Archive For October 30, 2017
I got to Jack Coffey Field late.
I knew it was going to be close, getting to the Bronx for the 1:00 PM start. My son was marching in the band for the parade that morning, and nothing was going to keep me from going to that event, completed under a perfect sky and perfect weather shining upon Main Street.
Earlier in the week I made a calculation on whether I could make it to kickoff by leaving as soon as his marching gig was complete. If I left, right as it ended, and didn’t make any stops, and the traffic was just right, it was doable.
So I decided it was a go. I’d be headed to the Bronx on a gorgeous Saturday that felt a lot more like September than November.
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(Photo Credit: Lehigh Athletics)
The ambulance came onto the field for the third time during a Lehigh football game.
On this occasion, it was that senior TE Drew Paulsen was trying to recover an onsides kick for the Mountain Hawks. Down only a field goal, head coach Andy Coen was trying to get the ball back to take advantage of momentum.
But something happened.
On the tackle, he had a head or neck injury, necessitating for the third time this year that an ambulance had to come on to the field for a Lehigh game.
The extremely-loved senior out of Tampa, Florida was carted out on a gurney, and headed to local Presybterian hospital for observation. On the TV broadcast, they showed tears from some of the players on the sidelines.
Lehigh lost to Fordham, 45-35, in an extremely frustrating game where the Mountain Hawks turned over the ball four times, twice in the red zone, and twice setting up Fordham in their red zone. But the injury to Paulsen, and the right leg injury that came up earlier to senior DT Jimmy Mitchell, was the focus after the game. The worries were clearly centered around the two seniors’ well-being.
“It’s unbelievable,” Coen said, Paulsen’s injury clearly very much on his mind. “I’ve been doing this for thirty-something years, and I’ve had three of these in one season.”
Not headed to Fordham this afternoon to catch the Lehigh/Fordham game?
OK. I do sort-of understand. You have kids dressed as Pokemon coming to the house. You’re holed in watching Stranger Things 2, and you simply were binge-watching the series all last night. Your collection of candy corn is running low, and you need to get a refill before tonight.
So how do you catch the game?
Never fear. LFN’s here.
One aspect of the Lehigh game at Fordham that doesn’t get a lot of attention is that
the last time the Mountain Hawks went to the Bronx and came away with a win was in 2011.
Even before RB Chase Edmonds then broke a Patriot League single-game rushing record against Lehigh in their 59-42 win in 2015 – a record he later broke against Lafayette – Lehigh lost a 52-34 shootout in the Bronx in 2013 as well. In the last two games in the Bronx against Fordham, Lehigh has allowed a 50-burger, as they say, two straight games.
“Fordham racked up 630 yards of offense on the Mountain Hawk defense and cracked 50 points on Lehigh’s D, the first time that happened since 2007,” I wrote about that 2013 game. “It wasn’t only Fordham’s third-ever win against the Mountain Hawks – it was also Lehigh’s first regular season road loss since 2010, when Lehigh traveled to New Hampshire and lost 31-10.”
That was only marginally as painful as the 2015 game, which also happened to be the debut of junior QB Brad Mayes after QB Nick Shafnisky came out of the game after a late hit during a 2 point conversion.
Mayes very nearly rallied the Mountain Hawks to make it a one-score game, but a missed FG try ended the dream, cemented be a 75 yard touchdown run by – who else? – Chase Edmonds.
We break down the Fordham game – and we give our fearless prediction below the flip.
A key element to this week’s game is the status of Fordham QB Kevin Anderson and RB Chase Edmonds. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Fordham is a different team with or without one or both of them.
Edmonds was held out in the second half of a blowout loss to Colgate, only eight yards short of the Patriot League all-time rushing record, while Anderson left the Lafayette game with an ankle injury, and hasn’t returned since.
Some speculation exists on the Fordham board that Anderson was suspended for the Georgetown game last week. If it is true that Anderson was suspended, and not hurt, the interesting part of that aspect is that there is historic precedent.
“Eagle-eyed followers of Lehigh Football Nation may have noticed last week that Fordham did not suit up their regular starter, QB Kevin Anderson, versus Georgetown,” I wrote in last year’s preview of the Fordham game. “The official story is that the Boca Raton, Florida native sat out the game due to a “violation of team rules”. No further explanation was given, but judging by the game notes, Anderson is still listed at No. 1 on the depth chart, and every public indication is that it was a one-game suspension. So barring any eleventh-hour revelations, Anderson is almost certain to be the starter this weekend.”
If the official story is that Anderson was suspended for a “violation of team rules” – which, by a incredible coincidence, happened in two consecutive years in the exact weekend of the Georgetown game – it means two things. First, it means that Georgetown is the luckiest team in the Patriot League to miss Kevin Anderson twice. Second, it means that Kevin Anderson is starting on Saturday.
I don’t know if Kevin Anderson and Chase Edmonds will absolutely start on Saturday. But I’m going to write this preview as if they are, because, frankly, I’m convinced they’re starting. Sometimes, things are exactly how they look.
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This was not how it was supposed to be.
Back in March, looking at the schedule, plenty of Lehigh and Fordham fans looked at the schedule and circled October 28th, 2017 as a must-see game.
WR Troy Pelletier? RB Chase Edmonds? Are you kidding me? It might be a battle of nationally-ranked teams! There’s an outside chance ESPN College Football Gameday might show up in New York City! Imagine that!
College Football Gameday did indeed come to New York City this season. But it wasn’t for the matchup on October 28th, 2017.
Now that the date is very close to being upon us, a very different College Football Gameday-free matchup awaits.
Sure, WR Troy Pelletier will be suiting up for Lehigh, and even though he didn’t suit up versus Georgetown this week, it’s anticipated that RB Chase Edmonds will suit up this weekend as well. The game, without question, will be a showcase for some athletes that might very well find themselves playing on Sundays. For that reason, this could be a special game in the Bronx.
But instead of a battle of Top 25 teams, it’s the 2-5 Mountain Hawks taking on the 2-6 Rams.
And yet – there is some bullishness in the Bronx this weekend as well, for despite the disappointing records.
For Lehigh, at 2-0 in the Patriot League, and Fordham, at 1-2 in league play, a Patriot League Championship and an autobid to the FCS Playoffs still remain as a possibility for both teams. It’s perhaps not the matchup that folks expected back in the preseason – but for both talented offenses, there’s still everything to play for.
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Lehigh’s bye week came during a time when Penn State football, already rabid at the best of times, was at peak foaming-at-the-mouth after Happy Valley hosted ESPN College Gameday on Saturday morning and Michigan on Saturday night.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Penn State RB Saquon Barkley has a local connection: he went to Whitehall at the same time a guy called QB Nick Shafnisky was under center. Now, Barkley is the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman with the Nittany Lions after a 263 yard, 3 TD effort against the Wolverines as Penn State coasted to a 42-13 win.
Completing the return to 1986, Notre Dame also went to 6-1 after their own resounding 49-13 win over USC Saturday night as well, surprising in the ease in the way RB Josh Adams carved through the Trojan defense for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns. Oh yeah, Josh Adams’ high school isn’t too far from Barkley’s – he came from Central Bucks South in Warrington, the same high school where Lehigh freshman LB Nate Norris played.
Seeing the success of Barkley and Adams on college football’s biggest Saturday showcase serve as a fresh reminder that Lehigh’s football players frequently come from the same schools that produce some of these massive football talents.
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If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering what to watch when there’s no Lehigh football game to attend or view on a fall weekend.
Fortunately, dear Reader, I’m available to help you answer that question.
From the early morning College Gameday at Happy Valley to Colorado/Washington State “Pac 12 After Dark”, there are a boatload of different opportunities to immerse yourself in the wild, wonderful world of college football.
Every week on College Sports Journal, I compile a list of links of every live internet stream that the NFF College Football Broadcast schedule puts out. But this week, you don’t even need to go there, because everything you’ll need, Patriot League, FCS, or FBS, I’ll have right here.
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(Photo Credit: Harvard Magazine)
Last weekend, Lafayette traveled up to Harvard to play the Crimson up in Cambridge. It was the 19th meeting between the Leopards and the Crimson, a series that started in 1966 and has been a frequent event since the early 1990s.
It was a pretty historic game, too: the 700th football game contested at Harvard Stadium.
In years past, you might have found members of the local Lehigh Valley media making a trip up to Boston to cover the game from an independent Lafayette perspective, and you would have seen a recap online and some postgame quotes from the postgame press conference in there as well, as well as seeing an article or two about the game in the Sunday paper.
This weekend, though, there was nothing.
The recap in The Morning Call was not the great work of Paul Reinhard, who freelances for the paper – they didn’t pay him to go up to Cambridge to take in the game and ask John Garrett about the progress of the team. Instead, someone added a topper sentence to the AP recap of the game – and that was it. Four paragraphs for the online crowd and the Sunday readership.
And on Lehigh Valley Live online, the old Easton Express-Times – nothing. This week, quietly, they dropped their college sports coverage, citing the fact that there wasn’t enough traffic to justify their continued coverage of Lehigh, Lafayette, or Patriot League football.
For Lehigh fans, who still get significant coverage of Mountain Hawks football from Keith Groller of The Morning Call, and yours truly, there’s still a fair amount of online and print content covering Lehigh football.
But looking over at Lafayette, the need for a Lafayette Football Nation has never seemed so acute. And in the general scheme of things – the loss of Lafayette football coverage is actually a much more historic event than it seems.
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I don’t officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25. And my No. 1 and No. 2, James Madison and North Dakota State, amply proved their worth again in tough conference matchups where they ended up victorious.
It wasn’t as easy as the 30-8 final score might indicate, but James Madison finally solved the Villanova defense in the fourth quarter just when the Wildcats were threatening to tie the game. The Dukes’ remarkable winning streak just keeps rolling along – since losing to Colgate in the FCS playoffs in 2015, defending FCS National Champions James Madison has gone 20-1, their only loss coming to a North Carolina team last year that played in a bowl game.
North Dakota State’s 27-24 win, however, against the runner-up in last years’ FCS Championship game, Youngstown State, was a prizefight won in overtime when PK Cam Pedersen booted a 36 yard field goal to beat Bo Pelini’s Penguins’ on the road at the Ice Castle, Stambaugh Stadium. Since November of 2015, Youngstown State has lost exactly two home games – both of them, now, to North Dakota State.