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Press Roundup, Lehigh vs. Fordham

(Photo credit: Sarah Strackhouse/The Brown & White via the Express-Times)

When times are good for the Rams, Fordham usually gets some decent coverage in what is considered the "media capital of the world".

But when they lose to go to 1-5, even if it is to the No. 8-ranked team in the country, you're hard pressed to find any mention of the Rams in the New York Post, Daily News, or New York Times.

The good news, though, is there's still a lot of press for the Mountain Hawks' accomplishment this weekend.
Official Release: Lehigh Rolls to Fifth Straight, 34-12, Over Fordham



“I’m very pleased to get out of Fordham with a win today,” explained head coach Andy Coen. “It was a very physical game as evidenced by all the guys who went down on both sides. Fordham is a good, young football team. This was a quality win for us.” 

“Offensively we moved the ball well,” Coen said. “We moved the ball every time we had it. We were looking to get some big plays early, but Fordham did a good job taking those away, but that opened up the run game for us and we were able to run a little better than we had coming in.” 

“Last night we talked about playing like a team,” Coen said. “I think that’s why we’re playing at a high level right now, because we do play as a team. The guys pick each other up. They stay together. I’m happy with our team coming in and getting this win and now we’re 6-1 heading into the bye week.”

Morning Call: Lum Lights Rams for 413 Yards
Express-Times: Lehigh Cruises Past Fordham 34-12
Brown & White: Lehigh Beats Fordham, 34-12

Once upon a time in the not too distant Lehigh football past, a sixth victory would have been cause for celebration.
The sixth win is generally significant for any FCS-level program because it clinches a winning season.
The Mountain Hawks got their sixth win of the 2011 season on Saturday, overcoming some rough patches and riding another big passing day by senior QB Chirs Lum to rout Fordham, 34-12, at Jack Coffey Field in the Bronx.
But for this Lehigh team clinching a winning season was a mere afterthought, considering so many goals and glorious moments are expected to come.
"We've got a good football team, we really do, and I guess I have to admit that even though coaches are different animals and don't look at things the same way," Coen said. "We're getting ourselves in some situations, which is good, because you have to work your way out of it and we did today."
Lum, who eclipsed the 300-yard mark for the eighth straight game, finished with a gaudy 413 yards (32 of 47) with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
"It was a solid day today," the soft-spoken Lake Orion, Mich., product said. "I'd like to take those two [interceptions] back, but running the ball well like we did helped. We got some great running performances and it helped to set up the play-action and the deep passes to junior WR Ryan "The Answer" Spadola. And the offensive line did really well, too, and gave me time to throw the ball."
Junior RB Zach Barket rushed for a career-high 111 yards on 18 carries, going over the 100-yard mark in a game for the first time.
Senior LB Mike Groome made a pair of interceptions in the second half and Fordham was held to 100 yards of total offense on five possessions following its big touchdown pass.
"I was just in the right place at the right time," Groome said. "The ball came right into my hands and you have to make the play when it comes to you. We gave up a few plays and it wasn't our strongest performance. I still think we did pretty good."

Morning Call: Cecchini has Air Lehigh Back in Flight
Morning Call: Lum Passes Credit for his Passing Accolades
Express-Times: Lehigh Enters Bye On High after Fordham Win
Express-Times: Players, Coaches Praise Offensive Line
Groller's Corner: Gameday Blog, Lehigh at Fordham

This Chris Lum/Ryan Spadola show has no end. Look for another Patriot League offensive player of the week award to be coming Lum's way after he just hit Ryan Spadola for a 62-yard TD pass. Spadola now has 13 catches for 216 yards in yet another spectacular day for pass-happy pair.
*****
The well-oiled Lehigh University offensive machine is finally being shut down.
Though not by choice.
The No. 8 Mountain Hawks put up video game-like numbers in a 34-12 Patriot League victory over Fordham University on Saturday afternoon at Jack Coffey Field with a bye upcoming next weekend.
“It’s a good thing for us right now,” coach Andy Coen said. “We have some guys who could use the time off. If you look at it, it’s 3 1/2 weeks of training camp and you’re right into the season, so it’s 13 weeks of playing football. The bye is coming at a really good time.
“I thought we could be this good and I still don’t think we’ve played the best we can play. We have a good football team. We really do and I guess I have to admit that. We overcame a lot that was bad today but we have some kids who are playing at a really high level.”
“I still think we did pretty good,” said senior linebacker Mike Groome who had two interceptions. “It wasn’t our strongest performance. We have to work better in preventing those big plays. “I think we need a little rest. I know a lot of players are beat up. It would be nice to get a full squad back in action.”
The Lehigh football team has scored 30 points or more six times this season and after all of those offensive feasts, skill-position players are brought into the postgame press conferences.
And almost every Saturday guys like quarterback Chris Lum, receiver Ryan Spadola and tailback Zach Barket mention the work of offensive coordinator Dave Cecchini.
It was no different on Saturday in the Bronx.
"It all starts with the play calls from our offensive coordinator," Lum said after throwing for a career-high 413 yards. "[Cecchini] does a great job of knowing the situation, down and distance, and what defense to expect. He puts us in position to succeed on each play."
Cecchini, in his second season back with his alma mater, is deservedly getting the accolades for the return of Air Lehigh, but then again, he has always been beloved on South Mountain.
He is still regarded as one of the best receivers in Lehigh history and his 1993 season remains — for now — the gold standard for any pass-catcher wearing the brown and white.
Cecchini, recognized as an All-American that year, caught 88 passes for 1,318 yards and 15 TDs — all single-season school records that are likely to be eclipsed by Spadola (61 catches, 1,098 yards, 10 TDs so far) this season.
Before last season, Cecchini was reunited with Coen — the two had worked together under Higgins for six seasons — and suddenly, it was the late 1990s all over again.
The Cecchini and Coen combo has worked wonders and Lehigh's offense is again one of the most prolific in FCS football.
While Cecchini is an offensive mastermind, Coen, who had been a successful offensive coordinator himself at both Lehigh and Penn, deserves considerable credit for bringing back his friend and letting him do his thing.
Coen, who is absolutely beloved by most of his players, can now devote his energies to overseeing the whole operation while Cecchini pushes the offensive buttons.
"It has obviously worked well with Dave coming back," Coen said Saturday. "We work very well together and the kids are right on with what they say about him because he's doing a great job. I will be the first one to say that he's a big reason for our success. He has played a big role in developing Chris into a good quarterback. He's got a great knack for calling plays.
"I still believe you need to have a degree of toughness in the run game, but our philosophy has always been to spread you out and throw the ball down the field. It takes a lot of preparation and a little bit of spontaneity with the play-calling. Sometimes Dave and I are on the same page, and there are times when I ask Dave 'Are you sure you want to do this?' and he says 'Yes' and, bang, it's another big play."
Lehigh quarterback Chris Lum has won the Patriot League offensive player of the week award five times in seven games played so far.
But Lum is well grounded and knows these honors don't solely belong to him.
"There are many other players on this team who could be candidates for this award; I mean Ryan Spadola had over 200 yards receiving last week and the offensive line does a great job every week," Lum said. "I know it's not just me. We have guys on our team working hard at every position, on both sides of the ball. They're all making a contribution."
Lum, knows, however that things are going to get tougher when the season resumes on Oct. 29 at Colgate.
"What we've accomplished so far is great," said Lum, a senior from Lake Orion, Mich. "But the league is wide open and we've got four tough games to play. A lot of things are yet to be determined. We've just got to keep working and try to keep it rolling."
Before the season, coach Andy Coen was curious how his somewhat inexperienced offensive line would hold up without the graduated duo of Will Rackley and Ricky Clerge.
Well, despite a plethora of injuries and shuffling, the O-line has succeeded expectations.
"We had a lot of movement around with some guys injured but I'm impressed with how they've come out and competed," Coen said. "That was the missing piece on offense (preseason) and I think it's come along nicely."
Lehigh racked up 598 yards off offense (416 passing, 182 rushing) on a whopping 90 plays in the 34-12 victory over the Rams, while holding the ball for more than 40 minutes.
"The offensive line does a really good job week in and week out especially battling a little adversity," said junior running back Zach Barket who rushed for a career-high 111 yards on Saturday. "It's a great feeling to run behind them. It's not anything new. I was happy to see the running game pay off a little bit."
Lehigh is happy for a bye this week with numerous players out.
Coen expects Liebler to return for the Oct. 29 game at Colgate. He also said Hood sustained an injury against Fordham and his status is unknown at this point.
"I was an offensive line coach for 20 years and I know how hard it is to get that group where you want it to be and sometimes that doesn't always happen," Coen said. "I'm not surprised. I'm very pleased right now."
The Ram: Fordham Falls Flat on Family Day, Gives Up 598 Yards Against Lehigh

"They're a senior-laden team, we're a freshman and sophomore-laden team," Head Coach Tom Masella said.
Despite all of the opportunities, a young Fordham team, playing numerous freshmen and sophomores on both sides of the ball, never seemed to have a real chance to take down No. 9 Lehigh.
"Lehigh is one of the better football teams I've seen in a long time in the Patriot League," Masella said. "They're really solid on defense, they're good on special teams, and their offense is explosive."
The Mountain Hawks were dominant in every way on offense, with their quarterback, running back and leading receiver all setting career-highs in yardage.
"We're in a tough spot right now because we thought we were gonna be pretty good on defense and early in the season we were good on defense," Masella said. "Now we're playing with a whole different defense. I've never seen anything like it, but's that's not an excuse. But right now we're playing with so many young kids on defense."
Senior quarterback Chris Lum, who recently was named to the Walter Payton Award watch list (the award given to the best player in the FCS), completed 32 of 47 passes for 413 yards and three touchdowns.
"You have [former Holy Cross quarterback] Dominic Randolph and [John Skelton, GSB '10] a couple of years ago that played at a high level," Masella said. "He's playing at that level too, maybe a little higher."
Going up against one of the country's best offenses, Fordham needed its own offense to try to keep up. However, Fordham squandered numerous opportunities, turning the ball over twice in Lehigh territory and dropping several passes, with two leading to interceptions and one costing the team a huge gain.
"We had some chances to make it a game," Masella said. "We didn't make any plays. We didn't make any plays on the offensive side when we had some chances to make it a game."

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