Skip to main content

In Must-Win Game, Lehigh Defense Forces Four Turnovers And Lehigh Offense Makes Bison Pay, Win 42-21

(Photo Credits: Mike Geer/Lehigh Athletics)

"We went right at 'em."

That was head coach Andy Coen talking to Lehigh Sports' Steve Lomangino after the Mountain Hawks' 42-21 win over Bucknell.

With their Patriot League title hopes on the line, and the No. 1 defense in the Patriot League the opposition, it seemed like the Mountain Hawks might enter into the type of defensive struggle that defined last year's game against Bucknell.

But after junior LB Mark Walker forced and and grabbed a Bison fumble and returned it to the Bucknell 9 yard line, junior QB Brad Mayes didn't mess around.


After one play, Mayes found senior WR Gatlin Casey in a place that was familiar to him - the end zone, that is - and Lehigh leapt to a 7-0 lead.

After a big touchdown run by Bucknell RB Joey Freshnock to tie the game at 7, Coen and the Lehigh offense would fire up the bus.

Junior RB Dominick Bragalone, that is.

Resembling RB Jerome Bettis, he would burst through the line, evade a tackler, and kicked in his second gear to give Lehigh a 14-7 lead, his first of three touchdown runs on the afternoon.

RB Dom Bragalone TD Run
"It's great to see all my friends and family," a happy Dom Bragalone told Steve Lomangino afterwards.  "Just people from our town coming out, and all the support that they show for all local athletes is amazing.  It's always fun coming back home and putting on a show for them."

Both Bragalone and Coen praised the hard work of Lehigh's offensive line in setting up the great offensive day for Lehigh.

"The offensive line has been doing a great job all year," Bragalone said.  "It shows what a great coach Andy Merino is, and the schemes and the playcalls we have.  It's nice to know that we have guys who can back people up if something happens, too."

After a fumble on the ensuing kickoff by the Bison recovered by junior LB Brian Olshanski, Lehigh again would run right at the Bucknell defense again, capping off a short, 33 yard drive with Bragalone's second TD on the day to give Lehigh a two touchdown lead.

Junior RB Micco Brisker couldn't help but get in on the fun, either - with Mayes reading the Bucknell blitz perfectly, he handed the ball off to Micco and Brisker went right through the hole on the blitz, getting a beautiful 22 yard rushing touchdown.

Lehigh would have only 190 yards on the ground, but it felt like a lot more as four of Lehigh's six touchdowns came on the ground, with the other two going to Gatlin Casey, who ended the day with 5 catches and 88 yards.  It felt like every catch he made was either a score or a critical first down.

On offense, Mayes also relied on a lot of big grabs by senior WR Troy Pelletier, who had 9 catches and 97 yards, setting a Patriot League receptions record in the process in his record-breaking Patriot League farewell tour.

Gatlin's last TD was set up by Walker's second forced turnover of the day, an interception to midfield that set up Mayes' 47 yard strike to Casey.

LB Mark Walker Fumble Return
"It was a great team win,"  Walker said.  "Our coaches focused on us being consistent, and that's what we did.  I'm definitely getting more comfortable out there, getting looser, just trying to be more disciplined and make less mistakes."

"Mark's doing a great job," Coen said.  "He's the spark we didn't have earlier in the season.  He's kind of a lightning rod on defense."

Lehigh would have four turnovers forced on the afternoon, including an interception at the end of the first half by senior DB Quentin Jones to thrwart a key Bison drive.

"Where have they been all year?"  Coen joked afterwards.  "That was great, though.  Offense, defense, special teams, they were all a part of this win.  The kids really took to the plan we had on offense and defense.  And I'm pleased with how our defense is growing."

With the victory, Lehigh faces a Holy Cross team that went to the Bronx and pulverized Fordham, 42-20, during their homecoming.

Swarming Lehigh Defense
"I'm very excited," Walker said.  "We're still in this thing.  As bad as we've played on defense all year, we still have a chance to turn things around and make this into a good story."

"We're all in this together," Bragalone said.  "It's do-or-die at this point.  That was our motto going into this week, and it's going to be that the rest of the year."

"We'll take them one at a time," Andy said.  "It should be a lot of fun."

Comments

Anonymous said…
Great effort, always in control of the game with the fast start. Yes, the big W with BU held under 400 yards and 30 points... A much, much better defensive show, best of the year so far. HC will be a much tougher offense to face however. Dom his usual monster self. An absolutely amazing athlete.

Chuck, kudos on that nice shoutout by the two Matts on the radio today. It pays to tweet. So what were you wearing at your house today watching the game? LOL.
Anonymous said…
and how ignorant of me to not mention Mr. Troy Pelletier and his incredible receiving record set today. He and Dom are perhaps the greatest 1-2 same team offensive weapons in Patriot League history. Certainly the greatest in LU history.

Popular posts from this blog

Nick Shafnisky Is Pushing Hard to Get To Play at the Next Level in Football

"Don't take anything for granted, just keep pushing."
Those are the words of QB Nick Shafnisky, told to The Whitehall-Coplay Press all the way back in 2013, about his preparation as a high school athlete.
And they seem to summarize the Whitehall, PA native perfectly, then as now.
Dubbed the "Male Athlete of the Year" by that publication, the article goes on about Shaf's many exploits at Whitehall high school - leading the Zephyr football team to a co-Lehigh Valley Conference title, becoming the first player ever in that conference to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards, and earning the league's co-MVP award as well.
He also was a member of the Zephyrs playoff basketball team, and for good measure also helped set a record for the 4x100 relay team as well.
At Whitehall, and at Lehigh, coaches pushed him, but it was his own hard work that helped make him the best athlete he could be.
This weekend, Shaf, like every eligible college football player, will be …

#TheRivalry Flashback: November 21st, 1987: Lehigh 17, Lafayette 10

Since becoming an undergrad at Lehigh back in the late 1980s, I first heard about the historic nature of the football team and "The Rivalry" through the stories that fellow students would share.

I did not attend the final meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette at Taylor Stadium, which was the final time a football game would be played there.

Those that did attend said that was that it was cold.

"I remember it being one of the coldest games ever," Mark Redmann recollected, "with strong Northwesterly winds and the temperature hovering around 20.  By the end of the game, the stands were half empty because most of the fans just couldn't take the cold.

"Fortunately, several of my fraternity brothers snuck in flasks to help fend off the chill."

Dominick Bragalone Goes Into Monster Mode As Lehigh Is One Win Away From Title

It has been a most unusual season for Lehigh.

Starting the year off at 0-5 and getting swept in their out-of-conference schedule, the Mountain Hawks were in danger of having their season go off the rails.

But two things have come together over the last five football games that have put Lehigh on the brink of back-to-back championships.

The first is the late blooming of the Lehigh defense, which kept battling every week since the low point of the September 30th loss to Wagner to do the job in four of their five Patriot League conference games. 

The second is the development of junior RB Dominick Bragalone into a bellcow running back, a back who has to be in the conversation for Patriot League offensive player of the year.

In five Patriot League games, Bragalone has run for 863 yards in 5 games, rushing for 11 touchdowns and adding two more receiving touchdowns as well. 

The South Williamsport, PA native certainly wasn't unknown before this week - after all, as a freshman and a sop…