Archive For The “Matt McHale” Category
(Photo Credit: Chris Shipley/Special to the Morning Call)
There’s no doubt about the fact that it was a terrific day for Lehigh football on Saturday.
For the only the second time this year, the Mountain Hawks never trailed, and the many questions that surrounded the team after the loss to Bucknell were, in large part, answered.
But I also heard something interesting, too, in several conversations with fans.
It’s the idea that Lehigh’s “losing” to Bucknell was the perfect thing to happen to this team at this time.
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If you went into Murray Goodman Stadium and said you knew exactly what to expect from this Lehigh Mountain Hawks team, you were lying.
Everyone involved with the Mountain Hawks football program had seen, or heard about, the loss to Bucknell.
If they had sharp eyes, too, they saw the former starting quarterback, Brandon Bialkowski, on the sidelines in a jacket, his arm immobilized so his collarbone can heal.
You had to go back a long way to find a Lehigh team with this much uncertainty, with this much at stake, with three games left.
And in this environment, this Mountain Hawk team responded.
The Mountain Hawks would never trail in this game, though the Crusaders would tie the game twice, at 7-7 and 13-13. But then, after filling in permanently after what seemed to be a rib injury to junior QB Matt McHale, freshman QB Nick “Shaf” Shafnisky came into the game and guided Lehigh on three touchdown drives in a convincing 38-20 victory.
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Face it – it was a weird weekend without Lehigh football.
It’s been a while since the Mountain Hawks have had a bye weekend this late in the season, and while Lehigh “disappeared” from the Patriot League title race this weekend, a lot more became clear in the Patriot League title race while they were not playing a football game this Saturday.
Three teams – Colgate, Lafayette, and Lehigh – can guarantee their spot in the playoffs if they win their remaining games. Two others – Holy Cross and Bucknell – need to win, and get help, in order to win the autobid. Only Georgetown has been eliminated from the race officially. (Fordham, at 9-0, is not eligible for the Patriot League’s autobid, but barring a late-season collapse seems well poised for one of FCS’s at-large bit to the playoffs.)
Lehigh reappears this week with a simple goal: win this week, and get to next week. But there’s no margin for error. One loss, and realistically, Lehigh can watch their chances at a Patriot League championship and the FCS playoffs “disappear”.
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Late on Monday night, senior QB Brandon Bialkowski delivered the news that Lehigh fans feared, but also suspected: that he will be gone for the rest of the year with season-ending collarbone surgery.
It appears that the collarbone was broken so badly that he’ll need an iron plate and screws to reconnect it.
The guy we call “BB” got hurt in the game against Bucknell, after leading the Mountain Hawks to a 6-2 record and positioning Lehigh towards another potential Patriot League title.
Thoughts and prayers to him and his family.
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(Photo Credit: LehighSports.com)
The clock has ticked to 18 days left until the Mountain Hawks’ season opener vs. Central Connecticut State.
At No. 18, we look at junior QB Matt McHale as our highlighted Lehigh football athlete today.
(Photo Credit: Lehigh Athletics)
Despite the meetings with the other coaches beforehand, despite the bustling schedule of Media Day, where coaches are shunted around for two straight hours, fielding video spots, and reporter after reporter with digital recorders in hand, by the time I got to Lehigh head coach Andy Coen, any stress from the commotion was not evident anywhere when I talked to him.
Perhaps part of that came due to his incredible success over the past three seasons.
With a 31-6 record in the past three years, two Patriot League Championships, playoff wins against the CAA and Missouri Valley champs, and last year’s 10-1 record, his three last years at Lehigh can be stacked up against anyone’s in the country.
North Dakota State’s Craig Bohl, who downed Lehigh on their way to their first FCS National Championship in 2010, went 37-7 over that time period. The coach of the team they beat twice for the national championship, Sam Houston State’s Willie Fritz, sports a 31-10 record over that period.
Heck, Alabama’s Nick Saban led the Crimson Tide to a 35-5 record over 3 years.
A 30 win record over a 3 year period gives you peace of mind, even if last season ended waiting for an at-large playoff bid that never came.
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While many of us were watching the NCAA Tournament, ripping up our office pools while watching Louisville upend Michigan in the championship, the Lehigh football team was getting better.
“We’re just trying to learn and get better each day,” head coach Andy Coen said in Lehigh’s mid-season spring report. “We’ve got so many young, young players… I think we have a lot of talented players here, but a lot of the guys haven’t had the type of opportunity that they’re getting now.”
“I think this team is lacking experience,” Coen told me, “but I don’t believe we are lacking talent. We have been fortunate over the past three years to have some very talented players and they have kept some other guys off the field.”
As we take a peek at the offense today, we see some of the players that have impressed the coaching staff thus far – and, what has to be top on Lehigh fans’ list of wonder, how the battle for quarterback is shaping up.
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