: Panthers Stood Tall, Then Faded Away
Central Iowa Times-Republican: Lehigh Cages Then Ends the Season of the Panthers
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Times-Courier: Postgame report (Video)
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Times-Courier: Photo Gallery: UNI vs. Lehigh

"I think a big thing that we wanted to do with Rennie was try to cage him a little bit, keep him bottled up so we needed to get some pressure up the middle and off the edge," said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen.

"They're a very explosive offense that's predicated on their quarterback," Coen added. "We had to make sure we had him accounted for. All but maybe one time we were able to be right where we needed to be."

"Their defense was great," QB Tirrell Rennie said. "When you look at their schedule their only two losses were to Villanova and New Hampshire, both top-ranked, playoff teams. They came out to prove that they were a good team. They came out with intensity. They didn't care who was lined up in front of them."

"They pressured all day long," UNI head coach Mark Farley said. "They were running two backers up the middle."

"You've got to make a play downfield to get them out of it and we never got them out of that defense. The missed field goals and the intercepts — if you have three of each, you’re not going to win a lot of football games.”

"With the weapons we have on offense, it's really hard to sit back and think you can't score on somebody," said RB Carlos Anderson.

Rennie pointed a finger - at himself. While he said that the knee injury he suffered a week ago at Western Illinois left him somewhere between 80 and 85 percent, he had no interest in passing the buck.

"It's not an excuse for the way I played," said Rennie. "My team expects me to come out and produce like I've produced all year. We expect all of us ... to produce. For me to come out and perform the way I did was atrocious."

"It's not really on Tirrell," said Anderson. "You can't look at any one person and say that you did wrong ... Tirrell didn't lose the game. UNI loses the game.

"Everybody lost this game. We didn't score enough. We didn't stop them enough. We didn't have enough points at the end."

“When you get this far, my thought is (go with) what got you here and don’t go trying to change a lot of things,” Farley said.

“I don't want them to be satisfied to get here - just to be in the playoffs. If you're one of the top 20 teams in the country, then you've got the right to make a run at being one of the best in the country. That's our goal.

“I hope what they take away from today - and what I told the football team - is this (loss) will be a sour note, but what they can take from this is what leadership will do.”


Anonymous said…
WOW what a pic !! Do the hens know how tough we are ? they will find out sat !! Go Lehigh
Anonymous said…
i am sure they are terrified.
Anonymous said…
Im pretty sure the Hens are not scarred they wont over look lehigh but there not scarred the hens play in the CAA which is the toughest conference in d1-aa, teams from this conference play d-1a tough and even sometimes win...UD has beaten navy and JMU just recently beat Vtech. The hens are not scarred of the patriot league....Im predicting a close game in the first half and then a blow out by the time the 4th quarter starts...GO BLUE HENS!!!
Anonymous said…
Um...I do think we understand that UD isn't "scared" of the Patriot League. Thats just so brave of them.

Keep it up Hens. You gotta love the total overconfidence going into this game.

Many of us who have watched this LU squad develop this season understand. UD will understand soon enough. But by all means, keep it up UDee fans.

You guys have KC Keeler as your coach. Nuff said.
Anonymous said…
Just attack the QB. He's missed time already and doesn't want to get hit, it might hurt his pro contract. He quit on one team, why not quit on another.
Anonymous said…
If they weren't "scared" before the game, the chickens will indeed be "scarred" when it's over.
Anonymous said…
I like how because you "stopped" the horrible UNI quarterback then logically you can stop the Delaware quarterback. Will Lehigh even be in this game by the 2nd half?
Anonymous said…
go back to your chicken pen !!
Anonymous said…
Horrible UNI QB? I must have missed something there, UDee. What would you know about logic, being from UD?
Anonymous said…
I am so proud of this team and what they have accomplished this season. I will cheer them on as long as it continues for them. I don't understand why people have to continue the negative comments. I think it's true that some people don't want Lehigh to do well because they'll have nothing to complain about. Sounds like sour grapes to me!! GO LEHIGH!!Regardless of what happens, it has been a great season.....a great CHAMPIONSHIP season!!
Anonymous said…
If you think beating UNI's horrible QB means you're going to win you have another thing coming, TheFan, or Briggs, or whatever name you are at the given minute.
Anonymous said…
Apparently the Mountain Hawks aren't so tough.
Anonymous said…
apparently if you would be willing to meet me somewhere I will knock your tooth through the roof of your smelly mouth

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