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2012 Mountain Hawks of the Year

Out of 128 seasons of Lehigh football, only ten teams have enjoyed ten victories or more, and the 2012 chapter of Lehigh football was one of those ten rare teams.

Most of the ten victories did not come easy, which, combined with the perception of a weak schedule, had to be the reason why Lehigh was the first 10 Division I-win school since the expansion of the playoffs to 20 teams to be denied a playoff bid.

That shouldn't take away from the great accomplishment of this 2012 Mountain Hawk team, however.

There is plenty to celebrate from 2012, and plenty of good things to write about. 

The cardiac 28-26 victory at sold-out Liberty, in front of nearly 20,000 intense fans, before the Flames would end up being Big South co-champions. 

The heart-stopping wins against Fordham, Holy Cross and Georgetown, which all came down to the last play. 

And, of course, falling behind 21-10 early to Lafayette in the 148th version of "The Rivalry", before roaring to a 38-21 victory and shott…

FCS Playoffs Help Distract from a Tough Weekend

Overall, people in the Northeast are tough.

Maybe it's the cold, New England winters, the thick atmosphere around the financial and media centers of the large cities, or maybe it's just something in the cold melted waters in the tiny hills we call mountains.

 Or maybe it's some of the calamities we've had over the last decade-plus. 9/11. Terrorism threats. Multiple storms that have knocked out power, crippled businesses and wrecked homes.

The latest happened this Friday, in a tiny, upper middle-class Connecticut hamlet only a half an hour from where I grew up.

My toughness, and a lot of the toughness that exemplify many of the people in the Northeast, disappeared.

Like many others, I wept for the victims of Newtown. But I was also appreciative for two hugely entertaining FCS football games that provided a very welcome distraction from the horrible events of Friday.


Wagner to Patriot League in Football Could Open Up Great Rivalry Opportunities

(Photo Credit: Staten Island Live)

While the news has broken that Quinnipiac and Monmouth will be accepting bids to the MAAC conference and leaving the NEC in all sports, nothing is official just yet. 

The MAAC's presidents will be conducting a formal vote on the matter tomorrow, and until then, it's technically speculation.

So is the thought of Wagner and Monmouth headed to other football conferences - something that seems fairly logical, should their moves to the MAAC be confirmed.  The MAAC does not sponsor football, and while the Hawks and Seahawks could spend $250,000 in exit money and then re-apply for associate, non-voting membership in the NEC for next season, it's far from clear whether either party would welcome the arrangement.

If Wagner is thinking about joining the Patriot League in football, what could that mean to them?

It could open up an interesting concept I've felt has been a missed opportunity for years - annual contests to see who's the best …

Realignmentaggedon: Monmouth, Quinnipiac and Wagner to the MAAC

According to sportswriter Mark Blaudshun, a 30+ year beat veteran of college football now residing in New Jersey, a key move was made by two schools, Monmouth University and Wagner College, that affects the FCS football landscape next season.

"Conference reconfiguration continues on all levels," the short blog post stated.  "According to the sources familiar with the process, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will add Quinnipiac, Wagner and Monmouth from the Northeast Conference. The announcement will be made on Friday."

In and of itself the announcement doesn't directly affect the Patriot League.  But it might.

With their move to the MAAC, a conference which does not sponsor football, the Seahawks and Hawks now have to make a decision on their football programs.

The 150th "Rivalry" at Yankee Stadium

It was one of the worst-kept secrets of the 2012 season. 

Even though it was unconfirmed for many months, people in the know heavily suspected that something big was on the horizon for "The Rivalry" for the upcoming 150th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette.

In 2014, when "The Rivalry" celebrates its 130th birthday, the game will be played outside the state of Pennsylvania.

In two splashyannouncements before the 148th meeting between the two rivals right before Thanksgiving, Lafayette and Lehigh jointly announced that the 150th game - Lafayette's home game - will be contested at the new, 36,000 seat Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Realignmentaggedon: Should The NCAA Intervene?

If you've been following collegiate athletics like I have, you've undoubtedly seen the latest news flying around this week as colleges have been dumping long-standing conferences like, apparently, top military brass have been dumping husbands and wives.

Maryland abandons the ACC, a conference which they've called home for 50 years, to join the Big 10, for little other reason than cash money to bail out their near-bankrupt athletics department.  Rutgers abandons the Big East, a conference which they've called home for more than 20 years, to join the Big 10, for little other reason than cash money to fund their struggling athletics department.

From there, all hell has broken loose, as Louisville has leapt to the ACC to replace Maryland, while the Big East seems convinced that East Carolina and Tulane are acceptable replacements for the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights, and the forgotten conferences of FBS, Conference USA and the Sun Belt, reshuffle their deck chairs to ref…

Do We Belong?

By now you've heard Lehigh was not selected as an at-large team to the FCS playoffs, despite their 10-1 record.

While most years, most Lehigh fans, including myself, would pull ourselves together, accept our fate, and then pull together and root for Colgate to make a run to Frisco, this year it hasn't been the case.

There is still a lot of bitterness out there.  And I know why.

It is not just the function of one playoff snub.

It is the mounting evidence over the last couple of years that Lehigh, and by extension the rest of the Patriot League, is a part of FCS, but not really.

Lehigh Puts Eleven On All-Patriot League Teams, Two on All-Academic Teams

(Photo Credit: Express-Times)

For their end-of-the-season awards, the Patriot League released their postseason all-Patriot League teams for both academics and athletics, and unsurprisingly, Lehigh athletes put plenty of athletes on both lists.

Seven Lehigh athletes made the first team offense and defense: senior WR Ryan Spadola, senior OL Mike Vuono made it on offense, and senior DT Sajjad Chagani, senior DE Tom Bianchi, senior LB Billy Boyko, senior CB Gabe Johnson and senior FS Billy O'Brien cracked the first team.

Senior QB Mike Colvin, senior LB Sam Loughery, junior LB Nigel Muhammad and sophomore OL Ned Daryoush all made the Patriot League second team, while Spadola and senior RB Zach Barket made the more important list: the Patriot League All-Academic team.

More academic awards and athletic awards await, but congratulations on these awesome Lehigh athletes for what they've accomplished.

Lehigh's Tentative 2013 Schedule

With Lehigh's season being over, thoughts have started to come towards the Mountain Hawks' 2013 football schedule, as people start to wonder if the shots from across the nation about having a "soft schedule" might have any traction again next season.

The answer is that Lehigh will be playing ten of the eleven teams they played last season - with one crucial exception.  A road game at Liberty will be replaced with a home game against a team that arguably was the team that kept Lehigh out of the field, New Hampshire.


Sunday's Word: Unfair

Lehigh won ten Division I games this year, something that only three other schools managed this season. 

Only one, North Dakota State, was the autobid champions of their conference; the other two, Old Dominion and Montana State, not only made the FCS Playoff field of 20 with ease, they were seeded as one of the Top 5 teams in the country.

Lehigh won their final game of the year against their bitter rivals, Lafayette, in impressive fashion, winning 38-21, a three-score victory. 

In contrast, FCS playoff participants New Hampshire, Illinois State, and Wofford lost their games by three scores or more, to Towson, North Dakota State, and FBS South Carolina, respectively. ( The Wildcats, in fact, gave up 64 points for the second time this season, falling 64-35 to a team, Towson, that Lehigh beat in the first round of the playoffs last season.)

Lehigh went 10-1 on the season, and even led at halftime over the eventual Patriot League champions, Colgate, before falling in the second half.  Th…

Lehigh 38, Lafayette 21, Final

(Photo Credit: Facebook/Will Rackley)

 Down 14-3 and 21-10, early on it looked like Lehigh's playoff hopes, already dimmed by the Mountain Hawks' loss to Colgate, might be done in completely at the hands of their bitter rivals, who were looking for their first win over Lehigh after being unsuccessful in their last four tries.

Then Lehigh put together their best half of football of the year.

Scoring 28 unanswered points, and shutting out the Leopards in the second half, the Mountain Hawks finished the regular season with a resounding 38-21 victory.

Ultimately, it wasn't enough to get to the postseason, even though it would have been for the first time since the playoffs expanded to 20 teams that a team with 10 Division I wins would not qualify for the FCS playoffs.

But that shouldn't obscure a fantastic effort by Lehigh's class of 2013 to stay undefeated against "That School in Easton" and their achievement of being only the 10th team in school history…

Flashback: November 20th, 2010: Lehigh 20, Lafayette 13

(Photo Credit: Joe Gill/The Express-Times)

(Note: I wrote this two years ago after Lehigh beat Lafayette in an impressive defensive struggle in the Mountain Hawks' last trip to Fisher Field.  The "more" link takes you to the rest of the original article.)

Two years ago at Fisher Field, J.B. Clark clutched onto the Lehigh/Lafayette MVP trophy throughout the post-game press conference as if someone were going to snatch it away from him.

This year in Easton, bearded senior LB Al Pierce, a man of fewer words than J.B., didn't have the hardware with him after Lehigh's 20-13 victory over Lafayette in the 146th edition of "The Rivalry". He won the MVP trophy, though - the first defensive player to do so since 2000, when CB Matt Salvaterra did so - but when he spoke to the media after the game, the trophy was nowhere to be found.  When asked about the award, he said that it hadn't really "set in yet".


Somehow, that was fitting for a senior leader…

Game Breakdown, The 148th, Lehigh at Lafayette, 11/17/2012

We break down the Lafayette game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

Checking Twitter and Facebook is not exactly an exact science when it comes to trying to gauge how fired up a team, or a fan base, is.

After a slow start to the trash talk for the 148th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, though, there's evidence that the Hate is making a late-week rally as the sheer inevitability of the Rivalry game tomorrow has built the tension.

Still, the biggest question for both Lehigh and Lafayette is: Which team will show up for four quarters?

If there's one consistent theme from both sides, it's that people have been waiting for both teams to play four quarters of well-executed football.  Will either be able to do so?

Flashback: November 21st, 1987: Lehigh 17, Lafayette 10

Since becoming an undergrad at Lehigh back in the late 1980s, I first heard about the historic nature of the football team and "The Rivalry" through the stories that fellow students would share.

And from then until today, the overriding memory of the final time a football game would be played at Taylor Stadium was that it was one of the coldest days for the Game that anyone could remember.

"I remember it being one of the coldest games ever," Mark Redmann recollected, "with strong Northwesterly winds and the temperature hovering around 20.  By the end of the game, the stands were half empty because most of the fans just couldn't take the cold.

"Fortunately, several of my fraternity brothers snuck in flasks to help fend off the chill."

Game Preview: The 148th: Lehigh at Lafayette, 11/17/2012

(Photo Credit: Ed Koskey, Jr./Special to the Morning Call)

When you study "The Rivalry" as long as I have, the overall trends of Lehigh students, Lafayette students, the football players, and the citizens of Bethlehem and Easton break apart, and the individual stories from each specific instance come to the fore. 

Specific "game to end all games", detailed game riots,  freezing games, or unusually hot games get broken out, sometimes breaking from the normal expectations of The Rivalry in general.  The Rivalry endures, and there are similar stories of seasons being made, or broken, or riots, or order, but occasionally games do have variation.  Not every Rivalry game is the same..

The story of the 148th meeting of the most-played rivalry in all of college football is probably more different than anyone might have ever imagined before the season.

For Lafayette, the story is one of unmet expectations, unbelievable tragedy, and, ultimately, they hope, redemption.  For …

Flashback: November 17th, 1962: Lehigh 13, Lafayette 6

It was the end of an era - in more ways than one.

Sure, Lehigh and Lafayette students had performed midnight raids on the others' campuses plenty of times before, and done plenty of shenanigans in the towns of Bethlehem and Easton, some above board, some not.

"The Rivalry" has always involved pranks, including the occasional arrest for painting the Lafayette Leopard Brown and White, for example.

But in 1962, at a smaller scale yet predating the big stuff that would be coming in six short years at Kent State ("Four Dead in Ohio", Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young), it seemed like there was a rising level of tension between law enforcement and students in the air in the game between Lehigh and Lafayette in 1962.

"Over 400 Lafayette students marched on Easton Nov. 15th after the annual pep rally and bonfire before the Lehigh game and had to be dispersed with fire hoses," the Lafayette reported.  "Observers said the demonstration was the most riotous d…

Flashback: November 23rd, 1912, Lehigh 10, Lafayette 0

"At last Lafayette approaches the real climax of her football season," the Leopard paper of the time, The Lafayette, stated on November 22nd, 1912.  "The football world always watches this contest with the closest interest for it is the greatest of the annual struggles between small college teams.

"To the ardent supporters of these two colleges, even the Yale-Harvard game is but a minor incident in comparison to the deciding of this championship.  No matter how many games Lehigh may lose during the season, she always tackles Lafayette with a sturdy confidence and hope of victory.

"No matter how many great games Lafayette wins in the season she always enters this struggle ready to fight, knowing that upon the outcome depends the real success or failure of the season and knowing that her opponents will be worthy of every possible effort."

After an era of near-complete dominance by Lafayette in "The Rivalry", in 1912 the roles of the Brown and Whi…

Housekeeping before the 148th Meeting

I have some things to do before the 148th this weekend in Easton - namely, two weeks of players of the week (since I forgot for Holy Cross in my zeal to cover the Colgate game) and some links wrapping up last week's game.

Something that has muted the party  this week has been the heartbreaking story of Lafayette QB Zach Zweizig, whose father, 56, tragically died from complications of a stroke earlier this week.

My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.  I love "The Rivalry", I really do.  But some things transcend it.

Lehigh At 12 in Coaches Poll, 14 in Sports Network Poll

Everyone surrounding Lehigh hopes that they're "in with a win" against Lafayette this Saturday. 

This week, the two major nation FCS polls gives them even more hope that the Mountain Hawks are in the field of 20 with a victory in the 148th meeting with the Leopards.

With Lehigh's rank at No. 12 in the Coaches' poll, and No. 14 in the Sports Network poll, and assuming, of course, that a win will only help their chances and not hurt, it seems more likely than it did 24 hours ago that the Mountain Hawks could be in the field of 20.

Sunday's Word: Blessed

This will probably be the shortest "Sunday Word" ever. 

It will not deal with the playoff field, or much about the game Lehigh lost last weekend.

There are a lot of disappointed fans, players, and people around the football program.  The Patriot League championship this year is Colgate's.  They earned it.

But the season is not over.

And it's time, instead, for Lehigh to count their "blessings".

Playoffs will happen, or they won't.  10-1 will happen, or it won't.  But this team is so "blessed".

Colgate 35, Lehigh 24, Final

After the weatherman promised a mostly sunny day on November 10th, the day of the Patriot League championship game at Murray Goodman stadium, there was instead a gray haze that persisted throughout the football game.

Like the weather, the game was also a story of the unexpected. 

Few thought the Colgate offense would be held to just 35 points, after creaming Lafayette for 65 points the previous week.  Many also were surprised that Lehigh could only manage 90 rushing yards against the No. 7-ranked rushing defense in the Patriot League.

The grey weather didn't affect the outcome.  It didn't affect the passing game, the running game, or the kicking game. 

But on a damp, strange, overcast day in November, the magic ran out for Lehigh.  The undefeated Mountain Hawks fell in a war on Saturday, 35-23, busting up a season that almost seemed predestined to be Lehigh's from the outset.

Hate The Gate Top Games No. 1: Colgate 34, Lehigh 33, 11/8/2008

Four years ago, the roles were reversed. 

Lehigh, playing for a thin chance at a Patriot League championship, hosted nationally-ranked Colgate in their chance for glory that season.

They had them on the ropes - but could not finish them off.

But it took an epic drive, and a great pass from QB Greg Sullivan to WR Pat Simonds, to get the job done.

"It just came down to that we made too many mistakes," coach Coen said after the game. "Obviously extra points, you've got to start right there. That obviously hurts; that changes the flow of the football game. Penalties in the first half, turnovers in the first half, giving them the ball on a short field. You can't make mistakes like that, and we've been making too many of them during the course of the season. You add them up in one point games, and it's tough."

Read my original recap of this game

Game Breakdown, Colgate vs. Lehigh, 11/10/2012

We break down the Colgate game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

Not much more needs to be said about the importance of this game.  Essentially, it's for all the marbles.  It's why both teams practiced in March and April, why they sacrificed their time and energy all fall, why they, essentially, do this.

It's worth, though, looking at some detail as to how Colgate won these games.

In all four games, Colgate scored a touchdown on their first possession.  No punts, no turnovers, no field goals.  Touchdowns.

In three of the four games, Colgate scored a touchdown on their second possession.  Bucknell forced a punt in their game against the Raiders, but Colgate has mostly scored touchdowns there, too.

My point is that a big part of Colgate's success has been early success.  If football is a game of momentum, the Raiders have been successful in large part by getting out of the gate early, and then just continuing to roll forward.  In fact, last week aga…

Lehigh/Colgate Top Games No. 2: Lehigh 21, Colgate 14, 10/30/2004

The best part of this particular game was not only the win for Lehigh, and not only the fact that it ended up clinching a playoff game, in retrospect, for the Mountain Hawks.  It's that it was my first-ever real sportswriting piece, for the now-defunct I-AA.org, detailing Lehigh/Colgate and the rivalry that had built up in the years before.


Below the flip, behold my first "I-AA Diary" of the game, in its entirety, pulled from the top-secret LFN archives as the No. 2 "Hate the 'Gate" classic.

Lehigh/Colgate Top Games No. 3: Colgate 10, Lehigh 3, 9/22/1979

Lehigh head football coach John Whitehead knew Colgate head football coach Fred Dunlap well.

Very well, in fact. 

Whitehead, the offensive coordinator for the 1973 Lambert Cup-winning Lehigh squad, was the architect of Lehigh's "Wing-T" offense, under Dunlap, that had driven the Engineers to new heights.

Under both Dunlap and Whitehead, Lehigh struggled mightily in the late 1960s.  But the Engineers had a major resurgence in the 1970s when Lehhigh went from doormat to Lambert Cup champions.  By the end of Dunlap's time at Lehigh, he guided the Engineers to their final "Middle Three" championships and for good measure put Lehigh in the Division II playoffs, their first postseason berth of any kind.

In September of 1979, Whitehead would, for the first time, coach against the same man who taught him how to be a head coach.  For Dunlap had taken the opportunity to coach at Colgate, his alma mater, where he'd go to become head football coach and athletic d…

Game Preview: The Patriot League Championship Game: Colgate at Lehigh, 11/10/2012

"The word is that Dick Biddle's squad is in "rebuilding" mode with the graduation of RB Nate Eachus," I confidently wrote back in the preseason of Colgate's chances for the Patriot League title in 2012.  "The Raiders' backs will still get the yards, but the real question is: can their defense get back to the world-beating form of the early noghties?"

Picking them to finish fifth, as others had, seemed a no-brainer.  Even though QB Gavin McCarney returned for his junior season, his continued growth, and the development of the offensive system around some new, young guys, couldn't result in a title run for a "rebuilding" squad, especially with a defense that needed to find an identity, could it?  Especially without Eachus, who made the Kansas City Chiefs' roster?

With the Patriot League championship and FCS playoff autobid on the line this Saturday, the answer couldn't be clearer.  Yes.  They can.

The Raiders' "…

Lehigh/Colgate Top Games No. 4: Lehigh 20, Colgate 15, 11/4/1961

The Doris Day-esque face, presumably a co-ed from nearby Cedar Crest, leaps off the official program of the Lehigh/Colgate game of November 4th, 1961.  A reference to a "House Party" on the cover, and "inside!  A computer in the University!" only adds to its snapshot in time.

The first-ever meeting of the Red Raiders and Engineers at Taylor Stadium (or Packers, as the Brown & White had then started calling them) was expected to be a loss for a Lehigh squad that wasn't expected to do much after a 4-5 season under hall of fame head coach Bill Leckonby.

"An underdog for last Saturday's game, as it has been for most of the season," the B&W said, "the squad displayed a powerful ground attack in the first half, accounting for two TDs, and an alert, spirited defense in the last two periods."

It would only be the second home game of the year for Lehigh at Taylor stadium - five of their first six games, save a 20-6 win versus the Merchan…

Lehigh/Colgate Top Games No. 5: Colgate 35, Lehigh 6, 11/4/1922

In honor of Lehigh/Colgate week, I thought it appropriate to look at some of the Lehigh/Colgate games over the years and talk a bit about some of the highlights.

"Hate the Gate" was a term first accredited to LB Tom McGeoy the week before the Colgate game back in 2006, and while the rivalry aspect of this game is a more recent phenomenon, driven largely by Patriot League championships and FCS playoff berths, the first-ever meeting of these two squads came on a cold, November afternoon in Binghamton, New York.

It would be the only meeting of the pride of the Lehigh Valley and the pride of the Chenango Valley before the modern era, back in a day when a barnstorming college football team was a critical tool to recruit general students, not just athletes.  The trip to Binghamton was a recruiting trip for both schools, but the Maroons, as they were then known, were aiming quite a bit higher than the Brown & White when it came to football at that time, and it showed.

Sunday's Word: Irish

Is it hokey?  At times.  Do I believe it's exactly the way things happened?  Absolutely not.  But my favorite all-time football movie is, and remains, Rudy, and his quest to become a member, even if for just a day, a member of the Fightin' "Irish".

Aside from being one of the few football movies my wife will willingly sit down and watch with me, the "based on real events" story somehow, almost twenty years later, hits just the right notes and proceeds at just the right pace as Rudy Ruettiger goes from junior college to South Bend to dressing for a game.


Not coincidentally, Rudy was broadcast this past Saturday night on NBC, and the airing no doubt was spurred by the surprising real-life Notre Dame football team, who sits undefeated at 9-0 and also sits at No. 4 in the BCS.

This season, the parallels between the team with golden helmets in South Bend and the team with the golden helmets in Bethlehem come into focus.

Lehigh 36, Holy Cross 35, Final

(Photo Credit: Jerome Gordon/Facebook)

The term "Any Given Sunday" comes from the film by Oliver Stone of the same name, but it really comes from Steve Sabol and NFL Films, and the music and sentiment those films provided.  "On any given Sunday..." I can still imagine Mr. Sabol bellowing, with the military-esque soundtrack backing him him... "even a 1-8 team can beat the best team in the land."

This Saturday, we almost saw one of those types of moments at Fitton Field in Worcester, Mass.

Not looking anything like a one-win team, Holy Cross gave Lehigh every single last thing they could handle, rattling off 21 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter against the No. 1 defense in the Patriot League and putting themselves in position to fire off the game-winning 43 yard kick with 11 seconds to play.

The field goal would barely have the distance, but would be just wide right - the margin between winning and losing the game.  Lehigh's 36-35 win would be the s…

Game Breakdown, Lehigh at Holy Cross, 11/3/2012

We break down the Holy Cross game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

In my preview piece yesterday, I talked about the craziness of this series, featuring bad weather, power outages, and the like.  Adding to the intrigue is that this Saturday, for the Crusaders, it's Senior Day.

Ask anyone around the game of football, and they'll tell you senior day always adds a wrinkle to a contest.  No senior in uniform wants to lose on senior day - and sometimes, seniors who haven't played up to their potential suddenly rise up and find a sense of urgency to win at home, one last time.

It's another reason to throw the record out the window this weekend up in Worcester.

There's also the other matter of Boston College, Holy Cross' rival from another time, agreeing to allow Lehigh to practice there a day early thanks to the power outages that continue to disrupt the Lehigh Valley. 

That the BC Eagles would help Lehigh out has Crusaders of a certain age see…

Game Preview: Lehigh at Holy Cross

If there is just one thing you, dear Lehigh fan, take away from this Holy Cross preview, let it be this: Tom Gilmore-coached teams never give up, and morespecifically, never give up against Lehigh.

In a series punctuated by power outages, snowstorms, close shaves and just outright weirdness, you can make a very good case that when Lehigh plays Holy Cross, you throw the records out the window.

The 1-7 Crusaders showed some of that fight last weekend vs. Fordham, a 36-32 heartbreak of a loss that had Holy Cross with the lead up until the last 11 seconds of the game.

In that game, Holy Cross didn't look like a 1-6 team, and you can count of the fact that the Crusaders won't look like a 1-7 team out there this weekend, either.

Sunday's, Monday's, Tuesday's Word: Sandy

(Photo Credit: CNN)

The bye weekend is always a weird weekend, mainly due to the fact that there's no football game to recap, no game to travel to, no undefeated record on the line.

It was made weirder, too, by "Sandy".

The epic "Frankenstorm" - as it's been dubbed - that was headed towards my house and the Lehigh Valley ultimately dwarfed my weekend, even pushing - gasp! - football to one side as I frantically did everything to get the house prepared for the storm.

It seemed to parallel a similar storm that hit a couple top teams in FCS - thus making, for the time being, the Mountain Hawks the only undefeated team in all of FCS.

What To Do on the Bye Week

Admit it.

Even though you have that Halloween party to go to, even though you're preparing for the Frankenstorm, that appears more and more that it's going to pound our area starting Sunday night, even though you're planning on taking your kids to that Halloween party, parade, or trick-or-treating, something's missing.

It's a fall Saturday without Lehigh football.

But cheer up, Lehigh fans.  Even if you don't care to watch Penn State's inevitable loss to Ohio State this weekend, there's plenty of FCS football available on TV and the internet that has a lot more bearing on the Patriot League title race and the Mountain Hawks' standing in the playoff chase.

You don't have to wait for Sunday night.

Players of the Week and Press Roundup, Bucknell vs. Lehigh, 10/20/2012

(Photo Credit: Kevin Mingora/The Morning Call)

I love the picture of this sack by senior DE Anthony Verderame on Bucknell QB Brandon Wesley - a huge sack during the game.

It's a part of the Morning Call's pictorial of the Bucknell game this past weekend by photographer Kevin Mingora, who covers all of Lehigh's home games.

It may seem hard to believe, but there was a time once when finding photos of games online was an arduous task.  Now, between Mr. Mingora's gallery, the Brown & White gallery, and the Facebook gallery from Lehigh Athletics, there are tons to choose from every week.

It's a pretty good time to be a Lehigh Blogger.  (Oh yeah, and 8-0 is pretty nice, too.)

Sunday's Word: Hard

There are 246 schools that field football teams at the Division I level, encompassing both the Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision.

Of those 246 teams, there are 13 teams that are undefeated at this stage of the season.

Lehigh, who competes in FCS, is in a pool of 122 teams they vie in a subdivision that competes with fewer than the 85 headcount athletes that compete at FBS.

Of those 122 teams there are exactly 2 teams that are undefeated at this stage of the season.

There are two teams in all of Division I that currently sit with eight wins, and zero losses: The Ohio State University, and the Mountain Hawks.

And it's time to acknowledge something.

That getting to 8-0 is "hard".

Lehigh 42, Bucknell 19. Final

On a perfect homecoming afternoon, the South Mountain skyline something right out of a fall landscape painting, the stage was set for a perfect Lehigh victory - something that Mountain Hawk fans have been looking for all season.

They didn't get that.

But they still did get a dominating win over Bucknell, 42-19, keeping a perfect 8-0 record for Lehigh and getting the job done against a game Bucknell squad.

And, overall, the good outweighed the bad.  Not the perfect game, surely, but plenty for Lehigh to get into the bye week undefeated.

Game Breakdown, Bucknell at Lehigh, 10/20/2012

We break down the Bucknell game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

When most people think of Bucknell, they tend to think of basketballs, not footballs.

Part of that comes from their upset of Kansas in the NCAA Tournament, the, um, SECOND most talked-about Patriot League upset over a legendary hoops program in the NCAA tournament.

Occasionally, when the Bison start out strong, the local parer, the Daily Item, has some good coverage of the team in their backyard.  It sometimes even shares space with Penn State, whose long shadow covers Lewisburg as well.

But with a 1-5 start, the local reporters don't file the same reports.  After the Bison's 35-7 drubbing at Harvard, there were many Boston-area reports of progress, but nothing from Bucknell's local paper.

Game Preview: Bucknell at Lehigh

Before the season started, I implored Lehigh fans not to overlook Bucknell.

In Year Three of the Joe Susan era, it seemed to me like the Bison, behind a veteran quarterback and an always-tough defense, might be able to build on their 6-5 record last year and, perhaps, make a run at the Patriot League title.

So far, it hasn't worked out quite that way.

After a 19-17 win over Marist on opening weekend, Bucknell has struggled mightily, losing their next five games and averaging only a whopping 9 points per game.

And this weekend, they face off against their third nationally-ranked opponent this season.

Players of the Week and Press Roundup, Lehigh vs. Georgetown, 10/13/2012

This weekend's tilt against Georgetown was unquestionably the most exciting matchup between the Hoyas and Mountain Hawks in the modern era.

You have to go back to 1903 (12-6, Lehigh) and 1910 (6-3, Georgetown) to find two Lehigh/Georgetown games determined by six points or less.

You have to believe, though, that neither team turned over the ball seven times.

And, happily, there are more pictures of this game than those tilts in 1903 and 1910, thanks to the magic of Facebook and Lehigh Athletics.  Their 82 photo pictorial makes sure that it will be plenty immortalized.

Sunday's Word: Hole

Having blamed her, perhaps unfairly, for the death of Kurt Cobain, I never really was able to really enjoy the music of Courtney Love's band "Hole". 

(A fresh listen to "Doll Parts" later, I'm further discovering that I'm still not really enjoying her music today, either, though I'm sure the female angst in her songs really wasn't intended for me, anyway.)

As a Lehigh fan this weekend, it also wasn't very enjoyable to see the Mountain Hawks dig themselves into a seven-turnover "hole" either.

But a funny thing happened about this weekend's game.  Sure, Lehigh dug themselves in a giant "hole", there's no denying that.  But just like they have every other week, they dug themselves out of it - which, in the end, was the most important thing.

The ability to dig yourself out of a hole is not something most teams can do.

Lehigh 17, Georgetown 14, Final

The old saying goes that there's no such thing as a bad win.  "A win's a win", they say.  And it's true.  Lehigh goes to 7-0 on the year after defeating Georgetown 17-14 at Multi-Sport Field in Washington, DC.

But Lehigh's offense did their best to test that saying this Saturday.

The Mountain Hawks - astoundingly - overcame seven turnovers, including four interceptions from senior QB Michael Colvin, and then hung on to win on after the Hoyas final 37 yard field goal attempt was partially blocked by senior DE Tom Bianchi in the closing seconds.

Like so many of Lehigh's wins this season, it wasn't for the faint of heart.  Of the Mountain Hawks' seven wins this year, five have been determined in the last three minutes of regulation.  And including this Saturday's game, three have been determined in the last ten seconds of the game.

Game Breakdown, Lehigh at Georgetown, 10/13/2012

We break down the Georgetown game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

It must be said that Hoya head coach Kevin Kelly, who is in his sixth year coaching Georgetown, has to get credit for presiding over one of the most incredible turnarounds in FCS history.

Sure, there have been coaches that have gone from D-III to partial scholarships - you can look to legendary coaches like Albany head man Bob Ford and Wagner athletic director/head coach Walt Hameline.

Coach Kelly, who built upon the legacy of former head coach Bob Benson, didn't start out at zero scholarships when he came here.  But it was no secret that Georgetown has plenty of challenges that weren't shared by, say, Lafayette, who underwent  a multi-million dollar athletics renovation of football facilities that Hoya fans could only dream of.  Many thought their institutional challenges were something that simply couldn't be overcome.

In a world when many were thinking that football could not succe…

Game Preview, Lehigh at Georgetown, 10/13/2012

Winning doesn't change everything.  But it changes a lot.

That's something you don't have to say too loudly to any Georgetown Hoya fan over the last few years.

While nobody will be confusing Georgetown for Maryland, Navy, Duke or even Delaware anytime soon, the Hoyas, finally have made headway in carving their niche in Washington, DC.

Ten years ago, or even five years ago, people might have laughed if you told them to "watch out for Georgetown".  That speaks more to their tough overall history in the Patriot League than anything else.

But this year, building off two years of winning records and near-misses for the Patriot League championship, there is no more laughter.  They've simply won too many games to not be wary of the Hoyas.

Players of the Week and Press Roundup, Columbia at Lehigh, 10/6/2012

(Photo Credit: Kevin Mingora/Morning Call)

It may have been pacing break, but the Columbia/Lehigh game wasn't lacking photo and video evidence that it occurred.

I don't know if it was the overcast weather, the colder, more fall-like  temperatures, the pink or what, but the shots of the game from Kevin Mingora of the Morning Call look absolutely stunning, as do the shots from the Brown & White photographers that were at the game.

I'd encourage you to go over there and check out the Morning Call's eleven-page gallery, which is filled with great shots. The shot above, too, comes from that collection.  And there is a album of pictures from the Brown & White as well as a video recap of the game as well from Alec Murphy.

They make my whopping two pictures on the Facebook Page seem pretty dim in comparison.  Then again, I didn't get to field level this game!

Sunday's Word: Sunny

It was not a "sunny" day this last Saturday at Murray Goodman stadium.

And just like the rain threatened but never came on Saturday, Lehigh threatened to make the game into a laugher this weekend, but somehow the dominating performance never came, and the Mountain Hawks let Columbia stick within striking distance until some late touchdowns finally led to the 35-14 win.

But as I was leaving the post-game press conference, a ray of sunlight bathed the field, and I snapped this shot of the scoreboard and field - the only "sunny" part of the weekend, I believe.

In a strange way, it seemed to sum up the Lehigh season thus far - "sunny" because the Mountain Hawks are 6-0, but with clouds on the horizon.

Lehigh 35, Columbia 14, Final

Highlight reels can be very misleading.

I'm not saying, dear reader, that Lehigh's 35-14 win over Columbia was bad.  Not at all.  The Mountain Hawks went to 6-0 this afternoon at Murray Goodman Stadium, in front of a pacing break crowd of a little over 5,000 fans.

But if you simply judged this game by looking at the highlights, you wouldn't get an accurate impression of how this game unfolded.

Sure, Lehigh jumped to 14-0 and 21-7 leads, and the Mountain Hawks made some bursts of impressive plays to score touchdowns on Columbia.  But it was critical Lehigh mistakes that led to the Lions' 14 points - which put a bit of a damper on the post-game celebrations for Lehigh head coach Andy Coen.

Water Cooler: The Collegiate Cash Drop

Sometimes, I wonder what I'm going to write about the world of FCS on a Friday afternoon.

But then, an idea drops in from out of the sky.

Almost literally.

That's after I discovered, thanks to Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated,  of Georgia State's effort to buy fans get students and fans to show up at a football game featuring a nationally-ranked opponent in FCS facing off against your 0-5 team.

That's to have - get this - a halftime drop of cash.

The Facebook promotion to my left is no joke.  No joke at all.  At halftime, Georgia's Own Credit Union is going to be dropping $10,000 cash from the rafters in order to booster attendance at their game against nationally-ranked New Hampshire this weekend.

It's probably not the dumbest idea in all of sports, but it's certainly up there.

Game 6 Breakdown: Columbia at Lehigh, 10/6/2012

(Photo Credit: Columbia Athletics)

We break down the Columbia game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

WEATHER UPDATE: The weather situation for this weekend is evolving at this point, though the high of 68 and the 30% chance of showers remain.  Isolated thundershowers are now in the possible weather forecast for this weekend, so pack appropriately.  I happen to think that the weather will hold steady, and if it does, it will be an excellent October day at the stadium, which also happens to be "NCAA Take a Kid to the Game" day.

And when you do, Joe Uliana, ambassador to the Lehigh football program, also has this to say:

Off the field, we will be honoring the 55th Anniversary of the 1957 Lambert Cup Team at our pregame tailgate at the Ru…

Game Preview, Columbia at Lehigh, 10/6/2012

If Columbia head coach Pete Mangurian ever wants to take on another line of work, he'd be a great blogger.

Perhaps it's understandable that he hasn't done a lot of blogging in his first year as the Lion head coach - I can imagine he's, um, a bit busy -  but his blog makes for interesting reading when he does.

Last weekend, after a particularly tough 33-6 defeat to Princeton,  Mangurian made the game about something other than the lopsided score, or the turnovers - he made it about the fans.

It also highlights that Mangurian is in the middle of a rebuilding job at Columbia, and the fact that there will be growing pains as he crafts a winning football team in upper Manhattan.

Players of the Week and Press Roundup, Fordham at Lehigh, 9/29/2012

(Photo Credit: Kevin Mingora/Morning Call)

Sometimes, the most exciting, entertaining games are the ones you least suspect, and this well-recapped Fordham/Lehigh game was one of them.

I can't recall a week when it was so abundantly clear that there needed to be three special-teams Players of the Week.  As much as I tried to narrow it down, I couldn't - all three made such huge contributions, I simply had to include them all.

Sunday Word: Gone

I don't know why, but there were an awful lot of echoes to me, for some inexplicable reason, of the Lehigh/Hofstra playoff encounter at Murray Goodman Stadium this weekend.

Well before senior PK Jake Peery's walk-off 23 yard game-winning field goal this Saturday, I was getting flashbacks to RB Trevor Dimmie's fumbled toss, QB Luke Ciannello's improbable march downfield to tie the Pride with 19 seconds to play, and PK Brian Kelley's game-winner in overtime - one of the most exciting games I've ever witnessed at Murray Goodman stadium.

It's a game in the past - a happy memory for Lehigh fans.

But something else fans should remember, too, is that there "ain't going to be no rematch" of that fateful game in 2001.

For Hofstra's football program is "gone".

Lehigh 34, Fordham 31, Final

In the game of football, it's not easy being the placekicker.

Frequently, it comes all down to you - the guy with the relatively-clean uniform, who trots in from the sidelines, to attempt to deliver the game-winning points.

He's the guy who could come in, at the peak of the offense's big drive, and get "iced", the guy who shanks the kick, who keeps the breath of hop alive for the other team.

The kicker is the ultimate finisher - one way or another..

With two seconds lef tof the clock, senior PK Jake Peery, a perfect 4-for-4 on kicks on the afternoon, lined up on the 13 yard line - the exact spot where he nailed a 23 yard field goal midway through the second quarter.  Hero or goat.  There was no third option.

It was clear that the soft-spoken Baltimore, Maryland native was at a loss for words in the postseason celebration and the postgame interviews, after he was mobbed by teammates after his 23 yard boot gave Lehigh a last-gasp 34-31 win.

It yet another cardiac…

Water Cooler: Catching Up with Life after Lehigh Football

The famous NCAA saying for student-athletes goes "Most of us go pro in something other than sports."

For Lehigh athletes, of course, that is true.  But that doesn't mean that, often, the pursuit of sports opens the door for unique opportunities after graduation.

This offseason, I caught up with two former Lehigh football players, QB J.B. Clark and LB Colin Newton, whose pursuit of athletics has given them unique experiences internationally.