Archive For The “Colton Caslow” Category
Kids come to play football at Lehigh because they want their games to matter.
Right from the opening drive it didn’t feel like it was going to be Lehigh’s day.
With sophomore QB Brad Mayes in for senior QB Nick Shafnisky, who was unable to start due to an undisclosed illness, a pass that bounced off the hands of senior WR Derek Knott instead bounced into the hands of New Hampshire’s first team all-CAA CB Casey DeAndrade.
Six plays later, the New Hampshire offense converted that turnover into the very first touchdown of the day for the Wildcats, the first of many on a defense that clearly missed senior LB Colton Caslow, who got hurt in the second half against Lafayette last weekend.
Four different New Hampshire players scored a grand total of six rushing touchdowns, two coming from RB Dalton Crossan, two coming from his backup, RB Trevon Bryant, one from the third-string, RB Evan Gray, and one on a scramble from QB Adam Riese.
All in all, the Wildcats racked up 364 yards rushing on the Brown and White, rushing to a 36-7 lead on the Mountain Hawks and coasting to a 64-21 victory. In the ultimate twist of irony, Lehigh got beat in the way they had beaten so many opponents in their nine game regular-season winning streak – with UNH jumping to a big lead and never really taking their foot off the gas.
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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.
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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Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Florida. South Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia.
No, this isn’t a list of Power 5 opponents that are suddenly going to be hosting Lehigh and Holy Cross in football the next few years.
It’s a list of just a few of the many states across the country that will be carrying the TV broadcast of the Lehigh/Holy Cross clash.
It’s going to be airing on something called the American Sports Network, which isn’t a network in the broadcast sense but more of a network in the Internet sense: a network of interconnected stations, some over-the-air broadcasts, some local cable stations, that will be carrying Lehigh football over their airwaves.
If you live in PA, all you need to know is the game is going to air on CSN-Philly, CSN-MidAtlantic+, WHP-2 Harrisburg, WPNT-2 Pittsburgh, or WSWB-2 Wilkes-Barre. If you live somewhere else in the lower 48 states, a full list of broadcast outlets can be found here.
It adds to the tension of what is already a big game this weekend.
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(Photo Credit: Chris Barry/The Brown and White File Photo)
In terms of national recognition, life in the Patriot League isn’t always easy.
Certainly Patriot League players and fans read the preseason magazines about FCS. And last I checked, the youth of America still watch ESPN, and they see some FCS darlings in the FCS Kickoff Classic, like North Dakota State.
They tune into the college football landscape, and they see Eastern Washington upsetting Washington State, Bo Pelini coaching Youngstown State, Albany upsetting Buffalo.
Yes, the national FCS scene has their darlings, and frequently it feels like the Patriot League and their opponents are mere afterthoughts in the world where Big Sky teams are putting up big scores, Sam Houston State is beating all comers, The Citadel is dominating in the South, and the Missouri Valley Football Conference sees almost half its members in the Top 25.
And despite having junior WR Troy Pelletier and junior WR Gatlin Casey sitting at No. 1 and No. 2 in the FCS in receiving,respectively, despite a five game winning streak, and despite their emergence as a top contender for the Patriot League title past the halfway point of the season, Lehigh sits just outside the national Top 25 polls.
Respect in the Patriot League is easy to lose, and hard to earn back – and this Lehigh team seems to know how fragile that is.
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(Photo Credit: Keith Groller/Morning Call)
It felt a lot closer than 14 to 3 at halftime.
Sure, Lehigh had outgained Georgetown 220-64 on offense up until that point. Definitely, the Lehigh defense, which has been playing with a chip on its shoulder for most of the entire season, was playing, as they say, lights-out, and they had just come up with a big defensive stop in the red zone to keep Georgetown from cutting it from 14-7 rather than 14-3.
But a batted ball at the line of scrimmage, alertly grabbed by DE Hoya DE Hunter Kiselick, made it feel like the Mountain Hawks might rue the opportunities they had in the first hald to put away Georgetown.
After coming in for injured senior QB Nick Shafnisky, sophomore QB Brad Mayes jumped right into the fray and finished the scoring drive with a perfect pass over the middle to junior WR Troy Pelletier to make the score 14-3 Lehigh.
But after a drive that went backwards and that interception, it was Georgetown that had momentum going into halftime, and they were getting the ball back as well.
That’s when the Mountain Hawks, who have defined this season so far as being a second half team, put the game away resoundingly.
“I’m pleased with how the kids responded at halftime,” head coach Andy Coen said after the game. “It wasn’t very pretty on the offensive side on the offensive side of the ball in the first half. The staff did a great job, got the kids rallied around, made a couple different turns of the wheel, so to speak, and really got the thing running again.
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At Cooper field in Georgetown, Lehigh jumped to a 14-0 lead and coasted to a 35-3 victory.
After senior QB Nick Shafnisky appeared to go over on his ankle funny, sophomore QB Brad Mayes came in, and shortly after running 12 yards for a first down, found junior WR Gatlin Casey for Lehigh’s second touchdown on the afternoon.
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It honestly felt like a day from another era out there on Saturday – in a good way.
In a world of bitter political debates, supposedly declining college football attendance, alleged tensions between the generations and the ongoing charges increasing collegian apathy, there it was: the official attendance total of the Colgate/Lehigh game of 9,255.
There were a multitude of reasons why people wanted to go see the game. Perhaps it was something good to do with the family on Family Weekend. Maybe it was a concerted effort to get students into the games, and keep them there, with new policies and new promotions. Maybe it was a thumb-your-nose effort at the fans who come for cocktails but don’t go enjoy the game. Maybe it was individuals, all as a unit, wanting to come out and see if this high-flying, record-setting Lehigh football team is for real.
Or maybe it was all of them; I have no idea, but I know it required a whole lot of planning and a huge amount of effort from a whole lot of people, and I’m glad they did.
Because it felt like something special was brewing in Bethlehem – and not just from the team making everyone pay attention to them on Saturday. It was the whole thing – the team, the fans, and the atmosphere. On Saturday, for the first time in a long time, it felt like “it” was back.
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