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Players of the Week and Press Roundup, Lehigh at Liberty

While it was a bit disappointing to hear from the Lynchburg News-Advance's Chris Lang that their paper didn't bring a photographer to the Liberty game that evening - the more to take of the eminently less exciting Bowling Green/Virginia Tech blowout, even though former Lehigh assistant coach Dave Clawson was there, coaching the Falcons - it did allow me to make my own pictures of the action.  My two Facebook albums of the tailgating and action, #1, and #2, are linked.

Below the flip, find my choices for Players of the Week, and a list of the other recaps of the game from around the internet.

This week's LFN Players of the Week awards will not be a surprise.  They go to:

Offense: Senior QB Mike Colvin (14/24 passing, 195 yards passing, 0 INTs, 77 yards rushing, and two huge rushing TDs)

Offense: Junior RB Keith Sherman (6 yards rushing, 1 TD, 1 huge block on a blitzing Liberty lineman to break Colvin free for Lehigh's critical go-ahead TD)

Defense: Senior LB Billy Boyko (14 tackles, 1 sack, 1 critical interception return for touchdown)

Defense: Senior CB Bryan Andrews (6 tackles, 1 huge pass break-up of Liberty's 2-point conversion attempt)

Special Teams: Junior P Tim Divers (5 punts, 42.8 average, longest 49 yards, 2 inside 20)

Underclassman: Freshman LB/LS Matt Laub (perfect long-snapping, 3 special-teams tackles of KR Kevin Fogg, making him a non-factor)

Congratulations to the winners!

Official Recap: Lehigh Comes Back for Thrilling 28-26 Win at Liberty
The Mountain Hawks didn’t answer with a sustained drive, but they got a big play from Colvin, who sprinted up the middle on a third and three from the Lehigh 32 for a 68-yard touchdown. Jake Peery’s extra point gave the Mountain Hawks a 21-20 lead with 7:41 remaining.

“That was a g great call by (Offensive Coordinator) Dave Cecchini,” head coach Andy Coen explained. “We had the perfect situation there on Mike’s touchdown run. It was perfectly executed.”
Morning Call: Lehigh Comes from Behind to Beat Liberty
Morning Call: Lehigh May Have Had Its Defining Moment in Lynchburg

"We've been looking for a complete game and I am not sure this was one," happy coach Andy Coen said in an understatement after the game.

But while the search for that complete effort continues, Coen knows he's got a special bunch of guys who will battle.

"In the pregame, I reminded them of what we have in this program and that's guys with character, who love the game of football and guys who love to compete," Coen said. "We hadn't competed for 60 minutes the way we are capable of yet this season. We got pushed today and answered the call."

"It's not always pretty, but we know how to win and we have the will to win," said Colvin, whose offense was outgained 488-301 and had the ball a whopping 25 minutes less than Liberty's offense (42:25 to 17:35).

"We're 4-0 and that's all I want it to be. I told the team I'm not going to throw for 400 yards every game and I'm not going to run for 400 yards. I just want to put our team in a position to win. It hasn't been clean, but we keep finding ways."

Colvin said he third-down play call was perfect by offensive coordinator Dave Cecchini.

"It was absolutely the perfect call," Colvin said. "We had drilled that play all week long and we got the defense we were looking for. The offensive line blocked it perfectly and the running back [Keith Sherman] made a good block and all I saw was green grass in front of me. We executed it perfectly."
Morning Call: Parkland Grab Laub Already Making an Impact

Fans generally only notice long snappers when they make a mistake, so Laub's perfect pinch-hit performance may have flown under the radar.

"Probably very few people outside our program know who junior LS Kyle Lechner is, but he has done an outstanding job as our long snapper and when he went down we were concerned," Lehigh coach Andy Coen said. "But the transition to Matt was seamless. He did a great job on the punt snaps and also on the extra-points and in a game like that [a 28-26 Lehigh win] every one was critical.

"He put them all right where they needed to be, and now he's just got to do it again this week."

Express-Times: Lehigh Rallies for 28-26 Win over Liberty

“I’d like to thank senior CB Gabe Johnson for tipping the ball and junior LB John Mahoney and the defensive line for getting pressure,” Boyko said. “I happened to be at the right place and all I could see was the end zone. It was a dog fight and we pulled through as a team and I’m real proud of that.”

Brown & White; Football Rallies for Fourth Straight Win

The Hawks traveled to Lynchburg, Va., to take on the Flames at their own Williams Stadium. More than 17,000 Liberty fans filled the stands, the sixth largest attendance in stadium history.

Down 28-20, Liberty's offense surged deep into Lehigh's red zone with two minutes to play in the game. A fumble in the end zone was ruled a touchdown by officials, and Liberty decided to go for two in an attempt to tie things up. Senior CB Bryan Andrews broke up the attempt, and Lehigh held on to the narrow 28-26 lead with 59 seconds to play.

Senior WR Ryan Spadola then sealed the win for Lehigh when he recovered Liberty's onside kick.

Lynchburg News & Advance: Inopportune Plays Again Sink Flames
Lynchburg News & Advance: Lehigh-Liberty Notebook

The theme has been constant throughout the young Liberty football season. Dominate opponents statistically. Self-destruct and the most inopportune times. It continued Saturday night at Williams Stadium in a 28-26 loss to 16th-ranked Lehigh, a game in which the Flames led in the fourth quarter before another devastating mistake put Liberty into a hole in which it could not climb out.

“The thing that kind of hurts about this week is that we focused on it all week,” Liberty WR Pat Kelly said. “We told ourselves, ‘Attention to detail. Let’s focus. Let’s be sharp.’ Then we come out and make a few mistakes. It’s part of the game, but it’s frustrating to see it week in and week out.”

After the snap, LB Scott Hyland came over the right side on a blitz, but Colvin wasn’t there. He hit an unmanned gap in the defense, and with no one in the box, he raced untouched 68 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

“We had a blitz to the field and a stunt with our line,” Hyland said. “And he just ran right up the line. Everyone was in man coverage. If we would have even stayed squared up without running a stunt with our line, it may have given us a chance. It was probably the worst play call to go against what they were trying to do. They had been running the quarterback draw, but not out of an empty look like that. A great play call by them.”

“I’ve got to come back ready to go,” head coach Turner Gill said. “I love to teach. I love to coach. I love to help young men. I love to teach the game of football. I’m excited to go to work every day. I love what I do. It’s hurtful for the players. They work very, very hard. Obviously, a win is something that helps you inside. But it’s part of life. This is a teaching moment, the way I see it.”

I asked Liberty offensive coordinator Aaron Stamn about both the strategy on the final drive and the two-point conversion. His answers:

On running the clock down on the drive while trailing by eight points: “We just felt like we had some things going in the run game. We just kind of stayed with what we were doing. We did some hurry-up stuff and we had some plays we practiced during the week that we knew we were going to use, certain looks. We felt like we got them, and we kept grinding.

On the two-point conversion attempt: “We felt we had a good two-point play call. It just didn’t work out for us. … Obviously, I wish it would have. But that’s what we talked about running all week, and unfortunately it didn’t happen for us.”


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