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Lehigh At Georgetown Narrative Street: Avoiding The Same Fate As Monmouth

Although you see big, bright smiles on the faces of senior CB Brandon Leaks and senior WR Trevor Soccaras when talking about the performance over the last four football games, their focus has understandably been on Georgetown and guarding against a possible letdown.

Such thought is undeniably warranted, especially if they caught the college football scores from yesterday.

There was only one college football game being contested Thursday night, which was Monmouth vs. Presbyterian.

The Hawks, who already beat Lehigh on opening weekend and also beat Fordham last weekend, had a short week to prepare for their Thursday game.  But few people thought they would struggle against 1-4 Big South leaguemate Presbyterian, who had already lost to a Division II school (Florida Tech).

Instead, the classic letdown game happened - a 17-13 loss that almost certainly doomed any chance Monmouth has to not only win the Big South, but also to qualify for any sort of at-large postseason berth.




“This was a game where we knew we needed to execute in all three phases of the game and quite honestly we didn’t do that in order to win," Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan said after their shocking defeat.  "Too many times we hurt ourselves with penalties that put us in some tough spots. We gave up some big plays on defense and were not able to generate anything consistently on offense.”

Critical in this defeat for Monmouth were three aspects that Lehigh would do well to guard against.

The first was a slow start on offense.  The first four drives on offense for the Hawks resulted in punts, and Presbyterian went into halftime with a 7-7 tie.

The second was they let Presbyterian hang around long enough so that one singular big play, a 44 yard touchdown to WR Daryl Wilson, gave the Blue Hose the lead.

The final piece was an offense that couldn't get the final touchdown under pressure that it needed to come away with the win.

"We have a positive vibe throughout practice, throughout the week," Leaks told Greg Joyce of Lehigh Valley Live, "making sure you understand that we can have emotion, we can be happy, we can come out and fly around, but at the same time, remember we have to win every game — point, blank, period," Leaks said. "We have to come out and every team — we have to come out with energy and play like it's our last game because every win counts."

Talking to Keith Groller of The Morning Call as well, Leaks also talked about defensive preparation and how that unit has been playing so well during the second halves of games.

"We're making good defensive changes," the Simpsonville, South Carolina native said. "We always go into a halftime knowing what a team is going to do because before a game they don't always show their hand. And then it's important for us to come out with emotion. Once we get into the second half, we know we don't have a second chance, so it's important to play with emotion."

Head coach Andy Coen also sounded out the alarm on Georgetown in the Lehigh Football Report from LehighSports.com.

"They had a lot of momentum early in the season," Coen said.  "This is going to be a tough game for us.  You look at their front six guys on defense, and they're outstanding, they'll play for anybody in our league.  They have always given us fits.  They're a very proficient football team, with Rob Sgarlata as their head coach, and these games always scare me, without a doubt."

If anything, Monmouth's loss yesterday serves as a fresh reminder as to why coach Coen should be very wary.

"You never know what to expect," Leaks told WFZ 69 news.  "You can always look at film, but film can only say so much."

*****

Photo Credit:  (Max Morenberg/B&W Staff)
Not to be lost in the run-up to Georgetown game are three great stories about Lehigh athletes.

One comes in The Brown and White and features TE Zach Bucklin, who got his first career reception at Yale.

“It was a fake run play to one side and the quarterback runs to the other side,” Bucklin said. “So he faked left, he ran to the right and I pretend like I’m blocking the guy on the edge. Then I run out and this time he threw me the ball. And I caught it.”

Another comes from LehighSports.com featurette in the Lehigh Football report about senior WR Trevor Soccaras, a wideout that sometimes doesn't get the same headlines as junior WR Troy Pelletier or junior WR Gatlin Casey but is just as critical an option for Lehigh's quarterbacks in key situations.  (At 7:49 in the video)

"It's been a ride, it's been great," he said.  "When I leave here, I want people to remember me as the player who just does his job.  I really hone into my role here as a slot receiver, I am the kid who kept chipping away.  He wasn't a big touchdown guy, a big deep ball guy, but he was the guy who would actually get that first down for us to keep moving the sticks, or the guy who gets that few extra yards on first down.  If you remember me like that, I'll be very pleased with myself."

Finally, Campus Insiders has a featurette on senior QB Nick Shafnisky and sophomore QB Brad Mayes you won't want to miss either.  "Senior Lehigh quarterback Nick Shafnisky and sophomore quarterback Brad Mayes are seemingly interchangeable when it comes to the Mountain Hawks’ offensive success. The two attribute the achievements on the offense to their close relationship."

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