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Archive For September 18, 2015

Game Breakdown, Penn at Lehigh, 9/19/2015

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Game Breakdown, Penn at Lehigh, 9/19/2015

We break down the Penn game – and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

A lot has been made this week of Lehigh facing off against an Ivy team playing in their first game.  It’s a fairly unique feature of FCS and the Patriot League, where Ivy League schools are frequently a part of the out-of-conference menu and the Ivy League teams, who choose to start their football season in mid-September, need some out-of-conference teams to begin the season.

It does certainly pose a challenge in certain respects.  A team playing in their first game is freshest, less injured, and can surprise a team like it can in no other way the rest of the season – there is no game film really to study.  On the other hand, teams playing in their first game are generally also sloppy, and need time to adapt to the speed of football.  It is a double-edged sword.

In his Lehigh head coaching career, Andy Coen has been 5-4 in such games.  Generally, oddly enough, they tend to be a good barometer for the rest of their seasons.

In seven of the nine games, and every game since 2008, a win in this game has equaled a winning season for Lehigh.  A loss has equaled a losing season.

Last season, Lehigh lost a frustrating, heartbreaking game to Yale, 54-43, and finished 3-8 on the year.

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Game Preview: Penn at Lehigh, 9/19/2015

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Game Preview: Penn at Lehigh, 9/19/2015

Some college football opponents, no matter how many games between actual meetings, feel like backyard brawls.

Such is the case with the Penn game this weekend.

On paper, it’s been twelve years since Lehigh has faced off against Penn.  The head coach in that game in 2003, Al Bagnoli, retired just last season, only to “unretire” at Columbia in an effort to turn around the moribund Lion program desperate to distance themselves from the Pete Mangurian error era.

On the surface, it would seem like much has changed – that little would remain from the remnants of that 2003 game in terms of links between the two schools.

But you’d be wrong.

When you look at this upcoming Lehigh and Penn game, you’ll see a lot of faces – old and new – that show that this rivalry – with a little r – is rekindling itself at exactly the right time.
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The Rivalry Is Out in Paperback!

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The Rivalry Is Out in Paperback!

I’m real excited to announce that the book is finally available!The Rivalry takes a look at the early days of the Lehigh/Lafayette football rivalry, and how Lafayette College and Lehigh University were founded, how their athletic departments were creat…

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My FCS Top 25 Vote, Week 2, 2015

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My FCS Top 25 Vote, Week 2, 2015

If you’d like, you can check out my FCS Top 25 vote below.

It’s not often that I promote a team that lost to an FBS squad, never mind promoting a team to No. 1 after such a loss.  But that’s exactly what I did after Jacksonville State came a couple of bold plays away from upsetting Auburn, a team who legitimately is seen as one that could be in the FBS College Football Playoff at the end of the regular season.

It was very compelling TV, even I find myself second-guessing head coach John Graas‘ decision to take a knee and play for overtime instead of taking a shot to win.  It didn’t make sense from my perspective to play for OT in that spot, but… it still was impressive, even in defeat.  The Gamecocks barely eked out Coastal Carolina for the new No. 1 spot to me.

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James Madison’s Onsides Kick Up 31 Can Help Lehigh Have A Successful Season

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James Madison’s Onsides Kick Up 31 Can Help Lehigh Have A Successful Season

When James Madison head coach Everett Withers was asked about attempting an onsides kick against Lehigh while up 31 points, he made the simple observation that the opportunity was there for the taking.

At home, watching the game streamed live to my big TV screen, I won’t lie – I was furious.

After thinking about it a day, though, maybe I should be thanking him.

For coach Withers may not have meant it in this way, but the key to a successful season for Lehigh in 2015 may have been that onsides kick – what it meant, what it showed, and how this football team can take that moment going forward.

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Mountain Hawks Crushed Under James Madison Tidal Wave, 55-17

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Mountain Hawks Crushed Under James Madison Tidal Wave, 55-17

It was still very much a game after the first quarter.

After James Madison took their opening drive and drove 72 yards in 8 plays to go up 7-0, Lehigh responded with a perfectly-executed pass from junior QB Nick Shafnisky to freshman RB Dominic Bragalone over the middle, where the speedy running back from South Williamsport, PA showed a burst of speed, outracing the entire James Madison secondary to tie the game at seven.

They absorbed the Dukes’ first wave of offense, and showed a sign that they might be able to get into a shootout with James Madison.

But in short order, the Dukes offense, pelting the Lehigh defense in waves, proved to be overwhelming.

Buoyed by 334 yards passing by QB Vad Lee, 286 yards rushing by a bevy of backs and a big special teams play converted into a touchdown, the Dukes scored 31 unanswered points in about a 14 minute span in the second quarter to overwhelm the Mountain Hawks.
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Mountain Hawks Crushed Under James Madison Tidal Wave, 55-17

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Mountain Hawks Crushed Under James Madison Tidal Wave, 55-17

It was still very much a game after the first quarter.

After James Madison took their opening drive and drove 72 yards in 8 plays to go up 7-0, Lehigh responded with a perfectly-executed pass from junior QB Nick Shafnisky to freshman RB Dominic Bragalone over the middle, where the speedy running back from South Williamsport, PA showed a burst of speed, outracing the entire James Madison secondary to tie the game at seven.

They absorbed the Dukes’ first wave of offense, and showed a sign that they might be able to get into a shootout with James Madison.

But in short order, the Dukes offense, pelting the Lehigh defense in waves, proved to be overwhelming.

Buoyed by 334 yards passing by QB Vad Lee, 286 yards rushing by a bevy of backs and a big special teams play converted into a touchdown, the Dukes scored 31 unanswered points in about a 14 minute span in the second quarter to overwhelm the Mountain Hawks.
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How To Catch Lehigh/JMU If You’re Not In Virginia

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How To Catch Lehigh/JMU If You’re Not In Virginia

Short and sweet.  Live video of the game from JMU (including a JMU pregame show) is available here:http://portal.stretchinternet.com/jmu/Everyone’s favorite radio call will be available here from Matt Markus:http://www.espnlv.com/That’s how I’ll b…

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Game Breakdown: Lehigh at James Madison, 9/12/2015

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Game Breakdown: Lehigh at James Madison, 9/12/2015

We break down the James Madison game – and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

This will be the Dukes’ second game of the season, after last week’s shellacking of non-scholarship Morehead State, 56-7.

They never really took their foot off the gas.

The Dukes racked up a school-record 713 yards against the hapless Eagles, including three position players rushing for over 100 yards.  Morehead State only turned over the ball twice, but the frenetic-pace-of-play Dukes still managed to execute 90 plays on offense and probably could have gotten up to 100 plays had they not relented just a little in the 4th quarter.

It’s not enough for Lehigh to hold James Madison to less than 713 yards in order to have a chance.  They’ll need to do more.

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Game Preview, Lehigh at James Madison, 9/12/2015

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Game Preview, Lehigh at James Madison, 9/12/2015

“We told the kids to go in and watch the tape from a year ago,” head coach Andy Coen said in this week’s preview of the James Madison game from The Morning Call.   “We probably should have won the game. We missed three field goals. That was the difference. We had a great opportunity to beat them.”

There was a lot of frustration in last years’ 3-8 season for the Mountain Hawks, but the 27-24 opening weekend loss was probably the second most frustrating.

Let’s be blunt; Lehigh had James Madison on the ropes.

Whether the Dukes were in the middle of a letdown after their 52-7 loss to Maryland the weekend before, whether their talented team wasn’t ready for Lehigh’s best shot, whether the Mountain Hawks played the games of their lives, it didn’t really matter.  With just about 12 minutes left, Lehigh had the ball at midfield, up by 4 on James Madison and the opportunity of opportunities to put the game away.

Two penalties, a punt and 98 James Madison yards later, the Dukes would take the lead and never give it back.
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