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Press Roundup: Liberty vs. Lehigh

(Photo Credit: Brian Freed/The Express-Times)

It was a Lehigh football game with quite the gold standard of media coverage.

On TV, there were two full-time staffs covering the game: the regular Service Electric 2 broadcast from Mike Zambelli and Mike Yadush, and the Flames Sports Network TV broadcast featuring Mike Tilley and Ray Jones.

On radio, Matt Kerr and Tom Fallon covered the game for ESPN AM 1230 and 1320 locally, while Alan York handled the play-by-play dutires for the Flames Radio Network.

And in print, a multitude of media outlets also covered Lehigh's stirring 27-24 victory over a fellow nationally-ranked opponent as well, including two photo galleries.  (more)
LehighSports.Com: No. 15/16 Lehigh Pulls Out 27-24 Win Over Liberty

“It was an entertaining football game for sure,” said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. “Two very good football teams went at it today. I’m very proud of how our football team hung in there. There were a lot of mistakes made on both sides, but we talked to the kids last night about being a team. It had to be a team thing.

Coen continued, “The offense did a lot of really good things. The defense did a great job. They were super in the red zone and in forcing turnovers, including that huge one when Liberty was driving the ball. Our kick game woke up a little bit. We had some problems in coverage but we got our placements situated.”

Morning Call: Lehigh Hangs On to Beat Liberty, 27-24
Morning Call: Photo Gallery, Liberty vs. Lehigh
Express-Times: Lehigh Hangs On to Beat Liberty
Express-Times: Photo Gallery, Liberty vs. Lehigh

Sophomore RB Keith Sherman ran a wheel route up the left sideline and scored after a 73-yard catch-and-run from senior QB Chris Lum to put No. 15 Lehigh up 20-17 at halftime.

“We’ve been waiting for Keith to really make an impact in the game,” coach Andy Coen said. “He did some good things last week against Princeton. That play was huge; he looked fast running down the sideline.”

Coen thinks the world of sophomore RB Zach Barket in clutch situations.

"In past history, when you play a kid that doesn't practice, it's usually a disaster on Saturday," Coen said. "But Zach is such a football player. I just have complete trust in him."

It was up to Barket to convert on the pitch on fourth-and-one to get the last key first down to kill most of the clock.

"I did whatever I had to do to get back on the field," Barket said. "I was taking five treatments a day this week just to have a chance to play.

Morning Call: Lehigh is Pleased, But Not Content, With 3-1 Start
Express-Times: Pair of Sophomores Make Big Plays for Lehigh
Express-Times: Zach Barket Battles Injury To Lead Lehigh Past Liberty
“It’s great to be back,” said junior LB Billy Boyko, who missed the past two games with a concussion. “It was hard sitting out two weeks. You have to re-acclimate yourself to everything going on. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.” 
“Looking at the record 3-1, I feel great about that,” Coen said. “There’s a lot of excitement moving forward because I don’t think we’ve played the way we’re capable of playing yet. 
"It's kind of a broken record for the kids, but they're going to hear me say it again this week. It's focus, focus, focus. I've been fortunate to be a part of a lot of championship-caliber teams and there are common traits all those teams have. We're still working to get there." 
Two weeks in a row when Lehigh needed a lengthy drive to put the game away, it has found a way to move the sticks and chew up the clock. 
"It helps that we've got a veteran group of guys," Coen said. "This team has more veterans than last year. But I think mental toughness can be taught. We spend a lot of time on it in practice, pushing kids, challenging them. The more situations you're in, the more it sinks in."

Brown & White: Lehigh Victorious over Liberty
Brown & White: Young Alumni Return for Homecoming Weekend

The Young Alumni Reunion took place this past weekend, bringing together graduates from the classes of 2011, 2006 and 2001, for a weekend of celebration. The festivities began with a welcome reception on Friday night, followed by a Saturday morning tailgate party in preparation for the homecoming game against Liberty University. On Saturday night, the alumni had individual class year receptions, followed by a night of dancing at the Brown and White Bash. After the dance, alumni were treated to late-night sandwiches at the local sandwich shop, Goosey Gander II.

“Our alumni have a lot of pride in Lehigh, and they want to come back,” said Nancy Merritt, director of alumni outreach and reunion. At Lehigh, we were finding our young alumni were not coming back to our traditional reunion in June,” she said.
Lynchburg News & Advance: Lehigh Sends Liberty to 1-3 On the Season
Lynchburg News & Advance: Lehigh/Liberty Notes
Lynchburg News & Advance: Monday Liberty Football Wrap

As he watched his kick fall well short Saturday afternoon, Liberty freshman PK Alex Kacere hung his head. Flames senior QB Mike Brown, who doubles as the holder on the field-goal unit, quickly put an arm around Kacere and drew him close. The message seemed to be clear, something to the effect of, “This one’s not on you, kid.” 
Kacere’s game-tying attempt from 54 yards away was a longshot at best, anyway. But the real issue in the Flames’ 27-24 loss to 16th-ranked Lehigh was once again disclipline. Liberty had three touchdowns called back due to penalties, and the Flames had seven penalties for 75 yards a week after an 11-penalty showing at home against James Madison. 
“It’s a microcosm of our season so far,” head coach Danny Rocco said. “We make too many mistakes. Right now, we’re not a very good football team. It’s really that simple.” 
To start the game, Liberty had two deep drives, but only three points. Lehigh had momentum, and the Mountain Hawks (3-1) took advantage. 
“It killed us,” Rocco said. “We had an opportunity early on to establish control of the game. We just never got the point production to let you feel like you had control.” 
Said Brown: “We’ve played some top teams in the nation, some good quality teams. They play hard. When you play those guys, you’ve got to be at the top of your game. And we haven’t been at the top of ours. We haven’t deserved to win.” 
Senior WR Chris Summers spent much of last week’s game against James Madison stuck in double teams, allowing B.J. Hayes to have a career day. Lehigh had no answer for Summers though, no matter what sort of coverage the Mountain Hawks threw at him. 
“They were big risk takers,” Summers said. “And I was able to get past them and run by them.” 
Another problem that I noticed on Saturday: Too much hitting, too little tackling. Three times on punt returns, Liberty DB Jacob Hagen had a bead on the Lehigh returner and completely whiffed, diving for a tackle, hitting and bouncing off. The Mountain Hawks had tremendous field position during critical parts of the game. Take these three second-half drives for example: 
Lehigh starts at Liberty 38 after kickoff 
Lehigh starts at Liberty 26 after punt 
Lehigh starts at Liberty 37 after punt 
The Flames' defense absolutely bailed the special teams out on those drives. Lehigh managed a total of minus-1 yard on 10 plays on those drives. Liberty was very lucky to not have its doors blown off in a close game, and the Flames' defense deserves a lot of credit for keeping it close. But you can't continue to put your defense in a position like that against quality opponents and expect success.

*****

New Haven Register: Bulldogs Drop Cornell in Ivy League Opener
New Haven Register: Will McHale Delivering on Defense
A once comfortable lead was down to a mere seven points and the Yale football team was perilously close to losing control of a game that just appeared to be firmly in their grasps. 
Suddenly, a Cornell team which had practiced so much patience in cutting away at the Bulldogs’ advantage, had a moment of costly impetuousness. 
After stunning Yale with a 96-yard scoring drive, the Big Red opted to try an onsides kick in an attempt to come all the way back. Yale senior defensive end Cliff Foreman alertly fell on the ball and four plays later the Bulldogs restored the two-score cushion en route to a 37-17 victory Saturday in the Ivy League opener for both teams. 
“You don’t want it being the other team being within seven points before we finally wake up, but that is what it took today,” Yale senior QB Patrick Witt said. 
“I was hoping (to be cleared) from Sunday on,” junior LB Will McHale said after Saturday’s 37-17 win over Cornell. “I didn’t feel any symptoms or anything like that, but I got cleared right after the walkthrough (Friday). I was relieved. It would have been really disappointing to come to practice, prepare for a game and the next thing you know you can’t go out there.” 
Not only did McHale play, he might have been Yale’s most effective defensive player. 
McHale’s nine tackles tied him with Drew Baldwin and Geoff Dunham for the team lead giving him a team-leading 19 tackles this season. He also recovered a fumble while being a factor not only rushing the passer but in run support and pass coverage as well. 
“He is one of the best players we have on our entire team and not only that, he is one of the best leaders,” Yale football coach Tom Williams said. “I like to joke that senior LB Jordan Haynes is our captain but Will is the lieutenant, he is right there with him. When he is out there, the guys know what kind of player he is. It just gives us strength, his energy, his passion, the way he plays rubs off on everybody else.”

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