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Archive For The “Rivalry” Category

Game Preview, #Rivalry150, Yankee Stadium, 11/22/2014

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Game Preview, #Rivalry150, Yankee Stadium, 11/22/2014

I know it’s been several years in the making.  I know we are almost at the eve of the biggest edition of the Lehigh/Lafayette Rivalry yet, the one in Yankee Stadium, the 150th meeting, the one I’ve been waiting for years to arrive.

Yet it’s one play, one play, that I keep thinking about in the run-up to this game.

Bubble screen.

I keep seeing that bubble screen in the 149th meeting of Lehigh and Lafayette, the one that put the game out of reach, the one that turned Lehigh’s bid for a championship last season become one that fell just short of a championship.

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LFN Look Back: Chance At the Postseason On The Line in ’77

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LFN Look Back: Chance At the Postseason On The Line in ’77

The latest disco music was available right off campus at “Records and Things”.  A young Phillies pitcher named Steve Carlton wins his second Cy Young Award.  Debbie Boone‘s “You Light Up My Life” topped the charts, spending 10 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard .  Rocky was still in theaters.  Billy Joel would tour Bethlehem and the valley, perhaps setting the stage for his later hit Allentown.

In local news in 1977, Lehigh was also in the running for an invitation to the football postseason.

Coming into the 113th meeting between the Leopards and Engineers, as they were commonly known at the time, never before had been so much on the line for Lehigh.  In front of an expected sellout crowd of 18,000 people, a win would in all probablility give them the Lambert Cup, given to the best team in the East, and an invitation to the Division II playoffs.

But a loss to the team that beat them last year would see all of Lehigh’s opportunities fade away, the chance to qualify for the eight-team postseason playoff and championship Bowls, the opportunity to reverse last year’s humbling loss to the Leopards.

It was win, and get the hardware, and a chance to compete for the championship.  Lose, and sit at home, wondering what could have been.
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LFN Look Back: Paul Dashiell Helps Deliver Lehigh A "State Championship" in 1889

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LFN Look Back: Paul Dashiell Helps Deliver Lehigh A "State Championship" in 1889
Paul Dashiell

“A silver cup has been offered by Mr. R. P. Linderman, Lehigh ‘84, as a trophy of the foot-ball championship of Pennsylvania,” the Lehigh Burr reported in 1889.  “Designs for the cup have not yet been prepared but it will be very handsome, of massive silver, while special care will be taken to secure a design thoroughly artistic and appropriate, and the cup will be fully equal to any college trophy of the kind ever offered.  The [articles and conditions drawn up for the Championship] is not intended to form a foot-ball league, such a thing being deemed unnecessary, but to provide such general regulations as will fairly determine the state championship.”

The idea of Lehigh, Lafayette and Penn competing for the “state championship” has as its origins the student newspapers, who had started tallying the records of the games between each other in the hopes of crowning a mythical “champion of Pennsylvania”.

In 1888, Lehigh and Lafayette played each other twice, and played Penn once apiece in Philadelphia.

But the final records of Lehigh (2-1), Penn (2-1) and Lafayette (1-2) made it inconclusive as to who the state champion really was.

In 1889, with interest high in some sort of champions to be crowned, all three schools made an attempt to start a true “Championship of Pennsylvania”, complete with its own trophy.  It was was founded in part to broaden the interest in football at both Lehigh and Lafayette, to be sure, but it also may have been a way to lock in Penn to playing return games in the Lehigh Valley, as Penn had already cancelled return games against both Lehigh and Lafayette in the past.

It made for a thrilling season, and one that further intensified the already-fierce Rivalry.
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LFN Look Back: How Lehigh Boosters Helped Beat Lafayette In 1902

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LFN Look Back: How Lehigh Boosters Helped Beat Lafayette In 1902

Only one football coach ever led both Lehigh and Lafayette to victories in the Rivalry.

In 1898, suffering through Parke Davis‘ final season, the head coach that had led Lafayette to the heights of natonal prominence brought in four different coaches to find a way to beat Lehigh in their second meeting at the end of the season.

One of those great football minds Davis brought in was Dr. Sylvanus P. Newton, a former Penn football player, Phi Beta Kappa scholar and expert football strategist.

Dr. Newton played a critical role for Lafayette in a slushy ice bowl in 1898, using the talents of their kicker, Ed Bray, and an ingenious way to deliver free kicks.

“Captain Best, the holder, and Bray, the kicker, scraped away the four inches of slush and snow so the ball could be placed on the ground for an attempt,” the book Legends of Lehigh/Lafayette tells us.  “The visibility [on the 35 yard field goal] was so poor that the crowd at first was silent, not knowing exactly what had happened.  Several minutes later, the word spread that the kick was good, and the crowd exploded for the amazing feat (or foot) of Ed Bray”.

The use of Newton’s placement kick – his own invention – “made such an impression upon those in charge at Lafayette that he was invited to be their coach the following fall,” Francis March wrote in the book Athletics at Lafayette College.
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LFN Look Back: Lambert Cup Competition Adds Sizzle To Rivalry

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LFN Look Back: Lambert Cup Competition Adds Sizzle To Rivalry
Brown and White, 1957

Everyone had heard of the Lambert Trophy on the campuses of Lehigh and Lafayette.

Awarded to the most outstanding college football team in the East, it was routinely won by some of the legendary big-school programs of the time.  Jock Sutherland‘s Pitt teams and Earl “Red” Blaik‘s Army teams dominated the Lambert Trophy balloting in the first couple of decades of the award.

In 1957 the Lamberts and their board members, including Kermit Roosevelt, son of Teddy Roosevelt,  decided that there ought to be a Lambert Trophy for smaller schools in the

East as well – schools that played against “major colleges”, but didn’t play the majority

of their games against those schools.

It gave an extra jolt of excitement to the Rivalry.
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LFN Look Back: Lambert Cup Competition Adds Sizzle To Rivalry

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LFN Look Back: Lambert Cup Competition Adds Sizzle To Rivalry
Brown and White, 1957

Everyone had heard of the Lambert Trophy on the campuses of Lehigh and Lafayette.

Awarded to the most outstanding college football team in the East, it was routinely won by some of the legendary big-school programs of the time.  Jock Sutherland‘s Pitt teams and Earl “Red” Blaik‘s Army teams dominated the Lambert Trophy balloting in the first couple of decades of the award.

In 1957 the Lamberts and their board members, including Kermit Roosevelt, son of Teddy Roosevelt,  decided that there ought to be a Lambert Trophy for smaller schools in the

East as well – schools that played against “major colleges”, but didn’t play the majority

of their games against those schools.

It gave an extra jolt of excitement to the Rivalry.
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LFN Look Back: Lehigh’s Youngest Head Football Coach Scores Big Rivalry Win In Undefeated Season

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LFN Look Back: Lehigh’s Youngest Head Football Coach Scores Big Rivalry Win In Undefeated Season
Bill Leckonby, The Hill School

“72 aspirants greeted Lehigh’s new football coach, Bill Leckonby, on the first day of the six-week spring training session,” a Lehigh Alumni Bulletin inauspicously announced in the spring of 1945.

It was reflection as to how low the Brown and White football team had sunk that the announcement didn’t come with more fanfare.

After all, Lehigh was in the middle of a nine-year stretch where they had only been able to muster one tie in the span of eleven contests with their bitter Rivals.

Six times they were shut out.  Only once did they score more than 7 points against the Leopards.

It probably didn’t register that hiring of the former St. Lawrence University star, and former pro football player for the AAFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers, only a few years removed from military service in World War II, would forever change the direction of Lehigh athletics.

Few probably realized at the time that the inauspicious announcement would lead not only to one of the greatest Lehigh head football coaching careers of all time, but also would raise the Brown and White to a level of Eastern football supremacy among its peer colleges, as well as a spokesman for a different level of football, separate from the largest football schools like Alabama or Penn State.
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LFN Look Back: A Goal Line Stand Brings Victory in Easton in 2010

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LFN Look Back: A Goal Line Stand Brings Victory in Easton in 2010
Express-Times File Photo, Lehigh 20, Lafayette 13, 2010

It was destined to be a day of defense, and any number of hard-hitting inside linebackers could have been the MVP of the 146th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette.

Lehigh’s defense was on the field thirty-six minutes, and never let a tough Lafayette run game wear them down.

Almost right out of the gates, Lehigh’s defense seemed to want to put their mark on this game.

The first three defensive plays featured three straight tackles by senior LB Al Pierce, pounding Lafayette’s RB Alan Elder and hurrying QB Ryan O’Neil into throwing the ball out of play.

And it only got better from there.
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LFN Look Back: Rivalry Narrowly Avoids Suspension During The "Great War", 1917-1918

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LFN Look Back: Rivalry Narrowly Avoids Suspension During The "Great War", 1917-1918

It didn’t initially seem conceivable that war in Europe would affect the daily lives of American boys and men playing college football in Pennsylvania.

Before World War I broke out, or the Great War as it was then called, President Woodrow Wilson pursued a strict policy of neutrality in regards to the trench battles in Belgium and France, echoing popular opinion.

But when World War became inevitable, it naturally affected the campuses of Lafayette and Lehigh in the seasons of 1917 and 1918.

Through the seriousness of war, the Rivalry continued where other college football seasons were halted, complete with much of the same pageantry.

In tough times, the Rivalry provided a much-needed escape though the seriousness of the times.
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1912: Lehigh Climbs The Summit For Their First Rivalry Win In Four Years

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1912: Lehigh Climbs The Summit For Their First Rivalry Win In Four Years

Going into the 1912 season, the Rivalry was at a point when Lafayette was a dominant force over the Brown and White.

In an era where Princeton, Yale, and the Carlisle Indian School all competed for the top, Lafayette was right there alongside the top teams in the nation.

And soon, Lehigh would be in the conversation once again as well.

In 1911, Lehigh announced their seriousness to vault back into contention by signing four key transfers, including a future Brown and White hall-of-fame quarterback, QB Pat Pazzetti, from Wesleyan.

“The Pennsylvania college is pulling strongly for a record-breaking football team this year – hoping to put one on their old rival, Lafayette – and is doing all in its power to get the athletes in the institution,” The Lafayette reported.
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