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I was trying to figure out the worst Lehigh/Colgate game I have ever witnessed.

My history goes way back with Lehigh, of course, and I really had to rack my brain.  What loss to Colgate that I had witnessed was worse than this one?  

I wasn't at Andy Kerr Stadium when Lehigh lost 61-28 in 1997 to a Colgate team that would win the Patriot League title - as a matter of fact, I'm fairly certain I didn't even find out about the score of the game until that night on ESPN, since the game wasn't televised where I was living at the time.  The win set a Colgate school record for points scored vs. Lehigh - one that still stands today.  QB Phil Stambaugh and RB Rabih Abdullah, both Lehigh football legends today, fumbled the very first exchange, and the game snowballed from there after Colgate converted the gift into an early 7-0 lead.

I wasn't at Andy Kerr Stadium when Lehigh lost 21-7 in 2007, but I remember following the game on TV, when an injured QB Sedale Threatt was reduced to a wildcat rushing option and backup QB Chris Bokosky struggles against a mighty Colgate defense with 3 interceptions.  "The numbers weren't all bad,"  I said,  "but Lehigh could not overcome five turnovers, a botched FG attempt, 1-for-8 on third down conversions, and 1-for-5 on fourth down conversions. Turnovers. Mental errors. A listless performance. Superstar Colgate RB Jordan Scott didn't need to score any touchdowns the way this team played."

That would put the worst-ever loss to Colgate I had ever witnessed to this point 2018's 48-6 shellacking by the Raiders, a loss which featured the most-ever points by Colgate in Bethlehem.  It was a banner performance by QB Grant Breneman, who predictably roasted Lehigh's defense.  And it was a loss that was pretty much expected by everyone at the time, as Colgate was undefeated (8-0) and had an all-time Patriot League defense featuring DT Nick Wheeler and LB T.J. Holl,.  In contrast, Lehigh had a team in serious competition for its all-time worst at 2-8.  

Even in this game, though, there was one tiny moment of pride for Lehigh - when the Mountain Hawks broke Colgate's defensive streak of 20 consecutive quarters without yielding a touchdown.  "The long streak of first halves of games where Colgate hadn’t given up any touchdowns – eight consecutive – was now broken," I added, looking for silver linings in some very dark clouds.

But this past weekend, a 30-3 drubbing of Lehigh by a winless Colgate team, to me felt worse than all of those losses.

I went through the history.  In every game I witnessed in person, or even took place from my undergraduate years to last Saturday, Lehigh scored a touchdown against Colgate.  

You have to go all the way back to 1979 to find a game where Lehigh didn't do it, a 10-3 game that, all things considered, didn't ultimately end up feeling too bad because the Engineers would recuperate and end up in the I-AA National Championship Game.  Lehigh at the time ran a Wing-T offense under head coach John Whitehead with QB Rich Andres, who got better as the season went along while the defense, led by legendary LB Jim McCormick, hammered opponents.

In that 1979 game, Andres was blitzed early and often, and ended his day 11-of-26 for 156 yards.  

This past Saturday, Lehigh quarterbacks ended 13-of-20 for a grand total of 46 yards.  No, that's not a typo - there's not a "1", "2", nor dare I say a "3" in front of it.  Lehigh's passing attack netted 46 yards.

The numbers don't get any prettier on offense for the Mountain Hawks.  

101 yards total offense.

1 extremely costly interception - on the third play of the game, resulting in the opening score.

Four first downs - which is honestly a bit misleading, since one of them came on the second to last play of the game.  Two of the first downs came on one drive in the first quarter.

It may be the case that there was a lower yardage total or lower offensive totals in other games in the long history between these two schools, but I couldn't find one.

The only way to describe these numbers are "beatdown".  There is no sugarcoating them, no silver lining to be found.  It is just as ugly as can be.

Now it is theoretically possible that Colgate's defense will, when the season is done, be considered one of the best in the Patriot League, an all-time defense.  Maybe, by the end of the season, this will make perfect sense.  But if they are one of Colgate's all-time defenses, last Saturday was the first indication that they are of a historic Raider caliber.  Against Stony Brook and William and Mary, neither team offensive juggernauts, Colgate were outscored 51-10.

I've never seen Lehigh seem so completely mismatched, so listless, and so low on fight as I did this Saturday against a team I consider a rival.

I've seen Lehigh lose to Colgate before.  I've seen Lehigh fall behind to Colgate, and seen Lehigh rally from two-touchdown deficits when all hope seemed lost.  As I pointed out above, Lehigh didn't win every time I watched them, but they almost always fought hard, especially when league play was at stake.  

Even in 2007, with a team that was struggling mightily, the offense drove the length of the field to go up 7-0.  Even in 2018, the team broke through an all-time defense one time to score a touchdown.

Last Saturday, late in the first half, down 24-3, on 4th and inches, Lehigh didn't hesitate to punt.  No lining up to go for it, despite being down to a rival.  Not only did it signal that the staff had no faith in the offense to pick up 4th and inches - it didn't even think a hard count could have been executed in order to get a Colgate player to jump offsides.  Maybe it would have resulted in a turnover on downs, or maybe it might have lit a spark to get the offense going, given the team some confidence, and maybe even have resulted in Lehigh's first touchdown of the fall 2021 season.  What would it have harmed to try?

Lehigh's season is not over.  They can still win football games.  This week they'll have the opportunity to win another college football game against Yale.  Win that game, and the second half of this season might end up different than September.  In a sense, this team is lucky that this past weekend's performance does not have to be the last word about this team or these athletes.

But they will have to crawl up from the mud to do win a football game.  Lehigh is mud right now.  Everyone associated with this program have to think of themselves as one thing - mud - and decide for themselves that they don't want to be thought of historically as mud.

To get out of mud, it requires a lot of determination, purpose, and above all survival.  You have to decide you don't want to sink in the mud, and that you're going to fight like hell out of it.  Fighting out of mud is a lot like fighting to win a football game.  That's what needs to happen in this team - every person involved.  They need to fight to get a victory the same way they might fight to get out of the mud.  It's the only way.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the summary of current events Chuck. I detect your ever so slight bit of optimism.
But this Yale team on Saturday is very good. They beat a decent Holy Cross side and Cornell already. A winning atmosphere so far. So, a great contrast. The ray of hope is that Yale will be overconfident. There are zero expectations for any positive aspects of Lehigh, as it should be. Cannot wait to read the Yale scouting report, that will be really interesting. So, nothing to lose for the Brown and White. Its time to throw conservative offensive play calling and the normal, boring defensive schemes out the window. What the hell do the M-Hawks have to lose?
Anonymous said…
my apologies...Yale lost to HC by 3 points.
Unknown said…
It might be years before we can see a competitive team. They first need to clean house from the top down. After a year without football it is just sickening to come back to this. Take back the scholarships…what a waste.
Anonymous said…
I continue to look on the bright side for a possible win this, not this week...
but Lehigh remains amazingly above Bucknell in the current Sagarin ranking, at 251.

Where are all the Dave Cecchini advocates now?

Chuck, the Lehigh faithful are in need of a really strong drink this weekend.
Anonymous said…
Gilmore really had them fired up coming out of the halftime locker room today..(choke)..

Lehigh (on offense) is U.N.W.A.T.C.H.A.B.L.E

A great Yadush Quote-(and you could literally say this for half the Lehigh plays)

"He's about 10 yards short of the first down"

Anonymous said…
Only question remaining in the Yale game...will they cross the 50 yard line?
Anonymous said…
Sorry, one other question-

Will a Lehigh receiver catch ONE freaking ball to make a play today? Is that even possible?
Anonymous said…
Nice call down 34-0, 3rd and 6, handoff up the middle. Wouldn't want to take a risk.
Anonymous said…
If you're going to punt down 34-0 with no offense, and no hope of a drive, a suggestion-

Punt on every 1st down. If Lehigh had punted on every offensive play this year, I am sure we would have scored at least ONE TD by now in the season. Strong odds of a receiving mistake would favor at least one fumble recovery near the goal line.
Anonymous said…
Should have punted on 4th down near the goal line there at the end. Better odds of scoring via a Yale mistake.

Lining up in the traditional 4 down method of football is obviously not working in 2021.
I am not joking. Try something different for god's sake.
Unknown said…
Fire the Coach and put in the girls soccer team!
Anonymous said…
I was going to suggest the intramural flag football champions. If need the beef for OL, surely you can also find some walk-ons from the weight room who played a little varsity HS football. Or even high level JV.

I know these are quality people on the team, but seriously, they do not appear very good at playing standard FCS level football.

Nothing needs to be said about the coaching staff. Keepin it classy.
Anonymous said…
Here's the real problem...and yes, I feel very sorry for these kids who planned for a happy and fulfilling Lehigh football career.

Bucknell put up 21 points today, and the Leopards 41. To say nothing of some excellent Fordham and Holy Cross squads, and a good Georgetown team.

Lehigh may not score another point in 2021.
Anonymous said…
Three years of the same old story. Way below average QBs, receiver's who can't catch, pretty good RB's, but an offensive line that can't run block or pass block.

Defense was pretty good Gilmore's first two years, but has deteriorated markedly this year. And made worse by an offense that can barely allow the defense a rest.

Bottom line: Lehigh just doesn't have the talent to compete either outside or within the Patriot League. Blame the coaching staff for horrible recruiting.

Unknown said…
The cost of a Lehigh education this year is approximately 72K with room and board. Giving players a full ride when they certainly are not qualified is disgusting. I agree…those recruiting players who belong in D3 schools is total incompetence. They need to give up their scholarships and let some fans play instead.
Anonymous said…
"Let some fans play"...

that was funny, but you may be onto something. Sterrett could make a little money for the LU athletic Dept. If Sterrett was truly innovative, they could try something like this- one fan will be chosen to play for Lehigh the rest of the season. Guy would have to be enrolled at Lehigh however. OK, so have a contest, give the contest winners 2 weeks to get in shape, and put them on the field in their preferred position. Will increase attendance by at least a couple thousand. Couldn't have been more than 3K this weekend in those empty stands.

Choose a fan to play for the brown and white after 2 weeks conditioning, and PUNT on every down starting the next game. Do that for the next several games, and guaranteed to score one TD. If Lehigh is serious about their financial situation, they could make several thousand dollars on that promotion. They are obviously not serious about FCS football, or even academics it seems, but if they can make at least 10K on that promotion, it would be good for the coffers. Seriously. Try it, WTF do you have to lose Mr, Sterett?
Unknown said…
Love the plan! I would even go so far as holding a lottery from season ticket holders and let a different one start every game. Put me in coach!
Anonymous said…
Love the enthusiasm. But you still must enroll and pass a basic physical...maybe a few night classes this term will suffice under the rules. Can you get in playing shape in 2 weeks? Hopefully you can catch the ball over the middle or can play OL. Too late in the season to become the QB and learn the book.
Anonymous said…
LOL. Nice start to the Penn game. If nothing else, the team is unbelievably consistent.

2 dropped passes on the first drive.
Going backward after recovering a fumble.

PUNT on first down dammit. Why isn't Gilmore trying this? PUNT and go for the fumble recovery dammit. They will eventually score a TD off a mistake.
Anonymous said…
Chuck, please stop with your insane LU scoring predictions (16 today)... Just stop.

As we said last week, this team is not likely to score another point in 2021.
The PL schedule begins now and all the teams are far superior.

No one listens to us about playing guys from the campus weight room or some fans.
No one listens to our suggestion to PUNT on 1st down on every drive. Why not? There is far greater chance of falling on a fumble in the end zone.
Anonymous said…
BTW, Penn is a very poor Ivy League football team. Bottom of the table.
Unknown said…
Let’s play one of the local high school teams and hope for a win. It would help with team spirit. My spirit is gone….just a sickening year.
Anonymous said…
I beg you Coach Gilmore, you must try playing some of the intramural flag football champs.
Those guys are fast and they play with heart. Why the hell not???

And why the hell aren't you punting on 1st down??? There is zero chance of the Lehigh offense sustaining one single drive in 2021. None.

The coaching staff is the most pathetic group of losers in FCS football history. Bar none.

The OL has no strength to hold back any lineman. What have these guys been doing for the last 18 months? Did they have good HS carers. They cannot run block, they cannot pass block. They cannot protect any Lehigh QB. They are not strong enough to play FCS football, and they are out of shape.

Why did Alec Beeson leave the program?

There is not a single Lehigh receiver capable of holding onto a pass that isn't perfectly thrown. Did these guys play HS football at a high level? Have they practiced catching an American football in the last 18 months?

The running backs seem to be good citizens, smart, and good people, but they are below average to poor football players who cannot improvise. They are not strong enough.
Anonymous said…
Unknown, its 50/50 whether we could compete with any local varsity HS team. It would have to be JV. I would say we would probably score our fist TD against a local HS JV squad. Its about a 60 percent chance. If we played HS Freshmen on the other hand, the odds are more like 80 percent. Lets try a JV squad.
Anonymous said…
Lehigh's offense is on track at this point to have the single worst single season offensive statistical ratings in FCS history. If Lehigh wants to break 500 yards rushing as a team in 2021, it will take a minor miracle to make that happen, 6 games into the season.

At least we have some interesting all time FCS team stats shaping up for us. Any stats are good stats I guess...

The Rivalry game in 2021 is going to be really, really ugly.
Anonymous said…
Lehigh is averaging 1.8 points per game, 2/3 through the 2021 season. The lowest point average in modern FCS statistical history. The next closest is Lamar, at 5.7 points per game, a relative juggernaut. The PATHETIC Dave Cecchini coached Bucknell Bison are ahead of Lehigh. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so pathetic.

I challenge someone to locate a team lower in scoring average in the last 40 years of 1-AA or FCS football at the end of a season.

How the hell did Tom Gilmore coach 2 of the to 10 offenses in Patriot League history at Holy Cross? How was that possible? Say it ain't so, Dominick Randolph. Say it ain't so, Peter Pujols.

Anonymous said…
Gilmore coached (as HC) two of the top FIVE offenses in PL history while at Holy Cross.

Anonymous said…
All Credit to the Mtn. Hawks vs. Fordham. First game I didn't tune in, so it figures.
Not even the same team from 2 weeks ago.

Looking more like Gilmore's Holy Cross offenses today.

HOPE for a good Rivalry game.
Anonymous said…
Bucknell game.... Where is the guy who bet that Dave Cecchini would have a better year than Tom Gilmore? LOL. Where R U? Where are all the guys who wanted Cecchini in Bethlehem?

What a HORRIFIC head coach. His career win percentage may be THE worst of any FBS or FCS coach. Makes Tom Gilmore look like Nick Saban.

Poor Bucknell.
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