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Archive For September 20, 2016

Lehigh 49, Penn 28 Postgame Thoughts: Both Sides Of Anthem Protests Need To Abandon Empty Gestures And Do Something Real

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Lehigh 49, Penn 28 Postgame Thoughts: Both Sides Of Anthem Protests Need To Abandon Empty Gestures And Do Something Real

(Photo Credit: Thomas Munson/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

The firestorm made its way to Franklin Field.

Few football fans may noticed it as the game was about to start, including myself.  I wasn’t focused on the cheerleading team during the national anthem, nor was anyone else that I confer with – I was a bit more preoccupied whether Lehigh was going to open the season 0-3.

But sometime on Monday, The Daily Pennsylvanian published a short piece detailing the planned protest event, done by Alexus Bazen and Deena Char.

It is the same act that 49ers backup QB Colin Kaepernick and many, many other NFL players have performed during the national anthem during the preseason and first weeks of the season – kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem, and raising a fist.  It’s an act meant to inflame and to get them noticed, and it did.

Why, though?

The “why” can and should be asked on both sides of the protest, those that find solidarity with it and those that are angered by it.

Let’s talk about it.
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With 0.3 Left In First Half, Lehigh Ties Game, Then Never Looks Back, Beats Penn 49-28

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With 0.3 Left In First Half, Lehigh Ties Game, Then Never Looks Back, Beats Penn 49-28
(Photo Credits: Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Athletics)

Penn QB Alek Torgerson and the Penn offense had torn through the Lehigh defense like a hot knife through butter.  Again.

Nearing the end of the first half, the Huntington Beach, CA native lined up on a 4th and 1 play in the Lehigh red zone.  Faking the handoff to RB Tre Solomon, he instead took it himself, running through an enormous hole on the left side of the line for a 8 yard touchdown run.
The touchdown and extra point put Penn back ahead, 28-21, but with 1:14 left, and three timeouts, it wasn’t a question whether Lehigh was going to try to drive the length of the field to tie up the game, or at least try to cut the deficit a little.  Head coach Andy Coen was going to try.  Definitely.
So the experienced senior QB Nick Shafnisky took the field, knowing what needed to be done – the same thing that Lehigh’s offense had already done three times in the same half – drive the length of the field and make something happen.
But that was just it; the fans were in the stands, doubting.  They had seen this Lehigh team twice this year already, on the brink of turning things around, but coming up short.  All this Lehigh team needed was a stop against Monmouth, they said.  Nope.  All the Mountain Hawks needed was to convert that 4th down and 10 against Villanova, they said.  They got eight and a half yards.  
They had seen this last season, too.  Lehigh had the ball first and goal against Colgate, ready to tie the game near the end of a game that would have given them a chance at a Patriot League championship.  On 4th down, a few yards from the goalline, the pass would be batted down.  The Raiders won, clinching at least a share of the Patriot League championship.
Why should this critical drive be any different?  Why wouldn’t it also be a dollar short, like we had seen before?
The funny thing is, it wouldn’t be a dollar short, a stop short, a yard short, a second short.  It would get exactly the right number of yards and, with 0.3 seconds left, either a touchdown or nothing the result, the Lehigh offense did not end up getting stopped short, and in so doing seemed to do a lot more than simply tie the game.

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How Will I Watch Lehigh/Penn tonight?

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How Will I Watch Lehigh/Penn tonight?

Not going to the game in North Philadelphia, and you want to know how to catch tonight’s game?

Never fear.  LFN’s here.

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Lehigh At Penn Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Can Lehigh Win At Franklin Field?

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Lehigh At Penn Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Can Lehigh Win At Franklin Field?

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

It sometimes is tough for coaches and media types alike to preview teams that haven’t played a single down, and with the volume of Ivy League opponents Lehigh and other members of the Patriot League face, the Mountain Hawks get more than their fair share.

Last season, much was made of the fact that head coach Ray Priore and a huge hunk of brand-new staff were competing together in their very first college football game together, a fact that unquestionably helped Lehigh out in a 42-21 win over the Quakers.

This year, though, to some degree the tables are turned.

With a full year under their belts – and an Ivy League championship year, at that – the Quakers will be not at all like the inexperienced bunch that Lehigh played last year.  They’ve had one year in the system, one year knowing the expectations, one year going through the drills.

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Lehigh At Penn Narrative Street: The Franklin Field Hex

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Lehigh At Penn Narrative Street: The Franklin Field Hex

Saturday’s game is a personal landmark for head coach Andy Coen: it marks the first time he’s coached a Lehigh team at Penn since he was hired there from Al Bagnoli‘s staff back in December of 2005.

He’ll be facing off against another former Bagnoli assistant coach, Ray Priore, who was a defensive coordinator at Penn when Andy was an offensive coordinator there.

Franklin Field, then, becomes one of the big #NarrativeStreet storylines going into Saturday, and for Lehigh, not a good reason.

Since 1895, when the enormous field was built in downtown Philadelphia, Lehigh has won exactly four times at the iconic venue, and the overall Brown and White record there is 4-28.  Along the way, among the many losses by Lehigh there, came one recent one in particular that snapped a long Lehigh regular-season winning streak.
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Lehigh At Penn Game Preview: "Our Kids Remember", Priore Says, That They "Tattooed Us Real Good"

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Lehigh At Penn Game Preview: "Our Kids Remember", Priore Says, That They "Tattooed Us Real Good"

(Photo Credit: Pat Goodridge/Daily Pennsylvanian)

“[We’re] trying not to over-plan for Lehigh,” Penn head coach Ray Priore said in his first Penn coaches’ teleconference of the year.  “And the kids are very focused.  We got off to last years’ start 1-3, our first loss was to Lehigh, and they tattooed us pretty good up there, so our kids remember that…

If there was any doubt that the Penn players had somehow forgotten the way they kicked off the Ray Priore era – that they had forgotten that humbling beginning to their Ivy League championship season from last year – any doubt of that was easily erased by the easy way that “so our kids remember that” uttered from Priore’s lips at the press conference.

College football head coaches generally don’t like their opponents lying in wait for them for months upon months upon months.  They prefer to sneak into town competing as lightly-regarded underdogs, preferably playing a “scrappy, fundamental game” (whatever that means), and escaping town with a character-building win and then heading home on the bus.

Head coach Andy Coen and the rest of the Mountain Hawks will definitely not have that luxury heading down to Franklin field this weekend.  They’re going to have a riled-up, laying-in-wait Quaker team that are favored to repeat as Ivy League champions.

“Our kids remember that.”


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My FCS Top 25, 9/13/2016

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My FCS Top 25, 9/13/2016

You didn’t ask for them, but here’s my pick for this week’s FCS Top 25.

Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune

Illinois State kicker Sean Slattery, right, celebrates with quarterback Koty Thelen after scoring the game-winning field goal as Northwestern running back Justin Jackson, left, reacts.  (Nam Y. Yuh/AP)

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Villanova 26, Lehigh 21 Postgame Thoughts: It’s Not How You Start, But How You Finish

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Villanova 26, Lehigh 21 Postgame Thoughts: It’s Not How You Start, But How You Finish

I like winning.Who doesn’t?Admittedly, it is a bit of a selfish impulse on my part.  It is always easier to recap a heroic made-for-TVesque Lehigh win than a loss.  Narratives and nicknames flow like water when games have outcomes like that.N…

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Villanova Wins A Game of Inches, Defeats Lehigh, 26-21

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Villanova Wins A Game of Inches, Defeats Lehigh, 26-21

“It’s a game of inches,” head coach Andy Coen said after the Mountain Hawks had just fallen to nationally-ranked Villanova on a hot, humid, thick September evening.  “I just told these two guys walking across the field here (senior LB Colton Caslow and junior WR Troy Pelletier), it really is a game of inches. We were this close to beating a very good football team.”

Indeed they were, even if, after a disappointing loss last week to Monmouth, many across the nation had written off Lehigh’s chances of an upset of the team ranked No. 19 in the FCS Coaches’ Poll.
Stung from a first half against Monmouth when they failed to score a single point, Lehigh battled hard in the first half and played “outstanding” Coen said, as the Mountain Hawks jumped to a 14-6 lead.  After missing a field goal falling behind 20-14, Lehigh rallied to retake the lead, and after falling behind one last time, the defense forced a stop and handed the ball back to the offense, with a chance to win.
But it came down to one play – converting a challenging 4th and 10, and a big pitch-and-catch that ended up just short of the yardage necessary to keep the drive going.
Last week, it seemed to many fans for it to be nearly impossible for the Mountain Hawks to be able to compete with the No. 19 team in the nation.  Instead, here was Lehigh, inches away, just short of sending the home fans to bed without victory cigars.

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How Will I Watch Lehigh/Villanova Tonight?

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How Will I Watch Lehigh/Villanova Tonight?

Not going to the game at the Main Line, and you want to know how to catch tonight’s game?

Never fear.  LFN’s here.

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