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A Door Opens To A Possible Championship For Lehigh Football

One thing was known going into the game this weekend: Lehigh's chances at playing for a share of the Patriot League championship were in the hands of others.

Fordham, the undefeated leaders of the Patriot League, were in control of their own destiny.  If they won their last three games, they would win the Patriot League, and there was nothing that this young Mountain Hawk team could do about it.  At best, they would be second place.

This weekend, Colgate upset the Rams 31-29 in Hamilton, and thus opened the door for a co-championship.

If Lehigh beats Holy Cross this upcoming weekend, travels to Hamilton and beats Colgate, and returns home and beats Lafayette in the 151st meeting of The Rivalry, Lehigh will at least win a share of the Patriot League championship.

That's something to celebrate.


This weekend I thought my lawnmower had died.

In the middle of mowing my lawn last week, it ran out of gas, and I couldn't pull the cord to get the engine to turn over.

Whether it's because I'm cheap as hell, or because I cannot let a cause die, I took it upon myself to figure out to fix the problem.

I checked the level of the oil.  The oil was black, and dry.  I thought, perhaps, the engine ran out of oil, and the engine had seized up.

I thought the lawnmower may have been done for, but I was damned if I wasn't going to do everything in my power to figure out how to get the engine running again.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, I couldn't simply let things lie.  I had to know if it was possible to start it up again.

I tried to manually turn the blades underneath the mower.  They moved.  That was, to me, a good sign.  That means the engine didn't seize up because the oil in the engine was old.

I took out the air filter.  It was in rough shape, with tons of dried grass in it.  I shook it out, got rid of as much of the particulate as I could, banging it on the ground to get it as clean as I could.

I added a bit of motor oil to the mower, hoping that it also might percolate through the system and lubricate what needed to be lubricated.

I filled the gas tank halfway.

After all of this, I finally pulled the cord to try to start it.  Dammit, START!  It would move a little, then stop.  It was obviously stuck on something.  But what?

I turned the mower to its side.  I cleaned out as much grass as I could, and turned the blades trying to get them to move.  Suddenly, the blades wedged in place, and they stopped moving.  I couldn't get the engine to move at all.

I stopped for a moment, thinking that it was finally finished.  I had tried almost everything short of taking apart the engine, and now I've wedged the engine so it can't possibly work again.

Yet even at this point, I can't let the dream die.  Much like a Lehigh football season, I have a hard time letting it all go.  I pretty much don't listen to anyone else.  I don't even pay much attention to the preponderance of evidence that things are completely hosed.  I think there's more to be done.  There must be.  I am not convinced that this is it.

One last time, I take the cover off, and take a look a the place where the cord meets the engine.  I don't know how to really fix what's wrong, or perhaps not totally knowing what I'm doing.  But I grab a can of WD-40 and spray it on all the exposed parts.  I didn't drench all of the areas with WD-40, but I did enough to at least - I hoped - work out whatever the blockage was.

Ideally I'd have done so after taking the engine apart, but this would have to do.  I put the cover back on, and tiled the mower again, rotating the blades.

I was surprised; there was some progress.  It wasn't running perfectly, but - against all odds - the obstacle was removed.  I was able to pull the cord the whole way, now.

Now, it was just a matter of effort.

PULL.  It doesn't turn over.

PULL.  It doesn't turn over.  But the resistance is gone.

I knew it I would eventually work.

After about twenty pulls, I had a running lawnmower.

That's how I work.

There are many people out in the world that want to tell you that you can't do something, that a dream is finished, that you'll never be able to figure something out.

Last week, a lot of people probably would have said that this senior class' chances at a championship season were somewhere between slim and none.

There were times during this weekend's game, too, where it felt like things might not turn out with a win.

On 4th and 1, there were no guarantees that junior QB Nick Shafnisky wouldn't come off the bench and score a touchdown to put Lehigh up 33-21.  The conversion run could have gone nowhere, and then the Hoyas could have driven 99 1/2 yards to take the lead.  I've seen it happen to Lehigh before.

As it stood, Georgetown didn't go quietly into the night.  QB Kyle Nolan helped Georgetown drive the length of the field to cut to deficit to 33-28, meaning an onsides kick needed to be recovered, and a first down secured to get the win.

All the while, Colgate's two touchdown lead with a minute to play was erased by Fordham, thanks to some amazing play by Fordham WR Austin Longi.  After hauling in a pass to make it 31-23, the Rams would recover and onsides kick, and, with 0:00 left on the clock, pull down a last-gasp touchdown to make it 31-29.

Fordham would have two shots (!) at the 2-point try, after the first one had a pass interference call.

The second try was batted down by Colgate LB Kyle Diener at the line of scrimmage - interrupting a pass that was headed directly towards a Ram receiver to send the game to overtime.



Thus it was a few, tiny plays that separated Lehigh and Georgetown and Fordham and Colgate this weekend.

I like to also think that what separated the victors from the defeated was a lot of not letting dreams die.

A lot of people digging down, and maybe not even fully understanding at the time how they are supposed to do something, only knowing that they have one job, and they won't let anyone else deny them their goal.

As a result of so many on both Colgate and Lehigh not letting their dreams die, it sets up meaningful games in November for the Mountain Hawks.

And as the results of the Colgate game were made clear to head coach Andy Coen, a smile escaped his lips.  "Maybe I won't be shaving off this beard after all," he said.

We are back to having meaningful Lehigh football games in November.

As the engine of my lawnmower finally spurted into life, I felt an overwhelming amount of satisfaction.

Today, not knowing what the future holds for them, I feel the same type of satisfaction for this Mountain Hawk football team.  They are back.  They have earned this shot, and I can't wait to see what they do with it.

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