Skip to main content

Round 1 of the 2017 FCS Playoffs: Lehigh vs. New Hampshire!

Stop me if you've heard this before: As a reward for being the surprise outright winner of the Patriot League football championship, the reward is a trip to New Hampshire, the winner headed to seeded James Madison for a second-round game.  And somewhere, Sam Houston State looms on the horizon.

This is the exact situation that Colgate found itself last season, and this year, Lehigh is poised to run through the exact same gauntlet and the exact same teams.

Sunday morning, Lehigh found out their opponents for the FCS Playoffs; the New Hampshire Wildcats.  The game will be played at New Hampshire at 2PM EST, and will be available to watch on ESPN3 on your computer and possibly ESPN Gameplan Pay-Per-View on your TV.

The good news about the draw is that New Hampshire and James Madison, though not exactly simple destinations for football games, are doable drives from the Lehigh Valley.  And, as Colgate last year proved, they shouldn't be seen as daunting, impossible games for the Patriot League Champions.

Yet with this draw comes a tinge of disappointment for those of us who were hoping for a home game against St. Francis (PA), Albany, or maybe even Villanova.

The thought was that Lehigh had a competitive bid for a home game, but that the lack of stadium lights may have made it a non-starter.

"First, second and quarterfinal-round games broadcast on ESPN3 may start no earlier than 1 p.m. local time," the NCAA pre-championship manual states.  "Preferred game times will be taken into strong consideration; however, finalized game times will ultimately be determined by ESPN in consultation with the NCAA."

Though no official explanation has been given for Lehigh not getting a home game, the existence of this above rule is problematic for Murray Goodman Stadium, without lights.

Lehigh home games are always 12:30 PM kickoffs during the regular season for this reason, to make sure that there is plenty of time to get the game in before the sun goes down completely.

With a mandated 1:00 PM start and a current sunset in Bethlehem at 4:39 PM at this time of year, there would be considerable doubt as to whether the game could be completed without additional lights being necessary, not only for the field but the unlit parking areas as well.

Many times in years past, FCS playoff games have had noon kickoffs, including games at Murray Goodman Stadium.  The 1PM restriction is more recent, and it is unclear whether an exception could have been made here, or not.

The upshot is, however, Lehigh will be sent on the road to play the Wildcats, who last saw Lehigh in Durham in 2014, where they won fairly handily, 45-27.

"I figured that's probably where we would go as that's been the pattern lately for Patriot League teams," Lehigh head coach Andy Coen said. "I'm excited about it. We have a history with New Hampshire. I haven't seen them this year but they played Holy Cross early in the season and it was a competitive game. I think our guys will be up to the challenge."

Junior WR Troy Pellietier had a little gleam in his eye about playing New Hampshire, as his hometown (Deerfield) is about a half an hour from where the game is being played (Durham).

"It's really exciting," he told LehighSports.Com.  "I've got a ton of friends and family that will be able to go to the game, and I've got a lot of friends on the team, so it will be a great experience."

Despite the fact that it's going to be the first playoff game for all the members of this Lehigh team, Pelletier didn't think it was going to be too different than any other week.

"We're going to approach it just like any other game this season," he said.  "Follow our process, and get better each and every day."


Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

What To Look For On Sunday For the FCS Playoff Pairings

Lehigh are the Patriot League Football Champs, and will be playing in the 1st round of the FCS playoffs.

The FCS Playoff Bracket is going to be revealed on ESPNU at 11:00AM on Sunday on a selection show.  The team will be watching the selections live at the Goosey Gander to find out who they will play, and where.

The chance that Lehigh will host a home playoff game appears to be very slim.  Though record is technically not in consideration for whether a team will host a first-round game, other considerations (the lack of lights, no Noon playoff starts) make it difficult if not impossible to host a playoff game at Murray Goodman unless temporary lights are brought in.

Being that's the case, it seems very likely that Lehigh will be playing somewhere on the road in the 1st round.  Below the flip, I will give the bracket predictions of the experts and three things I think you should watch for during the selection show.