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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 28-14 in the second half en route to the defeat.

It's the script that Lehigh has found themselves following the last three weeks, and until Lehigh deviates from that script, the Mountain Hawks will find themselves winless.

"We got beat by a better football team, hands down," Andy Coen directly said after the game.  "We seem like we can't get out of that slump, but that's what's happening to us for all three weeks now.  We've just got to keep working at it, and find a way to fix everything."

From the get-go, the game seemed to fall into the familiar pattern of the losses of the first two weeks.

On Yale's very first play on offense, QB Kurt Rawlings found TE Jaeden Graham downfield - and he could have gotten a touchdown, had he not tripped over his own feet after only a 25 yard gain.

Two plays later, Rawlings would find WR Melvin Rouse open on the right side for a 37 yard gain for Yale's first score.

And it would get worse after a Lehigh fumble soon after, when Rawlings would find WR Christopher Williams-Lopez for a 52 yard touchdown pass over the middle.  He was gone after a short pass and an opening.

Lehigh would play from behind almost the entire game.

"We're not up to snuff where we need to be defensively," Coen said. "We made some changes on our defense after the Monmouth loss and we wanted to be more attacking, so we blitzed quite a lot in this game and there were times it worked out really well for us, and others it was just the opposite. We've got a long way to go working with our defense.  We need to go back to three weeks of football here and look at what we're doing on both sides of the ball and try and figure out what we do best and tailor things down and work on those things."

As the script played out, Lehigh did rally back, getting a 4 yard touchdown run by senior RB Nana Amankwah-Ayeh and yet another pretty touchdown pass from junior QB Brad Mayes to senior WR Gatlin Casey.

But a missed extra point made a tie out of reach, and on the very next series Yale would embark on a 12 play 79 yard drive, ending with a 1 yard plunge by RB Deshawn Salter, to go up 21-13.

Then disaster struck again, after Mayes would get creamed on a sack and Yale would recover and eventually score on a Rawlings pass to WR J.P. Shohfi, catching a pass and getting a foot in bounds in the end zone.

Lehigh gave up 5 sacks on the afternoon, but just like in the Monmouth game, a strip sack/fumble would hugely hurt the Mountain Hawks' chances to come back.

"We've got put out defense in better situations," freshman WR Jorge Portorreal said, who got his first touchdown pass on a 5 reception, 99 yard day receiving.  "We're going to score points every week.  We've got to take care of the ball and put the team in the best situation possible."

Just like prior weeks, Lehigh came out of the gates again with a big-play touchdown.  This week, the recipient was Casey, who beat his coverage for a 66 yard touchdown.

In response, Yale had a 4 play, 63 yard drive capped off by Rouse's second touchdown of the afternoon, a 31 yarder.

"I think it is clear when we give up however many points, and we've given up a lot of points every week, that just about everything is going wrong," senior DL Jimmy Mitchell said. "You can't pinpoint one thing - when the D line isn't getting pressure on pass rush, D-line not penetrating, holding your gaps, the linebackers are not filling the gaps, the safeties aren't getting their feet right on tackles, when you give up that many points, and we've consistently done it, there's certainly not just one issue."

Overall, the upshot was that it was another frustrating loss for Lehigh, and one that puts them at 0-3.  Coach Coen said that his main worry was about "getting better".

"The best thing we can do is focus on our goal of winning the Patriot League, which is still in front of us," Mitchell said. "The fact of the matter is, in the Patriot League, the change of getting an at-large bid is pretty slim, unless you beat some big names before conference play.  We have two games to get ready for Colgate, and we've got to lock in."


Anonymous said…
Who are we kidding? This is the worst defensive squad of Coens tenure. Nova loss was tough..but Monmouth is justa poor team and I doubt Yale will finish top half of the Ivy.. When Holy Cross can blow out By like it did all I can think of is the Dominic Randolph game back several years....unless a miracle occurs in two weeks it's going to be a 2 win Pl season at best

Anonymous said…
meant HE goes out NH...they killed an

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