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It All Will Come Down To 14 Days Of Being Locked In

After the Bucknell victory, senior OL Zach Duffy said something that cut through the entire 2017 Lehigh football season.

"We have 14 days to stay locked in and do whatever it takes to win another championship," he said to the team.

And it's true. 

It really doesn't matter what happened Week One, Week Five, or even last week.  When this Mountain Hawk team goes to bed, and wakes up again during the next six days, they are in the Patriot League Championship race.  If they win, and stay locked in for the next fourteen days and win two football games, they will win the Patriot League.

It will require being locked in for fourteen days.

Junior RB Dominick Bragalone said in the post-game interview that "We're all in this together.  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."

And watching the Bucknell game, there were signs that this team had indeed started to show signs that things finally, maybe, are coming together in time to win their last two games.

If you take away senior WR Troy Pelletier's "interception" of a hail-Mary pass vs. Wagner, Lehigh hadn't forced more than a single turnover on defense in eight consecutive games this season.  But in a sign that things might be starting to work, the Mountain Hawk defense forced four turnovers in Lewisburg, with junior LB Mark Walker forcing a fumble, recovering that same fumble, and nabbing an interception.

“In football, if you make mistakes, you pay — and in most cases you pay immediately,” Bucknell head coach Joe Susan said after the game. “That’s the frustrating thing. We turn the ball over against a very potent offensive team and we gave them position with the turnover on the kickoff return and the fumble by the quarterback.”

And even more encouraging was seeing how the energy finally seemed to be flowing between all three units - turnovers becoming touchdowns becoming big special teams plays becoming more touchdowns.  For the first time all this season, the electricity seemed to be flowing from everywhere.

And when the electricity did flow, I saw flashes of that team everyone saw in the preseason, feeding off of each other - staying "locked in" - and saw that potential in this team to with their last two regular-season games.

The problem has been sustaining that electricity for four quarters and not having short-circuits.  The Fordham game showed the opposite side of that coin: several fizzled drives ending in turnovers, allowing big hunks of yards on special teams, the defense giving up the game-clinching touchdown run on 3rd down.

And Holy Cross will in no way shape or form make life easy for Lehigh this weekend at Murray Goodman Stadium.  Off a two game winning streak and fresh off a 42-20 gutting of those same Fordham Rams, with senior QB Peter Pujals putting on the purple helmet one last time, there will be no play in the playbook off limits for the Crusaders.  It has the makings of a thrilling, surprising, shootout of a game that may require a defibrillator nearby for fans with delicate constitutions.

If this game were played back in late September, I'd have guessed that the Mountain Hawks would lose.  But whatever it is - the do-or-die attitude, the fact that the team seems to be locking in for this stretch of games - something seems to have clicked with this team.  If it indeed is the case, it might be a very fun final two weeks of the season - and beyond.


Anonymous said…
And who was that starting QB for Holy Cross way back on November 9, 2013 during the last magical Lehigh run? PETER PUJALS. Pujals has been around forever, and will remember that game. He's going to be incredibly dangerous.
Douglas said…
Pujals has indeed been around forever having gotten an extra season for an early injury last year.. I was impressed with this team early on in the season with a close loss at UCONN and knocking off UNH and now Fordham later on in the season with a new coach after somehow they let Gilmore go.. It should be quite the battle for a nationally televised game ( though frankly hard to find since most cable companies don't carry the stations it'll be on).. If Lafayette beats Colgate this Saturday, that will make #153 a game to decide the league title no matter what happens.
Anonymous said…
Cannot and should not even think of Pards at all right now. This Holy Cross team is super dangerous and capable of blowing out the Mt. Hawks if we are not careful. Its by far the best Patriot League offense we will have faced this year, and as noted, they know they are good and can play with anyone in the country at this level. What's going to be interesting is to see if Chuck picks the total score to come in under 100. This is looking to be a shootout for the ages...
jb'74 said…
That HC "by far the best Patriot League offense" scored 7 vs.Lafayette, 7 vs. Colgate and 0 vs. Yale. ???
Anonymous said…
Best besides Lehigh in 2017. Correct. Those strange games are why Tom Gilmore is no longer there in Worcester. Seems to be two separate teams. Anomoly. Assume the high scoring team has returned after last week, with a 5th year, very motivated QB running the show.
Anonymous said…
Battle of PL offensive leaders this weekend. HC had strange spells earlier this year where they couldn't score from the red zone, ie, Exit Gilmore.

LU 497 yds/gm
HC 397 yds/gm.

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