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The Need For A Lafayette Football Nation Has Never Been Greater

(Photo Credit: Harvard Magazine)

Last weekend, Lafayette traveled up to Harvard to play the Crimson up in Cambridge.  It was the 19th meeting between the Leopards and the Crimson, a series that started in 1966 and has been a frequent event since the early 1990s.

It was a pretty historic game, too: the 700th football game contested at Harvard Stadium.

In years past, you might have found members of the local Lehigh Valley media making a trip up to Boston to cover the game from an independent Lafayette perspective, and you would have seen a recap online and some postgame quotes from the postgame press conference in there as well, as well as seeing an article or two about the game in the Sunday paper.

This weekend, though, there was nothing.

The recap in The Morning Call was not the great work of Paul Reinhard, who freelances for the paper - they didn't pay him to go up to Cambridge to take in the game and ask John Garrett about the progress of the team.  Instead, someone added a top…

LFN's FCS Top 25, 10/17/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25And my No. 1 and No. 2, James Madison and North Dakota State, amply proved their worth again in tough conference matchups where they ended up victorious.

It wasn't as easy as the 30-8 final score might indicate, but James Madison finally solved the Villanova defense in the fourth quarter just when the Wildcats were threatening to tie the game.  The Dukes' remarkable winning streak just keeps rolling along - since losing to Colgate in the FCS playoffs in 2015, defending FCS National Champions James Madison has gone 20-1, their only loss coming to a North Carolina team last year that played in a bowl game.

North Dakota State's 27-24 win, however, against the runner-up in last years' FCS Championship game, Youngstown State, was a prizefight won in overtime when PK Cam Pedersen booted a 36 yard field goal to beat Bo Pelini's Penguins' on the road a…

Patriot League Fans Stunned At the Firing of Tom Gilmore at Holy Cross

It was clear that Holy Cross' 32-0 loss to Yale wasn't going to yield many highlights for their end-of-the-year DVD.

“We just couldn’t string anything together,” head coach Tom Gilmoresaid after the loss. “They got us on our heels. They were executing some big plays and it snowballed. Yale kept the pressure on and it one of those days we couldn’t flip the momentum.”

At 2-5, the Crusaders did, and still do, have a chance to win the Patriot League, if they win the rest of their games and Lafayette loses twice - certainly not an inconceivable notion.

Even so, Holy Cross athletic director Nathan Pine sent shockwaves through the Patriot League this weekend when he called head coach Tom Gilmore and told him that he was being terminated immediately, with Brian Rock, the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, taking over in an interim basis.

“Traditionally I’m not a proponent of a mid-season change,” Pine told Jen Toland of The Worcester Telegram-Gazette, “but I’ve …

Lehigh Goes 2-0 In Patriot League Play With Critical 54-35 Win Over Georgetown

The 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks are known for having a great offense, a high-octane group that features stars like junior QB Brad Mayes and junior RB Dominick Bragalone.

But senior WR Troy Pelletier would trade it all for conference wins.

On an afternoon where he broke a bunch of school and Patriot League records - some of them unanticipated - his focus, as ever, was about getting the league victories that count towards the main goal of this team - to defend their Patriot League Championship.

"I didn't know what the records are," Troy said afterwards about his record-busting, 16 catch, 197 receiving yard, 4 touchdown performance.  "I just knew I was close.  I knew it was going to come if I bought in every day, do what I need to do every day to get better, and I knew it would come."

Fortunately for Lehigh fans, his banner day came to allow Lehigh to resoundingly beat Georgetown 54-35 and go to 2-0 in Patriot League play.

QUICK RECAP: Pelletier's Career Day Helps Propel Lehigh To Victory over Georgetown, 54-35

Before the game, the Lehigh sports social media team had some graphics ready for a record that senior WR Troy Pelletier had a high probability of breaking today.

Troy, or "The Doctor", as I call him, had to get 60 yards receiving to beat the Patriot League record for receiving yardage.

After he skied past that record, the social media folks had to keep assembling a lot more graphics.

By the end of the game, more records would be falling left and right.  The career Patriot League touchdown record - the first time since 2001 since a Lehigh player nabbed 4 touchdown receptions in a game.  Somewhere in the fourth quarter, he'd grab his 16th reception, breaking his own record for receptions in a game.

In the end, Lehigh cruised, never trailing in a 54-28 win over the Hoyas, but the story was Pelletier, whose amazing 16 catch, 197 yard, 4 TD game was the talk afterwards.

How Will I Watch Georgetown at Lehigh this Afternoon?

Not going to the game today?

You're not going to be at Murray Goodman Stadium at 12:37PM today?  It's pacing break, you say?

Well, I'm going to be there.

So how do you catch the game?

Never fear.  LFN's here.

Georgetown at Lehigh Media Pack (w/Video): 1977 Champions Coming Back To Goodman

As a guy who is pretty passionate about his Lehigh football history, it was great to see a national champion on the set of Lehigh Sports Central this week.

QB Mike Rieker, quarterback of the 1977 Division II National Champions, showed up to talk to Steve Degler about his role on that team and share some stories (and some video highlights) about that magical season.

One thing he didn't do is talk about funny locker room stories about head coach John Whitehead.

"It was strictly business with coach Whitehead," he said.  "There was no footing around in the locker room until you left.  He was all business, and it reflected on us, a lot of guys took to heart they didn't want to make mistakes, because you'd have to face him.  He was a tough taskmaster and a great teacher, and he ended up being a really good friend.

An LFN Investigation: What's Wrong with Patriot League football?

This week, Lafayette plays Harvard up in Cambridge, where the 2-4 Leopards are expected to lose to the 2-2 Crimson.  I say expected to lose because with one exception since 2000, that's what's happened every time Lafayette has played Harvard: they have lost 12 out of their last 13 to the Johnnies, and have a lifetime record of 3-19 against them.

The expectation among Patriot League football fans is that football scholarships was supposed to change all of that.  Simply offer conventional football scholarships, add to that a chance to play in the FCS Playoffs, and suddenly football recruits choosing between Harvard and Lehigh for business would start choosing Lehigh.

It hasn't worked out quite that way.

Through five games in 2017, the combined record of the Patriot League is a mind-boggling 8-21 outside of Patriot League contests.   And of those eight wins, only one has come against a team from the Ivy League - Colgate's 21-7 win over Cornell.  Collectively, the Patriot…

Georgetown At Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: A Lehigh Show-Me Game

We break down the Georgetown game - and we give our fearless prediction below the flip.

Like many college football fans, I was surprised to see Maryland start out the season strong with a 3-1 record.

Their lopsided loss to Ohio State has taken some of the shine of the Terps early season, but if they can scrape three more wins against the likes of Northwestern, Indiana and  Rutgers, they could be looking at a bowl bid and a successful, surprising season.  (After the game this weekend, Maryland takes on Northwestern at 3:30 PM on ESPN2, incidentally.)

It's easy to pull for the Terps if you're a Georgetown or Lehigh fan.

First, former Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo is special teams coordinator, tight ends coach and assistant head coach to Maryland skipper D.J. Durkin.  Lembo, a former Georgetown lineman, was head coach from 2001-2005, going 44-14 over that stretch and leading the Mountain Hawks to two Patriot League championships in 2001 and 2004.  He happened to also be skipper du…

Georgetown At Lehigh Game Preview: Enough Was Enough

(Photo Credit: Morning Call)

"When’s enough, enough?"

Sometimes the game narratives can fall into something that seems like a cliche - the old halftime pep talk about "winning one for the Gipper", or something like that.  But this one feels different.

Head coach Andy Coen talked about it, and junior QB Brad Mayes talked about it - about Brad taking control of the locker room at halftime with a team full of long faces.

Going into that locker room, Brad had just before rallied on a broken play to fire a perfect pass to junior RB Dominick Bragalone to cut the two-touchdown deficit to one, and after a special teams touchdown for Colgate was called back on a penalty, the defense stopped Colgate cold to end the half.

But despite the momentum, gloom was still in the locker room.

“As a quarterback, you have to be a vocal leader," Brad told Keith Groller of The Morning Call this week.  "I’ve done it in the past when I was younger and in high school, and even when …

LFN Midseason Report Card: All-Nighter Before Midterm Saves Passing Grade?

We've all been there, Lehigh fans.  I know I was as an undergrad.

You enter the mid-term needing something big to save a bad grade, so you work furiously, trying to catch up on months of the readings you should have been doing, going over homework you skipped for some good reason - that good reason escapes you now, of course - to try to ace the midterm that can pull your grade back up from the dead.

With copious amounts of coffee, you go over the readings, taking the notes you should have been taking all along.  You stay up all night to go over all the material, catching several catnaps during the morning.  You finally enter the classroom of the test - and you deliver the grade you needed.  You save your GPA, and you find yourself finally back on track - and then you collapse in a heap of bones on your bed.

OK, maybe the Colgate victory was not quite like that.

In a way, though, it feels like it - the win injects a huge measure of hope into a season that was pointed in the wrong …

In 41-38 Win Over Colgate, Lehigh Buries Memory Of Winless 1966 Season, And Gives Themselves Potential For More This Season

It was a very different time for Lehigh football, but in 1966, the Engineers started out the season 0-5, and had to travel up to Hamilton, New York to take on the Colgate Red Raiders.

"Lehigh faces its toughest opponent of the season tomorrow afternoon in the Red Raiders of Colgate, at Kerr Memorial Stadium in Hamilton, N.Y," the 1966 Brown and White preview read.

After their 21-15 loss to Colgate in 1966, the Engineers would fall to 0-6 and eventually finish 0-9 on the season, the last time Lehigh started a season 0-6 and the last time Lehigh would go winless in a season as well.

It was that sort of historic elephant that the 2017 Mountain Hawks had on their backs this Saturday, whether they realized it or not.

Had they lost to their Chenango Valley rival, they would have been the first Lehigh football team to go 0-6 in more than fifty years.  0-5 entering this game, ironically their sixth shot at a football victory would involve going to the same venue to play the same op…

QUICK RECAP: Up By 3, Lehigh Throws Out The Numbers And Finds A Way To Win, Beats Coglate 41-38

It was Colgate 28, Lehigh 14 as the first half was coming to a close.  The Mountain Hawks had the ball, but the pall over Lehigh fans everywhere was very evident - "here we go again," most seemed to be thinking.

You couldn't blame fans necessarily for thinking that way, of course.  The Mountain Hawks hadn't found out yet this year how to pull out a game like this, and normally, a two-touchdown deficit to Colgate feels like a four-touchdown deficit, the way they run the ball and gradually crush the spirit of opposing teams.

Driving and scrambling - somewhat of a broken play - junior QB Brad Mayes found junior RB Dominick Bragalone downfield with a big 35 yard touchdown pass, cutting the deficit to 28-21.

And then, gradually, over the course of a half of football, Lehigh put mistakes behind them just as the uncharacteristic mistakes by Colgate seemed to mount.  One Colgate touchdown would be called back.  Then another.  And Lehigh would battle back to tie the game twi…

How Will I Watch Lehigh at Colgate This Afternoon?

Not headed to the the frozen tundra this afternoon to catch the Lehigh/Colgate rivalry?

OK.  I do sort-of understand.  My sled dogs are in the shop, too.  Besides, it is really tough on them to pull the smoker up to central New York when the temperature is 80 degrees. 

So how do you catch the game?

Never fear.  LFN's here.

Lehigh At Colgate Media Pack (w/ Video): Looking For Positives

"We're looking for positives," Steve Degler of Lehigh Sports Central said several times.

And coach Andy Coen did mention a few positive things, like the play of junior RB Dominick Bragalone, and the improved play of Lehigh's defense.

But he also mentioned how important it was to "educate his players" about the rivalry Lehigh has with Colgate as well - how playing up in Hamilton is never easy and this game is a rivalry game.

"Next to the Lafayette rivalry, I look to Colgate next," Andy said.  "We have to educate our young players that this rivalry is a very, very tough one, and I know Colgate view themselves as the toughest guys going, and we need to prove they are tougher than they are."

Lehigh At Colgate Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Will Lehigh Get to Where Their Feet Are?

Lehigh and Colgate is always a big game, whether both teams are going in undefeated or, as in this case, an 0-5 team is squaring off against a 2-3 team.

In a testimony to how evenly matched both of these teams have been over the years, Colgate and Lehigh have split their last 10 meetings, and no team has won more than 3 straight against the other since the inception of the Patriot League.

Colgate and Lehigh have faced off 54 times, and the overall record has been, fittingly, close, with Colgate holding a slender 29-23-2 advantage.  The last tie came in 1980, a 17-17 tie at Taylor Stadium in which Lehigh's John Whitehead and Colgate's Fred Dunlap faced off as head coach.  In a way, that hotly-contested tie sort-of epitomizes the competitiveness of this rivalry today.

Lehigh At Colgate Game Preview: Will Ignition Happen In Hamilton?

Sometimes, the lawnmower engine you've pull-started five times finally gets up and running after the sixth time you've pulled the recoil starter handle - the gas igniting, the smoke billowing, the engine humming. 

And other times, after you pull the recoil starter handle, you hear the parts stirring, something in there wanting to fire, but it doesn't.  Something's amiss - some debris, something out of tune - but the upshot is, ignition doesn't happen.

This is the place where Lehigh football is right now.

The lawnmower that is Lehigh football has ignited - a little.  The engine has had power, and created a whole lot of smoke.  But in the end, each time the system has returned to rest, unable to use the power to get the job done and achieve a single victory.  Things are out of tune.

It's not ideal to have to be in a must-ignite moment against, historically, the second-biggest rival on the football schedule, the team against whom so many epic battles have occurre…

LFN's FCS Top 25, 10/3/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25And this wasn't a week where a lot of teams dropped out, but it was a week where there were a bunch of epic Top 25 clashes that caused some reshuffling in the ranks.

For example, Youngstown State humbled South Dakota State 19-7 at home in a defensive feast, Central Arkansas overcame Sam Houston State 41-30 in a shootout, and South Dakota continued their dominant early-season performance by jumping to a 38-6 lead and then holding off a furious Leatherneck rally to survive in a 38-33 win over Western Illinois.

The Time Is Now: Lehigh Needs to Win A Football Game, Now

You could say that following Lehigh football through the first five weeks has been an exercise in frustration.

That's probably understating things quite a bit.

The season was not supposed to unfurl itself in this way.

The Mountain Hawks, rated in the Top 25 to start the season, remained that way after losing a tough game against Villanova, but then fell out of the national rankings when they followed that up with a loss to Monmouth.

And since, the team has just kept losing, each week more excruciating than the last.

Some Lehigh fans appear to think that the Mountain Hawks could turn things around and make a run at the Patriot League Championship in a world where the Patriot League is a combined 9-20 against out-of-conference foes.

I suppose it is still possible.

But to this fan, this goal can't be the focus of the coming week.

Speaking as a fan, I feel the focus of all the players and coaches needs to be on one singular goal: how to win one, singular, football game.

QUICK RECAP: Winless Lehigh Drops Another At Wagner, Falls 37-20 to go 0-5

In their last 3 football games against Division I competition, Wagner scored a grand total of 34 points in three losses.

Tonight on a cold, windy evening in Staten Island, the Seahawk offense came to life against Lehigh.

The Seahawks scored on their first offensive drives of the first half and second half on big plays, a 50 yard run by RB Ryan Fulse and a 30 yard pass from QB Ryan Massei to WR William Dale.  Fulse would add a touchdown and RB Denzel Knight would add touchdown runs of 24 and 60 yards to put up five touchdowns on the Mountain Hawk defense.

Unlike prior weeks, Lehigh maintained a lead against Wagner during stretches of the first half.  Junior RB Dominick Bragalone got a 26 yard run to give Lehigh and early lead, and junior QB Brad Mayes would take it in on a read option to go up 14-7.

But then the Seahawks would go on a 30-6 run after that aided by five Mayes interceptions.

How Will I Watch Lehigh At Wagner This Evening?

Not headed to Staten Island tonight?

OK.  I do sort-of understand.  After all, you might be avoiding vampires, because the game will end at night.  Perhaps your GPS is broken, and the Staten Island Expressway is something you can't find, or perhaps you're trying to avoid Yankee traffic.

So how do you catch the game?

Never fear.  LFN's here.

Lehigh At Wagner Media Pack (w/ Video): Mountain Hawks Aren't Panicking Over Winless Start

The media in the run-up to the Wagner game has been more upbeat than one might think considering the Mountain Hawks' 0-4 start.

That's not to say that head coach Andy Coen is at all happy with how things have started, but his answers to this week's media questions were not what some fans may have expected.

“I’m disappointed, I’m not going to lie,” he told Keith Groller of The Morning Call. “But again, this is a funny game. It’s never easy. It’s hard to win a game. It really is. At times last year we made it look really, really easy. Right now, we’re making it look really hard.”

On Lehigh Sports Central this week, he said he felt like Lehigh was more competitive against Penn than they were against Yale.

"We just continue to make mistakes," Coen said.  "We got the ball first, and turned the ball away.. we've got to get away from all of that stuff, and start playing better football."

Lehigh at Wagner Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Who Breaks Their Losing Streak?

We break down the Wagmer game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

Like the Mountain Hawks, the Seahawks are aiming to reverse a multi-game losing streak, but Wagner's current problems are pretty much the opposite of Lehigh's.

Since the season-ending shoulder injury to QB Alex Thomson, the Seahawks have had pretty good defensive play at times, but it's the offense that has let them down.  Against Columbia, for example, the offense went 1 for 9 on 3rd down conversions and only was able to put up 14 points.

Worrying for Lehigh, though, is that the offense that they have been able to generate has come mostly from a bruising running game.  Of their 307 yards of offense against Columbia, 187 of it came on the ground.

Lehigh At Wagner Game Preview: Two Teams Battling Their Own Curses

Lehigh has never played Wagner in football, despite the fact that the schools are separated only by an hour and a half drive and that the institutions both sponsor FCS football in an area of the country where nearby opponents are sometimes hard to come by.

Long-time Patriot League fans might remember Wagner as legendary Lafayette head coach Bill Russo's coaching stint before he came to Easton to coach the Leopards for an 18 year stretch from 1981 to 1999. 

Back in those days, Wagner was a Division III school, playing local schools like Iona, Pace, Seton Hall and Fordham, during a time when it was OK to field a Division III football program and a Division I athletics program (this is something that is no longer allowed today).

Since then, though, many Lehigh fans may not know that much about Wagner College, the Seahawk football program, and their ascent to becoming, eventually, and FCS playoff team.


LFN's FCS Top 25, 9/26/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25And, well, was I completely wrong about Villanova and Richmond, who were two of my Top 10 teams that got upset this week?

CAA fans will say that conference games in their conference are hard, but... Albany and Elon aren't known as being the giant-killers in the conference, let's just say.  It's great to see Albany do well, who were awful close to an FCS playoff team last season, and Elon as well, former home of former Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo as well as  the new home of former Lehigh offensive coordinator Drew Folmar.  But are they Top 25 teams?

The Opportunity To Heal Without Permanent Scars

A lot of football teams in the middle of a football season have what is called a 24 hour rule in regards to the outcome of their games.  The rule is the win, or loss is to be celebrated/agonized over for 24 hours, and then it's back to work.

Like the No Cheering in the Press Box rule in the past, I violated that one this weekend.

After the Penn loss, I was mad in a way I hadn't been mad before.  Irrationally mad.  Talking back at the dog mad.  Losses affect me, some more than others.  And this one, for some reason, really hit me hard.

It was 5:00 PM on Sunday, the Eagles had just won on a 61 yard miracle field goal, and the Saints had just humiliated the Panthers on the road for their first victory of the season.  A Saints victory on the road, against a conference rival, something that, as a Saints fan, happens at about the same frequency as Super Bowl visits - and I was still mad about the game yesterday.

That was the point when I realized something was wrong.

QUICK RECAP: Lehigh Hits Rock Bottom In Dismal 65-47 Loss to Penn

Villanova, 38.

Monmouth, 46.

Yale, 56.

Now Penn, 65.

Lehigh's defense has given up 203 points in 4 games, and has given up more than 200 yards rushing to four straight teams.

This week's Ivy League player of the week will undoubtedly be Penn RB Karekin Brooks, who ran for 268 net yards, and scored 3 touchdowns, two on the ground, and one through, of all things, a pass.  It will be the second straight week that an offensive opponent will become a first-time Ivy League Offensive player of the week, the honor last week going to Yale QB Kurt Rawlings.

The Mountain Hawks' opponents have scored in all 16 quarters this year, and they've allowed at least 13 points in every quarter.

The defense hasn't forced a turnover all season, while the offense turned over the ball four different times today, and after each turnover, the defense would yield a score each time, including a brutal one to start the game when Lehigh desperately needed to jump out to a quick start.

For the…

How Will I Watch Penn at Lehigh This Afternoon?

Not going to the game today?

First of all, what's wrong with you?  The weather is perfect!

OK.  So there's a family party, there's a protest to attend, or there are grilled cheese to dunk in ketchup.  They're all good reasons to follow the game from elsewhere.

So how do you catch the game?

Never fear.  LFN's here.

Penn At Lehigh Video And Media Pack: Back To The Drawing Board?

Dominating the narratives in the run-up to the Penn game was a particularly insightful preview article from The Morning Call's Keith Groller, on how the need for changes is urgent amongst everyone in the program.

It's a theme throughout all the preview pieces, but Keith's key excerpt appears below.

"Head coach Andy Coen said that Sunday wasn’t a pleasant day for anyone around the football offices or practice complex as the team tried to regroup from one of its worst losses in recent seasons.

“This was the first game where we couldn’t draw any positives from it,” Coen said. “It was just a bad performance … soup to nuts.

“No surprise, we jumped on them [the players] pretty good. But the kids understand it. They’re not crying about it. They understand why.”

“On Sunday, I got the staff together and just told the guys that we have to make changes whether it’s personnel, whether it’s scheme … we just can’t keep doing what we’re doing,” Coen said.

Penn At Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: How Much Do We Really Know About The Quakers?

(Photo Credit: The Daily Pennsylvanian)

We break down the Penn game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

Last week, head coach Andy Coen made a big deal about the many changes Yale made to their approach on both offense and defense.  Penn will not have the same element of surprise this week - to some degree.

Certainly Penn head coach Ray Priore, who has his main staff intact from last year with offensive coordinator John Reagan and defensive coordinator Bob Benson, will likely have a similar approach to what they want to do on both sides of the ball from last season - after all, they were Ivy League co-champions.

But last week wasn't a normal type of opener for the Quakers.

Playing a Division II school for the first time in program history, Division II Ohio Dominican allowed Penn to play a sort-of experimental setup.  Though Penn got a win that counts in the standings just like any other win, 42-24, using it as a hard and fast rule on how they will come out ag…

Penn At Lehigh Game Preview: A Potential Big-Time Receiving Show Might Feature Watson vs. Pelletier

(Photo Credit: Alex Fisher/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

Both Penn head coach Ray Priore and Lehigh head coach Andy Coen aren't necessarily focused on the numbers and the exploits of individual members of their offense.

Priore, focused on finally beating Lehigh for the first time in his head coaching tenure, and Coen, trying to right the ship after a very shaky 0-3 start, have different things to worry about.

But this weekend's affair at Murray Goodman, if the past is any guide, could have the potential of a highlight reel of tremendous catches by some receivers that are getting looks by NFL teams.

Twice before Penn WR Justin Watson and Lehigh WR Troy Pelletier have played against each other, and both times Watson and Pelletier have lit up the opposing secondaries for some tremendous catches and some amazing numbers.

For Penn, it's allegedly about building off the win over Division II Ohio Dominican last week.  For Lehigh, it's supposed to be about getting their first win,…

LFN's FCS Top 25, 9/19/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25, and let's just get all the drama out of the way now - James Madison is my clear-cut No. 1.

I know, right?  Shocking.

This week saw two Top 10 teams of mine last week go down - and Virginia, the games weren't close.  One might not have been too much of a surprise, as it came against a nationally-ranked team at their place.  But the other stunned a lot of people, including myself, and frankly, I hate missing the call of a Patriot League team upsetting a CAA team.

Weeding Helps Me Vent My Frustrations After 0-3 Start To Season

I know it's not the most mature of responses, but I weeded yesterday.

Our garden, so clean and so perfect back in May, was in mid-September form when I went out there Sunday after Lehigh's loss to Yale.  In this case, mid-September form means the grass and weeds were as high as my thighs, and it was time for me to rip them out.

I'm well aware that I love Lehigh football too much; that it overly affects my mood, sometimes lingering for days or even weeks after particularly bad losses.  That love allows me to summon a passion for the game that sets me apart from others, I think, but the flipside of that love is a frustration that can sometimes only be vented by pulling up grasses and wild growth from a garden that has been growing there unchecked for months.

Yeah; I was frustrated with the loss.  But in the garden, I don't sit there and assign blame to anybody.  I don't grumble about kids, players, attendance numbers, coaches, the weather, the athletic department, o…

I've Seen This Before: Lehigh Falls Behind And Can't Fully Recover, Lose 56-28 to Yale

Stop me if you've read this before.

"Lehigh gives up a couple of early touchdowns.  The Mountain Hawks rally, but mistakes doom them - they turn over the ball on offense, give up some big plays on defense, and special teams miscues make it harder to come back, and they get blown away in the second half."

It describes the Villanova game, it describes the Monmouth game, and now, unfortunately, it also now describes the Yale game this weekend.

On Saturday, the Mountain Hawks gave up a couple of early touchdowns.  Undeterred, Lehigh would get a couple stops and take advantage of good special teams play, and rally to make it a one point game.  Then, a pass interference call would resurrect a Yale touchdown drive, then a Yale sack and fumble recovery would set up another Yale score at the end of the half for a 28-13 edge at halftime.

At the beginning of the second half, Lehigh would score a quick-strike touchdown, but would give up a touchdown in response, getting outscored 28…

QUICK RECAP: Yale Turns the Tables on Lehigh, This Time Beats Lehigh 56-28

In front of about 5,000 fans, Lehigh fell into a too familiar game script.

After falling behind by two touchdowns, Lehigh clawed to get back into the game but ultimately gave up touchdown after touchdown, falling 56-28 in what felt like a role reversal from the Mountain Hawks' big win against the Elis in the Yale Bowl last season.

The Bulldogs racked up 566 yards against the Mountain Hawks, 258 on the ground, and 308 through the air.  QB Kurt Rawlings threw for 4 touchdowns, 2 which went to WR Melvin Rouse en route to a 4 catch, 84 yard day.

Yale RB Zach Dudek had a monster day against Lehigh, running 9 times for 135 yards and 2 TDs, including an absolute backbreaker, a 29 yard run with 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter.

Lehigh's offense ended with 375 yards, but were stopped in key situations and frequently were stuck in 3rd-and-long.  Senior WR Gatlin Casey had 4 receptions, 2 for touchdowns, but couldn't hang on to a critical 4th down catch that might have kept them in…

How Will I Watch Yale At Lehigh This Afternoon?

Not going to the game today?

First of all, what's wrong with you?  The weather is perfect!

OK.  So your Vespa is in the shop, it's the Karate Kid semifinals, or some other very good reason has arisen where you can't make it to Murray Goodman for the game.

Never fear.  LFN's here.

Yale At Lehigh Game Narratives: Into The Unknown

One of the quirks of being a Lehigh fan is that generally, the Mountain Hawks play an Ivy League team in their season opener.  This year, that team is Yale.

This sets the Mountain Hawks up in an odd situation - Lehigh is in their third game, and Yale is an unknown quantity.  It's something that all teams playing against Ivy League teams face, but at times it feels like something that the Patriot League has to deal with more.

Over the years, there's been a back-and-forth debate: who benefits more, the team that's had two weeks to work out the kinks, or the team that has the element of surprise?

“I’d like to believe we have the upper hand," head coach Andy Coen said this week, "because we have played two games and you’d hope that Yale will make some first-game mistakes and we’ll be able to take advantage of them.”

Yale's sophomore QB Kurt Rawlings had a different perspective.

“Being able to go in and have two weeks rather than [against] most teams [when] we on…

Yale at Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Ridiculous, Sublime, Awesome, Or Awful?

We break down the Yale game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

This week, College Sports Journal picked their order of finish of the Ivy League and the Elis were picked to finish 5th, in contrast to the preseason Ivy League media poll, where they were picked fourth.

"Exhale, Elis, you did it," it said.  "For only the second time in a decade, Yale finally beat their most bitter Rival in The Game, 21-14, giving head coach Tony Reno something pleasant to bring into the offseason for a change.  That win, however, somewhat masks a maddeningly inconsistent 2016, where Yale went 3-7, gave up more than 40 points on defense four times, and somehow managed to lose to Cornell 27-13 at Schoellkopf Field.  The win in The Game will provide hope in New Haven and a good feeling in the offseason, but will it translate into a winning season and an Ivy League title run?"

Yale At Lehigh Game Preview: Reclaiming Swagger Requires Facing Uncomfortable History

“The past is the past and we aren’t concerned with it. We have learned from our mistakes, and we are ready to move on.”

That comes from junior RB Micco Brisker, who was quoted two years ago after the Mountain Hawks came back from a trip to Princeton where Lehigh fought hard, but fell, to the Tigers 52-26.

The similarities between that week and this week are something that I cannot shake.

Like this week, Lehigh came back home that season to face off against Yale after a tough, physical loss.  Like this week, the Mountain Hawks were coming off a school record being set by senior WR Troy Pelletier in a losing effort.  Like this week, Yale started RB Deshawn Salter, a mild surprise after the expected starter went down to injury.  And like this week, Lehigh came back home after a loss looking to right the ship.

In 2015, Lehigh lost the game.

In 2015, Brisker and LB Colton Caslow talked a good game about being prepared for that week, fixing mistakes and moving forward.  But it didn't r…

LFN's FCS Top 25, 9/12/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25, and for the second straight week - hold on to your hats - I think James Madison was, and still is, the No. 1 team in the nation.

I know, right?  Crazy.

Truth be known, the top layer of FCS teams did little to move themselves much.  When teams like New Hampshire were beating FBS teams and teams like Villanova were taking FCS teams to the wire, much of the Top 10 proved they were Top 10 worthy teams.

Rebuilding the Swagger Won't Be Easy, But It's Been Done Before

I've been around Lehigh football a long time and I have seen a lot of different Lehigh football seasons.

For some Lehigh football teams, things seem to come easy.  Some teams would come into Murray Goodman Stadium, and the Mountain Hawks would seemingly win before the coin toss.  The opponent already had beaten themselves, intimidated - and all Lehigh would have to do is not do anything ridiculous, and all the home fans would go home happy.

Those types of games reminded me this weekend of the swagger someone like CB Deion Sanders had as a player.  How many NFL receivers beat themselves fifteen minutes before going onto the field because they knew Neon Deion would be on them?
It looks like the for the 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks, this will not be the case.  It was a season that started out like it would be one where things came easy, but that didn't happen.
For whatever reason, this team will have to earn it the hard way, and in so doing, have an opportunity in front of them. …

Monmouth Beats Up Lehigh And Takes Their Lunch Money, Win 46-27

(Photo Credit: Monmouth Athletics)

Football is a physical game, and it requires a tremendous amount of strength to line up, play after play, to push people around down after down.

As a result football games sometimes can evolve into contests where the teams push each other around, and such games can end up where one team gets worn down and the other pulls away for a big victory.

That's what happened this weekend at Monmouth.

The Hawks started out behind the eight-ball early, falling behind by two scores, and then rallying to take a 27-21 lead relatively early in the third quarter.  But the physical beating, slowly and surely, took its toll, eventually knocking the offense out of kilter and the pushing the defense out of the way for their powerful running game.  In the end, Lehigh only could be punched in the mouth so many times, and fell, 46-27.

It was an especially hard loss to take because this isn't how the 2017 season was supposed to happen.

"The tougher man wins,&qu…

QUICK RECAP: A Tough Gut Punch To the Mountain Hawks, A 46-27 Defeat to Monmouth

It pretty much started with RB Pete Guerrerio's 70 yard kickoff to open the game, and continued throughout a bruising, physical football game.

Lehigh would battle back from a 14-0 deficit to take the lead at halftime, but ultimately surrendered the lead as a physical beating took its toll and Monmouth got 4 straight rushing touchdowns, which allowed them to bowl their way to a 46-27 win over the Mountain Hawks.

Mayes would eventually find senior WR Troy Pelletier to break Lehigh's all-time receptions record with 238, but it had to be a bitter milestone to reach as the Mountain Hawks were held to 6 points - a touchdown, and a missed extra point - in the second half.

"Basically, they were a better football team today," a crestfallen Andy Coen said afterwards.  "They want to run the ball, and chew up the clock, and that was very evident here today, that's why they were the better team.  We did a very poor job of 1st downs, we did a very poor job on 3rd down co…

How Will I Watch Lehigh At Monmouth This Afternoon?

Not going to West Long Branch to take in Lehigh facing off against Monmouth?

Never fear: LFN is here.

Kickoff time at Kessler Stadium is 1:00PM.

It is possible to catch the game in a variety of different ways: radio call, video stream, and live stats.

Below, here's how to do it.

Lehigh at Monmouth Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Can Monmouth Beat Lehigh for the 1st Time at Home?

(Photo Credit: Asbury Park Press)

Thanks to Monmouth's game notes and the Asbury Park Press, which is the source of all of this research.

One thing you might want to consider bringing with you to the game on Saturday is clothes to donate.

"At today's football game against Lehigh and tonight's men's soccer game against UMBC members of the Monmouth athletics community will be collecting clothing to be sent to those affected by Hurricane Harvey," Monmouth's game preview says.

It can seem like one is powerless with hurricane destruction in Houston and potential hurricane destruction in Florida, but contributions like this can help make a difference.


Lehigh At Monmouth Game Narratives: Cleaning Things Up For Business Trip To West Long Branch

It was days later, and head coach Andy Coen was still frustrated with last week's loss.

That was the takeaway from the two pieces that came out in the local media this week, one from Lehigh Sports Central, and the other from Keith Groller of The Morning Call.

"Still a lot of frustration there," he told Steve Degler.  "You know there are going to be some mistakes in that first game, but veteran guys, new guys, we made too many mistakes, and gave Villanova too many opportunities.  It was very tough to take."

In last week's post game press conference, and this week's media meeting, the theme was "cleaning up the mistakes".

“We’re really excited and want to put that first ‘W’ in the win column,” junior LB Matt Butler said. “We left a few plays on the field against Villanova; plays we’d like to have back. We had a few mental errors that cost us. We need to clean that up this week.”

Lehigh At Monmouth Game Preview: Revenge for the First Half Shutout

The word "Monmouth" last season became a sort-of shorthand for a humbling experience, a game that should have gone much different than it actually did.

It was usually used in the context of:

"Don't pull another Monmouth."

"Lehigh's been doing pretty great - but they have to be careful not to have another Monmouth."

The memory of last year's loss to the Jersey Hawks stung particularly hard, because it had ramifications that slowed the recognition of Lehigh as a legitimate title contender.  Wile their loss last season wasn't stated as a reason why the Mountain Hawks didn't earn a home game in the FCS Playoffs, it was the one, big blemish on Lehigh's record that may have prevented them from being in consideration for a possible seed (and, by extension, at least one home game).

And yet, last year's Monmouth loss also was important in that the loss in that first game of the year seemed to galvanize the Mountain Hawks, sending a poten…

LFN's FCS Top 25, 9/5/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25, and this week, unsurprisingly, I think James Madison was, and still is, the No. 1 team in the nation.

Not exactly going out on a limb, am I?

If you try to pick FCS games, one of the easiest picks of last week was to take the Dukes to upset the Pirates.  Pretty much all the experts across the board thought that James Madison, even with some suspended players, was stacked enough to take over rebuilding East Carolina, and boy, did they ever.

Remember the days when FCS vs. FBS matchups were defined by the FCS teams "wilting" in the fourth quarter?  With upper-echelon FCS teams like James Madison, that myth has been debunked for a while, but it was brutally apparent in this game, when RB Cardon Johnson easily eluded East Carolina tacklers on two 80+ yard touchdown runs.

That didn't surprise me at all this weekend.  And they're still my No. 1 team.

Lehigh Will Need A Bad Memory, And A Great Memory, As They Head to Monmouth Next Weekend

(Photo Credit: Chris Shipley/The Morning Call)

In the post game press conference, junior QB Brad Mayes was asked about how he felt about his performance in the 38-35 loss - a game where he had a stellar statistical game, with over 400 yards passing, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, but the Mountain Hawks as a team came up short.

The Tampa, Florida native definitely had a fresher memory of what he considered mistakes.

"There were some throws out there that I wish I had back," he said.  "I should have thrown for more than whatever I threw.  Whether it's putting the ball on the outside shoulder, not throwing it low, or whatever - there were some throws I left out there today.  I'm going to have to sleep on it, come back next week, and try to make those throws."

Season openers like this, where your team loses, are rarely deal-breakers when it comes to a football season.  Assuming Villanova continues to surge forward and have a good year, it's likely that …

The Missed Opportunity: Lehigh Falls to Villanova, 38-35, In A Winnable Game

(Photo Credit: Kyle Craig/Lehigh Valley Live)

Head coach Andy Coen would hear nothing of moral victories in the post game press conference.

"I thought we had every opportunity to win this football game," Lehigh's frustrated head coach said.

"When you go through this stuff," he said, flipping through the pages of the post-game statistics packet, "you're going to see a lot of mistakes.  You see it with some young guys, guys in their first game, but we had some guys that where it was just out of character."

It was a game where neither side looked like they were in mid-season form, though you could see the quality shine through offensively on both sides at different times.  So the outcome hinged on mistakes, and who made fewer of them - and that team was Villanova.

That shouldn't take away from the offensive fireworks on both sides.

There was the tremendous blocking up front that set up a great rushing day for Villanova RB Matt Gudzak, who ran f…