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Showing posts from November 27, 2011

Lehigh 40, Towson 38, Final

It was billed as a shootout between two of the top offenses of FCS.

And it was, indeed, a shootout between the the powerful running game of Towson, and the powerful passing game of Lehigh.

It was billed as a game for supremacy in the East.

It was, indeed, a showcase between the champions of the Patriot League and the champions of the Colonial Athletic Association, or CAA, for Beast of the East.

But with all that was billed and all that was hyped the last two weeks regarding this game, played in front of a sellout, standing-room crowd of 11,196 at Johnny Unitas Stadium, nobody could have anticipated that the outcome of the game, the game-winning play, would come on Lehigh junior DE Tom Bianchi sacking Towson QB Grant Enders in the end zone.

Breaking Down Towson, FCS Playoffs Second Round, 12/3/2011

(Photo Credit: The Baltimore Sun)

My brain says the bye week is a good thing for a football team.  Injuries get an opportunity to heal, there are more hours in the week to break down game film, and the student-athletes get a few days to sit back, relax, and contemplate what they've accomplished this year.

(It also gives another week for senior LB Mike Groome's playoff beard to grow out, to allow "Mike's beard to be big enough for everyone", as senior LB Colin Newton told me this week.)

But it also means that the wait for this weekend, with a full holiday weekend in between Lehigh's last regular season game and this week's "elimination game", has seemed endless.

But the wait is nearly over.

Below the flip, see Towson broken down, as well as my "Keys to the Game" - and, of course, the "Fearless Prediction".

Game Preview: FCS Playoffs Second Round, Lehigh at Towson

(Photo Credit: Doug Kapustin, The Baltimore Sun)

If past performance were indicative of how things are going to go this Saturday, Lehigh would have nothing to worry about.

In eleven meetings with the Tigers, Lehigh   has gone 10-1 against Towson, and lit them up for more than 40 points in five of those meetings.

But nobody at Lehigh has any illusions that this Towson team will resemble those Tiger teams from the 1990s and 2000s.

The Tigers' story is an easy one to admire: from a 1-10 season to a 9-2 record in the SEC of FCS, Towson is easy to like, too recently a member of the FCS "haves" to be hated by anyone.  But even though they're a feel-good story, there's a reason these Tigers are CAA champions.  They are loaded with talent.

The Amazing, Different, Powerbroking Football History of Towson

While doing research this week for the matchup between the Tigers and Mountain Hawks, I looked into the archives of my blog, as I often do, for special insight on the history of the team Lehigh is to face.

You might think there would be something - anything - in there about an early 2000s matchup with the Tigers, or, perhaps, something about their time in the Patriot League.

You'd have been wrong, however.

The history of Towson is at once different, for the most part frustrating.  And yet, they are a crucial reason why the Patriot League is here today, with a bid to the FCS playoffs.

Were the Tigers powerbrokers in the world of FCS football, too?  I think you could make that case.

Lehigh Prepares for Towson

(Photo Credit: Stephen Flood/The Express-Times)

Lehigh's success in the Patriot League has been well documented, as this year is the tenth league championship the Mountain Hawks have achieved.

When it comes to success against the champions of the most dominant FCS football in the East, however, Lehigh has enjoyed a few good battles - but have almost always lost.

Lehigh has gone on the road and beaten the champion of that conference only once, the famous 24-23 win in 1998 over Richmond.  (They then lost a heartbreaker at another opponent from that same conference the following weekend, 26-20 to the eventual FCS National Champion UMass Minutemen.)

If you think the scope of the task of going on the road and defeating the CAA champion is going to intimidate this group of Mountain Hawks, though, think again.

"People look at us as a non-scholarship program and maybe think we're a fluke; but we're looking forward to proving people wrong," junior WR Ryan Spadolatold Kei…

Towson Making A Believer of the Commander-In-Chief

(Photo Credit: Karl Merton Ferron, the Baltimore Sun)

It was a poorly-kept secret that President Barack Obama would be making the first-ever presidential visit of Towson.

The first basketball fan, whose brother-in-law is Craig Robinson, the head basketball coach of visiting Oregon State. was there to see a Division I basketball game.

But when the game was arranged last year, few folks thought that the President would be taking pictures with the CAA champion Towson Tiger football team - who were on campus preparing for their first-ever Division I home playoff game.

As a Lehigh fan, I couldn't help but hope that the presence of the President, First Lady Michelle Obama, and the First Family would distract the Tigers just a little from their gameplans for Saturday.

Sunday's Word: Thankful

For the second straight season, Lehigh's football team will be playing after Thanksgiving.

And for the second straight season, Lehigh will also be playing in a second-round game in the FCS Playoffs.

For these two reasons alone, there is plenty to be "thankful" for this holiday season, for Lehigh fans and players alike.  As we run-up to the playoff showdown against Towson, though, it's worth taking a look back from where Lehigh was, and where they are now.