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#Rivalry155: The Last Five Meetings

One of the nice things about having done this for long is that at my fingertips I can summon up the definitive account of the last five meetings of The Rivalry through my game recaps of the time.  Here's a quick summary of the last five times Lehigh faced off against Lafayette in the most important game of the season.  And heck - it's Throwback Thursday somewhere, right?

#Rivalry150: Perspective, Or Lack Thereof, In Lafayette's Huge 37-7 Win at Yankee Stadium

"The potential high point came in Lehigh's only scoring play of the evening, the touchdown scamper by freshman RB Chris Leigh that caused a pent-up Lehigh crowd to finally explode with happiness when his touchdown temporarily made it a two-touchdown game.

"In a game with few highlights, it was the one play that caused everyone in Brown to momentarily be able to experience the joy of the moment.

2"0,000 Lehigh fans rose, finally, with something to cheer about.  Whether they were there for the party, for the ticket stubs, for the selfies, or were there to watch a football game, they were there, united for that one moment, celebrating a big moment - perhaps the only big moment - in the game for Lehigh.  20,000 fans celebrating a play.  That doesn't happen very often at the FCS level.

Even if Lafayette ended up destroying Lehigh 37-7.

Most Lehigh fans, I understand, will be asleep when spring football rolls around.  But the diehards will begin the investment all over again, with hope.  All sign of the SUV tracks of Lafayette RB Ross Scheuerman on Lehigh's defense will have disappeared, even though his name will be forever etched into the history of the Rivalry.

Lehigh Rewrites Recent History And Throws Aside Lafayette In #Rivalry151, 49-35

After losing in heartbreaking fashion to Colgate the prior weekend, there was some concern going into the game that the low of that defeat might bleed over into the big Rivalry game.

"I told them, 'If you win [this] game, you won't even remember what happened at Colgate,'" head coach Andy Coen said. "I'm pretty sure all those seniors would corroborate that today."

After a missed Lafayette field goal attempt, QB Nick Shafnisky would leave no doubt that he would be on everyone's MVP ballot as he would find the end zone again and again.  A 5 yard TD pass to WR Derek Knott, lofted to a place where Derek could leap up and bring it in for the touchdown.  A 5 yard TD pass to sophomore WR Gatlin Casey, where Shaf was flushed out of the pocket and he fired a laser to Casey near the back of the end zone.  A 5 yard Shaf run to the right side, ending in six.  A nine yard TD pop to sophomore WR Troy Pelletier.

But the second play that everyone will be talking about all offseason was a different sort of throw by Shaf.

On one offensive drive, Shafnisky rolled right, and took off with the ball, as he so frequently does.  On one run he ran into Lafayette defensive back CB Matt Smalley, who didn't have solid footing.  Instead of sliding, he simply used his free arm, took Smalley, and threw him to the side, out of bounds.

#Rivalry152: Fate Determined That Lehigh Would Crush The Sweet Dreams Of Their Rival Lafayette, 45-21

It unfolded pretty much exactly as Lehigh fans had secretly expected, and Lafayette fans probably knew, from the deepest part of their hearts, was likely to happen - the Mountain Hawks jumped to an early three-score lead, and never trailed.

Lafayette got the ball first, but fumbled the ball deep in Lehigh territory and an alert Laquan Lambert dove saw the play unfold and reached his arms out, almost as if in a sort-of dream, and recovered the loose ball.

"It's special," Lambert said after the game. "God makes no mistakes, so I just trusted in the process. I have the best teammates in the world, so I'm very thankful. ... It's amazing. I'm surrounded by a bunch of great guys, great teammates and we all have the same common goal."

From there, Lehigh's offense performed as perfectly as one might have expected, Shafnisky completing three different passes to three different receivers, including a 16 yard strike to Pelletier for the first of his two touchdowns on the day.

Down by Double Digits, Halftime Speech Sparks Lehigh's #Rivalry153 Rally As Lehigh Wins 38-31

With the clock winding down at the half, it seemed like all of Lehigh's dreams of the Patriot League and any sort of postseason football was going down the drains at Murray Goodman.

"There was never any panic," head coach Andy Coen said, after heaving an enormous "whew" as he entered the post-game press conference.  "Our coaching staff did a great job making the tweaks they needed to make on both sides of the ball. I really credit the guys I work with and am blessed to work with the people that I have. That's why we win, because we have great people around us. I'm really thrilled for this group of young men."

As satisfying as the half-ending stop was, Lehigh was still down by double digits at halftime, but they had that sliver of momentum going into the locker room.  And that is when, according to sophomore FS Riley O'Neil, junior QB Brad Mayes, and senior WR Gatlin Casey all said that OL Zach Duffy took things over.

"Personally, I think the biggest spark for me and the rest of the team came from the speech Duffy gave at halftime about the seniors - about how this could be their last game, and how we need to go out there, and do it for them," Riley said.  "With that in the back of our minds, that gave us a spark."

"The first half really didn't go as we planned," senior OL Brandon Short said.  "We went back in the locker room, and said we just needed to control what we can control, and take it one play at a time.  We weren't going to score 10 points on one play, so, we did that, and we did our job."

"I told Duff [at halftime], 'I'm hurt,'" Mayes said. "And [after that], I don't think there was a single Lafayette player near me the rest of the game.  That's a credit to those guys, the coaches did a great job of keeping me in the pocket and a great credit to my offensive line, doing an outstanding job up front."

"We were kind of shooting ourselves in the foot," Zach said.  "I told Brad at halftime, you're the best quarterback in this league, and you're going to have the half of your lifetime."

When pressed on what he said at halftime, Zach went into some detail.

"I really just called on the seniors," Duffy said. "I said this weeks ago, a team only goes as far as the senior class. Those guys really stepped up today, taking ownership of it. I really just couldn't be more proud of the team, the resiliency that we've had. Starting off 0-5, a lot of people gave up on us. So this position we were in [at halftime], it was fitting. We were used to being down. It's kind of the story of our season. We really turned it on and I couldn't be more proud of this team."

In the second half, with the exception of a kickoff return for touchdown and a personal foul that negated a huge pass play, Lehigh played a nearly flawless half in all three phases to come back from two 10 point deficits, one at halftime, 24-14, and again at 31-21.

#Rivalry154; Christmas Comes Early for Lehigh As They Convert Gifts Into 34-3 Win over Archrival Lafayette

Rarely do Rivalry games hinge on one singular play, and one singular swing of emotion, but they did this weekend.

It is there where the Christmas Story of the 154th meeting between Lehigh (3-8, 2-4) and Lafayette (3-8, 2-4) was set in motion – from the very first offensive play from scrimmage by the Leopards.

Lehigh came out in a four-man defensive front, with DE Julian Lynn lined up on the right and “Hawk” DE Davis Maxie on the left.  It was a standard four-man rush, with linebackers falling back to cover the short pass, and Lynn beat his man on the inside, attacking QB Sean O’Malley from his blind side.

As Lynn’s oustretched arms made contact with the Leopard QB, the ball squirted out of O’Malley’s grip, falling almost perfectly into the arms of Maxie, who had the ball and forty yards of uninterrupted green in front of him.

RB Dominick Bragalone, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday on this day, will probably be buying his offensive linemen some presents after paving the way for him to run for 95 yards and 3 touchdowns, with Lafayette seemingly making every yard very hard to get.

“I played in a lot of tough games with tough yards, but this is probably one of the toughest,” the South Williamsport, PA native said. “The type of running back I am, I know it’s not going to be easy sometimes. I just try to take it one play at a time, lower my shoulder and run through people. I knew it was going to be tough to run against Lafayette, but the offensive line did an great job helping me get into the end zone three times. Everyone on the offense did their job.”


Anonymous said…
One thing abundantly clear, Lehigh is catching up rapidly on the all time Rivalry record.
The Andy Coen era made huge progress in catching the Pards.

Maybe Chuck can remind us of each LU coach's winning percentage in the Rivalry. Not sure I have seen that.
Anonymous said…
How about discussing something meaningful such as the injury status of Shoup and Monaco?
Anonymous said…
The injury report is never out until his day-of-game breakdown, tomorrow AM.

I like the Rivalry memories and stories.

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