Archive For The “Sunday Word” Category
Going into last weekend, most people thought that Holy Cross might pose a problem for the Mountain Hawks defensively.
The Crusader defense had shut out two opponents, contributing to wins over Lafayette two weeks ago, 42-0, and a CAA team, Albany, 37-0.
How would Lehigh’s offensive line do against Holy Cross’ defensive front?
Once the dust had settled on Saturday, the answer was: “just fine, thanks for asking.”
The Mountain Hawks did an awful lot of things right on offense last week, jumping out to a 41-10 halftime lead, carving out 543 offensive yards and executing 83 offensive plays. But the foundation for that offensive explosion came from a vastly improved performance on the offensive line.
One thing was known going into the game this weekend: Lehigh’s chances at playing for a share of the Patriot League championship were in the hands of others.
Fordham, the undefeated leaders of the Patriot League, were in control of their own destiny. If they won their last three games, they would win the Patriot League, and there was nothing that this young Mountain Hawk team could do about it. At best, they would be second place.
This weekend, Colgate upset the Rams 31-29 in Hamilton, and thus opened the door for a co-championship.
If Lehigh beats Holy Cross this upcoming weekend, travels to Hamilton and beats Colgate, and returns home and beats Lafayette in the 151st meeting of The Rivalry, Lehigh will at least win a share of the Patriot League championship.
That’s something to celebrate.
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I remember my time at Lehigh as a time to define new moments for myself.
It was a time to jettison old nicknames, to break out of the scripts my parents and then-friends had written for me. It was time to write a new script, and a time to break out into a new, better direction. It was a time to step away from the old girlfriends, as hard as that was at times, and start to live in the moment and form new relationships, ones that were not encumbered by what happened before.
I think that’s something that can be applied to the Fordham loss as well, in the context of Lehigh’s 2015 football season.
There are two possible outcomes from this game.
One outcome is that the defeat ends up defining the season, a loss made so frustration by an agonizing combination of bad luck, missed opportunities, and a record-breaking performance by RB Chase Edmonds.
But the other is to jettison that past, and set off on another winning streak to go through the rest of the regular season, and in so doing make this season a great success.
You don’t have to be a militaryphile to love football. But to love football, it helps to have an appreciation for the military.
I remember once, long ago, on this blog I made an incorrect reference and quote in regards to the Vietnam war. Then-head coach Pete Lembo, a pretty good military historian as well as a pretty good college football head coach, wrote me to clarify almost immediately. He was right; I was wrong.
One of the most iconic military personalities was General George S. Patton, the controversial yet beloved World War II soldier that was an amazing figure. He also provided this quote, applicable to both the military and football:
“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”
I pulled out this quote from General Patton because it seems particularly apropos in regards to this Lehigh football team this week.
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In the movie Rudy, Notre Dame head coach Dan Devine gets painted unjustifiably as a bit of a jerk.
His treatment in the movie, I feel, is what prevents Rudy from being a mostly-loved movie from a near-universally loved movie.
Some people will never forgive the moviemakers, for the convenience of drama, for changing the reality of his coaching career.
Yet despite this fact, actor Chelcie Ross manages to deliver one of the iconic halftime locker-room speeches in cinema. You’re not really supposed to like him, as the movie goes, but somehow he manages this great line:
“No one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around.”
It’s great because it is a universal football concept. Bowl-eligibility, conference games, even in playing out a 3-8 season, it doesn’t matter. Nobody wants to play the game of football and get pushed around, ever, but to be pushed around at home? Somewhere, you have to draw a line.
This weekend, Yale pushed us around. At home. There’s no hiding it. They weren’t always pretty doing it – the Bulldogs made a fair number of mistakes in the form of penalties and turnovers. But ultimately, they won the game because they pushed us around.
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I always enjoy making the trip to catch a Princeton game when I can.
Aside from the sentimental attachment that I have to the place, there’s a lot to recommend it as a destination for anyone.
After Lehigh’s 52-26 loss to Princeton, however, the Mountain Hawk people I saw after the game couldn’t wait to get out of there and regroup.
Everything about this early, challenging schedule for the Mountain Hawks seems to have been designed to determine how close Lehigh is at becoming contenders once again. It’s a challenging, strong out-of-conference schedule that doesn’t need an FBS team on it to make it a stern test for this group of players.
If anything in particular was learned about this weekend’s game, it’s that this Mountain Hawk team still needs work in order to win their Patriot League games and possibly win a Patriot League championship. Spectacular individual plays, like junior CB Brandon Leaks upending Princeton RB Dre Nelson, are great, and like any other Lehigh fan I love to see them. But the stuff needed to win football games are greater than individual plays, unfortunately.
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It is not my favorite movie by a longshot, but this week my family and I watched Back to the Future, the seminal Robert Zemeckis coming-of-age movie starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd.
I’ve always felt it’s an OK, meh movie. It seems to rely on gimmicks and time gags (“What’s a rerun?”) to get its yuks, and it has no business being as beloved as it remains to this day. My wife and my son loved it, as they have their own minds and, in our family, you’re allowed to like what you like without criticism. I watched it, happy they were happy, and amused.
In the back of my mind while watching Christopher Lloyd attach the cable to the tower clock, I was worried about Penn.
The consequences of a loss in this game to the 2015 season would have been severe. The Mountain Hawks were already coming off a rough 55-17 loss to James Madison, one where criticisms of the team, the coaches, and players were starting to be heard. A 1-2 start heading into two tough out-of-conference games versus Princeton and Yale could have the Mountain Hawks staring down a 1-4 start going into conference play.
Instead, Lehigh would crack 40 points at home in a 42-21 win over Penn, scoring six touchdowns and for the most part controlling the game in a way that wasn’t seen in a while at Murray Goodman Stadium.
With a three touchdown win and the Mountain Hawks dropping 40 points at home, are we… Back to the Future?
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When James Madison head coach Everett Withers was asked about attempting an onsides kick against Lehigh while up 31 points, he made the simple observation that the opportunity was there for the taking.
At home, watching the game streamed live to my big TV screen, I won’t lie – I was furious.
After thinking about it a day, though, maybe I should be thanking him.
For coach Withers may not have meant it in this way, but the key to a successful season for Lehigh in 2015 may have been that onsides kick – what it meant, what it showed, and how this football team can take that moment going forward.
It didn’t get a lot of publicity, but the theme of this year’s 2015 Mountain Hawk team was voted to be “family” by the members of the squad.
And indeed, “family” was how the game felt out in New Britain, Connecticut, where Lehigh took care of business against Central Connecticut State, 20-14.
The Blue Devils averaged 3,078 fans per home game in 2014. With a Friday night opening, the presence of a lot of family members, and a healthy-sized Lehigh contingent, packed Arute Field held more than 5,100 people in the stands.
Everywhere you looked at the game there was family. Including my dad.
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It was bound to happen sometime. I got the message from a friend of mine, whom I met with a whole bunch of other guys at Lehigh heading up to Rathbone dining hall so very long ago.
He had just dropped his own son off at college.
He remembered heading up to Rathbone with all those guys and gals that first weekend in South Bethlehem, brought together almost at random, the only thing really linking everyone together being they got in to Lehigh. We didn’t know it then, but it was the first step of an exciting adventure that, for all of us, anyway, would be rewarding and wonderful.
I didn’t initially get into this writing thing to talk about how great it was to be a student at Lehigh, oddly enough, though for me it was, indeed, great. I’ve gotten here over time, after writing about an awful lot of football games, writing about the Patriot League, writing about Football Championship Subdivision, or FCS, and about “what I damn please ( a term coined by my grandmother concerning my grandfather, incidentally).
Like my time at Lehigh, my writing life started small, and unexpectedly has become an exciting adventure that has continued to be rewarding and wonderful. Even if, sometimes, I hate my own writing and wish it were better, or I wish I could attend just one more practice before I make a preview, or I wish I could get one more interview of Bucknell’s head football coach at Media Day.