Archive For The “Dominck Bragalone” Category

Hints, And Only Hints, Of A Championship Lehigh Football Team In Big Loss to UNH, 64-21

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Hints, And Only Hints, Of A Championship Lehigh Football Team In Big Loss to UNH, 64-21

It would be all so easy if football were a video game.

If the players were pixels, with easy-to-read sliders with their statistics on them.

ESCAPABILITY: 72
TOUGHNESS: 91

Then the FCS playoffs would be easy.  You’d plug in the teams, they’d hit each other virtually on the screen, and there would be a result, quantifying the relative strengths and weaknesses of each team.  A representative score would come out, and there would be one side bursting with victory, and the other in agony in defeat.

There would be bitterness, some teeth-gnashing, but at least you’d have figured out that the teams gave it their best shot.

But real life is not a video game.  Sometimes, star players go hunting, and come down with an illness.  It keeps them out of practice, and on the day of the big game, they’re not 100%, or even 75%.  Sometimes, foot injuries do not heal, as much as you wish that they would.

And then a team like Lehigh travels up to New Hampshire, not able to put their absolute best foot forward.

Not that it’s an excuse – injuries, and all sorts of other things, happen during a football season.  New Hampshire exposed what may have actually been weaknesses hiding in plain sight for this Lehigh team, exposing the soft white underbelly of the Mountain Hawks – the ability to stop an elite running game.

But it was heartbreaking to have Lehigh not be able to put their absolute best foot forward, to not be able to go down with two of their four team captains at full strength.

Instead, all that Lehigh fans got to see were tiny glimpses of the team they had gotten to know so well over the last couple of months, sandwiched around a lot of evidence on how much better the Mountain Hawks need to be in order to compete for a national championship.
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Bucknell At Lehigh Narrative Street: All Is Quiet On The Bucknellian Front

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Bucknell At Lehigh Narrative Street: All Is Quiet On The Bucknellian Front

Anyone at all worried that it’s just a wee bit too quiet from Lewisburg?  I am.

The narratives coming out of Bethlehem this week – emphatically, me included – are ones of possible Patriot League championships and how the offense is “clicking” and has been very, very good.

That’s not usually a very good recipe for a big game for the home side, especially since word out of the Bucknell camp is very, very quiet, even though the Bison still are very much alive in the conversation of winning the Patriot League title and making Lehigh sit at home Thanksgiving weekend.

Last week, Bucknell traveled to the No. 9 team in the country, Charleston Southern, and proceeded to put up a very good fight in a game that didn’t affect Bucknell’s title chances one way or another.   Though the final tally was 49-28, Bucs, the Bison didn’t go away quietly against Charleston Southern’s triple-option attack, staying within a touchdown most of the way until the home team pulled away late.

“Our guys played their tails off today and I am proud of them,” Bucknell head coach Joe Susan said afterwards.   “We were able to take advantage of turnovers, but it was frustrating as the score got away from us. Charleston Southern is a very good football team.”

Want to get more worried?  Look at the comments from acting Charleston Southern head coach Chad Staggs, who was in that position after head coach Jamey Chadwell served a one-game suspension.

“I don’t know that we played our best today but you have to give some credit to (Bucknell),” Staggs said. “They came out in the first drive and sort of punched us in the mouth a little. We certainly have to play better, but we won the game.  I thought we matched them physically overall. We will look at the film and see how we played. We have to be more disciplined than we were today. We had way too many penalties today and that’s something we have to correct.”
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Chase Who? Shafnisky, Bragalone Combine for 6 Rushing TDs, Beat Fordham, 58-37

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Chase Who?  Shafnisky, Bragalone Combine for 6 Rushing TDs, Beat Fordham, 58-37

(Photo Credit: Amy Herzog/The Morning Call)

When people think Lehigh football, they rightfully think of a powerful air attack.

After all, the Mountain Hawks boast the top two receivers in all of FCS in regards to receiving yards, junior WR Troy Pelletier and junior WR Gatlin Casey.

What they don’t necessarily think of is a grinding rushing attack, something more out of a triple-option team or perhaps a run-heavy Wing-T team.

Yet in Lehigh’s 58-37 statement win over Fordham, the same Ram team with potential future NFL player RB Chase Edmonds, the main headline wasn’t the aerial show, though there were a few highlight-reel plays there, too.

Instead, the headline became Lehigh’s six rushing touchdowns, three from senior QB Nick Shafnisky and three more from sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone, and 349 yards on the ground.

I looked through the record books last night, and combed through recaps of a lot of football games, and the last time I found that Lehigh scored six rushing touchdowns in a game was in 1971, when FB John “Jack” Rizzo and RB Don Diorio combined for six rushing TDs in a 48-19 win over Lafayette.

That’s some pretty good company.
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QUICK RECAP: Lehigh Explodes Out of the Gate And Runs Over Fordham, 58-37

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QUICK RECAP: Lehigh Explodes Out of the Gate And Runs Over Fordham, 58-37

It was supposed to be RB Chase Edmonds‘ day.

The questions around Lehigh, as ever, surrounded the defense.  Would they be able to slow down Edmonds?  Would he score two touchdowns, or three?  Would they hold the almost-certain-NFL-player to only 200 yards?

In all the talk about Edmonds, people forgot about two pretty good runners on the Lehigh side: senior QB Nick Shafnisky and sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone.

Bragalone, for the second straight week, had another amazing game, getting 192 yards rushing, zero negative rushes, and 3 touchdowns.  Shafnisky ran for 112 yards and added 3 touchdowns of his own.

It would be a game where Lehigh would not need to punt – the first game since Bucknell in 1999 where that was the case.  That’s because they ran over Fordham, 58-37, going up at one point 51-9 before giving up a bunch of late scores.

Next week Lehigh will host Bucknell for the right to clinch an FCS playoff shot, and the chance to do no worse than tie for the Patriot League championship.

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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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Like A Boa Constrictor, Monmouth Squeezes Life out of Lehigh In 23-21 Win

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Like A Boa Constrictor, Monmouth Squeezes Life out of Lehigh In 23-21 Win

Death by boa constrictor does not come quickly.  It comes when the snake puts light pressure on the circulatory system of its prey, seriously disrupting the blood flow and causing the bloodflow system to go haywire, eventually causing cardiac arrest.

That’s a fairly accurate description of how the game flow went in Lehigh’s asphyxiating opening-day loss to Monmouth, 23-21.

With visions of Lehigh’s potent offense in their heads, most of the 4,828 fans in attendance thought they might see the type of offensive show they enjoyed the last time Lehigh played a football game at Murray Goodman stadium, something like the 49-35 win over their bitter Rivals Lafayette, for example.

Instead they saw the Monmouth boa constrictor slowly wrap itself around the Mountain Hawks and squeeze the life away, possession by possession.

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LFN Season Preview: Veteran Offense Should Deliver Even More Excitement In 2016

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LFN Season Preview: Veteran Offense Should Deliver Even More Excitement In 2016

The 2016 Mountain Hawks will be leaning on their offense to carry them in the early going on the season.

That’s because they return eight starters from last year’s squad, which was one of the more prolific offenses in all of FCS.

Looking over the stat sheet from 2015, there’s plenty of athletes carrying over that makes Lehigh Nation drool.  The return of a sophomore that was a 1,000 yard rusher as a freshman.  The return of an experienced quarterback that has started games each of the last three years.  The return of a deep threat receivers that invokes fear in opposing defensive coordinators.

There’s not a lot of drama on the offensive side of the 2016 Lehigh football depth chart.  But there’s a lot that has Lehigh Nation extremely excited about the potential for this year.
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Lehigh Rewrites Recent History And Throws Aside Lafayette In #Rivalry151, 49-35

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Lehigh Rewrites Recent History And Throws Aside Lafayette In #Rivalry151, 49-35

All the Rivalry games are memorable in their own way for everyone in attendance, from the seniors playing in their last game to the kids playing on the grass embankment.

The there will be four plays that will be remembered the most, the four plays that defined this game for Lehigh and really demonstrated how tough this team was in 2015, and how tough they might be in 2016.

Most importantly, though, was the fact that Lehigh finally was able to chuck aside any doubts about winning a big game.

Wins against Lafayette are always important for the many Lehigh fans in the near-16,000 people who attend these games.  But winning this particular game was doubly important for this Lehigh squad that seemed to almost desperately need the win in order to demonstrate to the fans in the Valley who they are, who they were, and where they’re headed.
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Heartbreak in Hamilton As Lehigh Can’t Get Last Five Yards, Fall 49-42 To Colgate

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Heartbreak in Hamilton As Lehigh Can’t Get Last Five Yards, Fall 49-42 To Colgate

Five yards.

With all the offense, with all the touchdowns, with all the passing yards by junior QB Nick Shafnisky, all the rushing yards from freshman RB Dominick Bragalone, all the plays, all the yards of offense gained, and allowed, it came down to five yards.

1st and goal at the five.  A minute to play.  Five yards from the end zone, five yards from the opportunity to come from behind and make the score 49-48, and then to have freshman PK Ed Mish trot out and attempt the game-typing extra point, to tie the score for the seventh time on the afternoon, or possibly try a two-point conversion to get the win.  Five.  Yards.

It came down to four shots from five lousy yards.

The game was a thriller.  A classic.  Both Colgate, who would clinch a share of the Patriot League championship today, and Lehigh, who wouldn’t, were incredibly evenly matched.  Every time Colgate scored, Lehigh responded with a touchdown of their own, never trailing by more than a score, but never leading, either.

It was a street fight down to the last minute.  To the last five yards.  And Colgate won that street fight.  Since they stopped the Mountain Hawks from getting those last five yards, they are now the champs.
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With Title Hopes On The Line, Lehigh Explodes For a 51-38 Win Over Holy Cross

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With Title Hopes On The Line, Lehigh Explodes For a 51-38 Win Over Holy Cross

From the first two plays of the game, the Mountain Hawks seemed like they were going to dictate the terms of the rest of their 2015 season.

It started with a slicing kickoff return from freshman KR Mike Gies, who saw some huge holes and got things started with a 39 yard return.

The very next play freshman QB Brad Mayes, again looking more like a senior than an underclassman, found senior WR Derek Knott who lost his defender on a double move, and then turned on the afterburners for a 61 yard touchdown.

It was that sort of half, and that sort of day for the Mountain Hawks, who put the pedal on the gas and didn’t let up until they had secured a very satisfying victory.
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