Skip to main content

Lehigh Gets Chase-d Out Of the Bronx, 59-42

Say Doc Brown had shown up at your house October 21st, 2015, and told you something about the upcoming Lehigh/Fordham game.

Suppose he lets slip that senior QB Nick Shafnisky would go out with an injury before halftime, and that Fordham RB Chase Edmonds would set a Patriot League record for rushing yards in a game while getting over 400 all-purpose yards.

Would you have gone to the game?

Would you have bothered to be one of the 5,000 fans in attendance who watched the No. 11-ranked Rams face off against a game Mountain Hawk squad?

The truth is, even though the loss was certainly frustrating and a teeth-gnashing reminder of what could have been, with two minutes to play in the game freshman PK Ed Mish lined up at the 27 yard line with a chance to make it a one-score game.

At what was effectively the "two-minute warning" in the game, Lehigh had battled all the way back from Shaf's injury, their own penalties and mistakes, and put the Mountain Hawks in a position to steal the game away.




"The first thing I told the guys was that I was pleased with their effort and how they competed," head coach Andy Coen said. "That part of the game was awesome."

Few folks knew what to expect from the 3-3 Mountain Hawks, who had put up 42 points on Penn yet given up more than 50 to the only other Top 25 team they'd faced, James Madison.

Yet predicting what would happen in the future at any point in this game in the Bronx was nearly impossible.

At halftime, the score read Lehigh 21, Fordham 17, with the Mountain Hawks stuffing the Rams' last drive of the half with an inspiring stop at 1st and goal at the 9.  Junior LB Colton Caslow, junior LB Pierce Ripanti and senior NG Greg Palma came up with big tackles for loss and a couple of sacks.

On offense, Shafnisky had been expertly guiding the offense down the field.  With a beautifully-executed play at the goal line, a leaping touchdown grab by sophomore WR Gatlin Casey, and a steady diet of freshman RB Dominick Bragalone, the Mountain Hawks were out-dueling the Rams in the first half.

But that didn't tell the whole story.

"Unfortunately, we're still our own worst enemy," Coen said.  "Whether its penalties or turnovers, you can't beat a good team with those. They're trying to learn that lesson. If you're going to keep turning the ball over more than everybody else, it's hard to win games."

All 17 of Fordham's points were set up by turnovers.

Two came by interceptions by Fordham CB Caleb Ham, and the third came on a questionable ruling on a fumble attempt by Bragalone where it seemed like he was down before the ball was stripped.

"If anyone had said before the game that Lehigh would turn over the ball three times before halftime but Lehigh would have the lead," The Morning Call's Keith Groller told me, "I'd have called them crazy."

Yet that's where Lehigh stood, even though Fordham RB Chase Edmonds had over 100 yards rushing in the first half.  Most of those yards came on one 32 yard run.

Edmonds came out of the locker room like a man on fire, and played like it.

Two 14 yard runs set up Fordham's go-ahead score, a great 30 yard pass from QB Kevin Anderson to TE Phazahn Odom in the end zone.

He would rush for 100 yards in the 3rd quarter, ripping off a 60 yard touchdown run to give Fordham a 38-21 lead and capping off three straight touchdowns for the Rams.

Things looked bleak for Lehigh, but they weren't done making it interesting.

After a jittery start with a couple of interceptions, freshman QB Brad Mayes settled down in the 4th quarter found sophomore WR Sasha Kelsey twice for touchdowns, flashing some of the potential the Florida native has.

It set up the try with 2 minutes to play, and 2 time outs, to attempt to make a last-second comeback.

Yet it wasn't meant to be.  Mish's 37 yard kick hit the left goalpost straight on, and bounced back towards the players, yet another agonizing twist in a game that Lehigh had a chance to win, despite the lopsided score sheet.

"Fordham's an outstanding program with a lot of talent and a great coach and they do a great job, but they were a beatable football team today and we just didn't get it done," Coen said.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Nick Shafnisky Is Pushing Hard to Get To Play at the Next Level in Football

"Don't take anything for granted, just keep pushing."
Those are the words of QB Nick Shafnisky, told to The Whitehall-Coplay Press all the way back in 2013, about his preparation as a high school athlete.
And they seem to summarize the Whitehall, PA native perfectly, then as now.
Dubbed the "Male Athlete of the Year" by that publication, the article goes on about Shaf's many exploits at Whitehall high school - leading the Zephyr football team to a co-Lehigh Valley Conference title, becoming the first player ever in that conference to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards, and earning the league's co-MVP award as well.
He also was a member of the Zephyrs playoff basketball team, and for good measure also helped set a record for the 4x100 relay team as well.
At Whitehall, and at Lehigh, coaches pushed him, but it was his own hard work that helped make him the best athlete he could be.
This weekend, Shaf, like every eligible college football player, will be …

#TheRivalry 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.

I did not attend the final meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette at Taylor Stadium, which was the final time a football game would be played there.

Those that did attend said that was that it was cold.

"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."

Dominick Bragalone Goes Into Monster Mode As Lehigh Is One Win Away From Title

It has been a most unusual season for Lehigh.

Starting the year off at 0-5 and getting swept in their out-of-conference schedule, the Mountain Hawks were in danger of having their season go off the rails.

But two things have come together over the last five football games that have put Lehigh on the brink of back-to-back championships.

The first is the late blooming of the Lehigh defense, which kept battling every week since the low point of the September 30th loss to Wagner to do the job in four of their five Patriot League conference games. 

The second is the development of junior RB Dominick Bragalone into a bellcow running back, a back who has to be in the conversation for Patriot League offensive player of the year.

In five Patriot League games, Bragalone has run for 863 yards in 5 games, rushing for 11 touchdowns and adding two more receiving touchdowns as well. 

The South Williamsport, PA native certainly wasn't unknown before this week - after all, as a freshman and a sop…