Archive For November 19, 2016
In the most-played college football Rivalry, there was a mild concern of complacency on the Lehigh side.
Would they be able to manage the emotions of the Rivalry after a bye week? Would they come out flat, and let 2-8 Lafayette take away their chance at an outright Patriot League championship, an undefeated Patriot League record, and a 9-2 regular season mark?
The Mountain Hawks proved resoundingly that fans needn’t have worried.
Lehigh rolled to a 17-0 lead before Lafayette connected on a big pass play, then kept the foot on the gas to get to a 45-7 lead before starting to put in the second stringers.
It was pretty telling that the biggest outpouring of emotion during the game happened when Lehigh’s marching band, the Marching 97, marched off Lafayette’s pep band after they went over on their time to play. It was that sort of day for a joyous Lehigh victory.
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Thought I’d put together this multimedia “presentation” of all the seniors that will be playing in #Rivalry152 tomorrow. All the content here, pictures, videos, etc. are mostly courtesy of LehighSports.com, The Morning Call, Lehigh Valley Live, and The Brown and White.
If nothing else it will go you something to do while waiting for tomorrow’s game.
We break down #Rivalry152 – and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.
When you take away The Rivalry, when you take away the emotions, when you take away the craziness, the energy – what do we have? When you look at the Xs and Os, what do you have?
Certainly, this game, like every Rivalry game, will be dictated and informed by emotion. You can count on the fact, as a Lehigh fan, that Lafayette will play out of their minds. For their seniors, it is guaranteed to be their last game played together as a team. For them, there is no practicing on Thanksgiving.
Countless football teams have taken this “300” mentality and turned it into wins. Quarterbacks that used to struggle to not get intercepted suddenly become the second coming of QB Tom Brady. Linebackers that didn’t wrap up their tackles before suddenly become LB Mike Singletary. It can happen to Lehigh. Don’t think that it can’t.
That shouldn’t stop us, though, from looking over the Leopards and seeing what they’re all about. They will put together a gameplan to come away with victory. It’s up to the Mountain Hawks to keep that from happening.
It is an easy narrative to point at the 150th meeting of The Rivalry as the turnaround for the Lehigh football program, where the Mountain Hawks got together after that bitter, bitter loss and decided that enough was enough, and that they were going to not allow their team to be a cellar-dweller.
In a world that is rocked by the division of ugly elections and the blowing up of the political order, the business of beating Lafayette in the 152nd meeting of The Rivalry offers a rare sliver of personal unity among the people of Lehigh in an otherwise divided country.
The short version of the tale of the football Rivalry between Lehigh and Lafyette is simple: It’s the most-played college football Rivalry in the world. It’s united fans of Brown and Maroon through a grand total of 34 Presidential elections, some of them bitterly divisive, others not.
The current tally of games sits at 151, and the game this weekend, the 152nd, will be played in Easton. It’s been waged every year, with only one interruption since 1884.
And the two schools, in competition in pretty much everything since the founding of Lafayette (1826) and Lehigh (1865), eventually coalesced around football as the main driver of The Rivalry between them.
I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life being around The Rivalry. I’ve studied it, blogged about it, and even written a book about it. It’s something you ought to see once in your life, if you can, because it’s unique, it exudes its own special energy, and it has an emotion and spectacle that many bowl games would dream to have.
The world has changed, and football has changed, a lot since 1884. What hasn’t changed, I think, is the weird and particular chemistry that seems to happen when these two teams get together for a football game. To call it a big tailgate party doesn’t really describe it. To call it schoolyard intensity doesn’t do it justice. To call it a “bowl game” doesn’t really capture it either. It’s just The Rivalry. It’s all of those things, and more.
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“A special feature of Saturday’s game will be the press service for a special wire from the sidelines to the press box with will provide good service to newspaper men covering the game,” The Brown and White said in regards to the 50th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette that was to take place on Saturday, November 25th, 1916.
“With the co-operation of the Western Union Company, this scheme has been worked out: The details of various plays will be given to an operator who will send them from a table placed on the sidelines over the wire to the press box. The operator in the stand will receive them and they will be called to the press representative through a megaphone. One Lafayette and one Lehigh man will give the plays to the field operator – the man who carries the ball, the man who makes the tackle, fumbles, penalties, and every detail of the game will go over the wire. All of this will be done so quickly that the press will have every play complete before the next play is begun.”
“This service is not surpassed on any field in the country,” The Lafayette also noted. “As far as is known, only one other, Franklin Field, uses this system. By far the majority let the newspaper men do the best they can by themselves.”
In the 50th game of The Rivalry, technology was then a big part of the story. The reporters in the press box, including both student newspapers, would be one of the rare few that would get a play-by-play call of a college football game.
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Lehigh’s bowl game comes next weekend, of course, as they take on Lafayette in the 152nd meeting of The Rivarly in Easton. After that bowl game, though, comes the FCS playoffs, and until the FCS Playoff Bracket is announced on Sunday at 11:00 AM after the Lafayette game, we don’t know where, or when, Lehigh will play their playoff game.
Don’t fret, football fans. LFN is here with a warm cup of chicken noodle soup, a nice grilled cheese sandwich with the crusts cut off, and a schedule, complete with links, involving the most important FCS games on the schedule that will impact Lehigh’s postseason schedule the most.
Sit back. Enjoy your soup. LFN’s here to help you for this Saturday.
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For us Patriot League diehards, we know what the FCS playoffs are all about. We know who’s in line for the autobid, we know who the No. 1 teams are, and we have a pretty good idea about who can get in, and why.
But you, dear Reader, might not be as dialed into the FCS playoff scene as the rest of us. You know that Lehigh will be practicing on Thanksgiving, and will be playing a football game after the 152nd meeting on the gridiron between Lehigh and Lafayette.
In the span of one blog post, let me tell you, new or old Lehigh fan, what you need to look for in regards to the FCS playoffs.
When Lehigh players, coaches and fans went to bed on Friday night, they probably had visions of the Mountain Hawks’ powerful offense attacking, and overwhelming, Bucknell to coast to a share of a Patriot League Championship and the conference’s FCS Playoff bid.
About ten minutes into the game, the 7,049 fans in attendance had probably figured out that if Lehigh was going to win a championship, it wasn’t going to be won like that.
It was going to have to be earned. It was going to have to be grabbed from Bucknell, smashing them in the mouth the same way they were smashing us.
It cannot be emphasized enough how Lehigh had to earn every single inch of this Patriot League victory, how not easy this win really was.
How the Mountain Hawks fell behind, clawed and scratched back to get the lead. How they had to stop the Bison stampede at key spots, get crucial turnovers, and fire up critical, difficult field goals by sophomore PK Ed Mish. Even extra points, normally considered automatic, took on new dramatic tension.
The offense got punished on every single play up until the final couple of victory formations. But in the end, it was not only a victory, but a victory of the most beautiful, rare sort – the type of win that officially buries the past.
“Sometimes the hardest ones are the ones you enjoy the most,” Coen said. “When you’re winning a championship, it should be hard. Bucknell made it hard on us today, but we’re the ones with the trophy and I can’t be more proud of a group of guys than I am of these guys.”
Bucknell hardly made it easy.
The Bison jumped out to a 7-0 lead, and made the lead 13-7 on the backs of touchdowns by RB Joey DeFloria and RB Chad Freshnock.
With a chance to build on their lead, though, Lehigh’s defense stopped Bucknell again, and again, and again.
The Lehigh Mountain Hawk defense, led by heroic performances by senior LB Colton Caslow (11 tackles) and senior LB Pierce Ripanti (10 tackles), forced two turnovers that became a field goal by sophomore PK Ed Mish and a critical stop on Lehigh’s doorstep that preserved Lehigh’s Patriot League Championship.
It was a fitting place, in a fitting game, for Lehigh to take this elusive Patriot League championship and to allow Lehigh to finally crash an FCS Playoff party they had been denied five years ago. They overturned their loss to Lafayette here in 2013. They overturned their 4th-and-5 at Colgate last year by a sophomore CB Donavon Harris interception that preserved the slender 7 point lead.
It was tough as hell, but Lehigh got their, um, stuff together, and won the damn championship.
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