It’s Supposed To Suck, And It’s Supposed To Hurt

(Photo Credit: Kevin Mingora/Morning Call)

"You didn't cry or anything when Lehigh lost this weekend, did you?"

That was the greeting I got when I came back into the office (from another Lehigh football fan, interestingly) this Monday, as if he knew that I would be taking the loss this weekend especially hard.

I did not cry.  But I did hurt.  And I know not a few men that I respect that I know cried on Saturday.

This is probably not a revelation to most people who know me through this writing vehicle or in person, but yes, I took the loss hard.

Believe me, if you saw my wife and son recently, they'd probably tell you that I was not a pleasant person to be in the car with on Saturday.  Or Sunday.  Or Monday.

The truth is, I take every loss hard, and losses to what is the biggest rival in football, Lafayette, hurt especially hard.  It is an occupational hazard of caring too much about a sports team.

To me, losses to Lafayette are supposed to suck.  To me, losses to Lafayette are supposed to hurt.  It's the very nature of the thing, winning and losing.

And for me, I guess, it sucks more than most of my friends and acquaintances.  I have an inability to put it behind me in an evening, or even a weekend, even though I put in a good front, I think, to friends and family.

Most people move on pretty quickly, especially in this era of social media and distractions.  In a way, I envy them, but in another way I don't.
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Lafayette Erases Five Years of Frustration, Beats Rivals Lehigh 50-38

On the third play of scrimmage, Lafayette freshman QB Drew Reed fumbled the ball off a bad snap.

The ball squirted loose from the line - where a Lehigh player might have fallen on it - and instead nudged in the direction of junior RB Ross Scheuerman, who found himself with the ball in his hands, and, on the broken goal line play, wide open space to get into the end zone.

It was that type of day for the Mountain Hawks - a day when five years of Rivalry frustrations, five years of balls bouncing the wrong way, and five years of Lehigh victories came crashing to an end.

It was a game where Lehigh never led.  It was a game when the Mountain Hawks came close to coming back - and clearly believing that it could, and would, happen.  But it wasn't meant to be, as Lafayette took home all the marbles on Saturday - the Patriot League Trophy, the Patriot League championship and autobid, and the win over Lehigh that the players, and the many people that follow the Lafayette football program, have been hungering for the last five years.
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Game Breakdown, Lafayette at Lehigh, #Rivalry149, 11/23/2013

(Photo Credit: Morning Call)

We break down the Lafayette game, the 149th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

Some key things you'll need to know before the Game of the Year:

* The Lehigh Football Partnership will be opening at 9:00 AM for tailgating at the Rust Pavillion with former football players and families, and at 10:00 AM there will be a "special guest".

* Out of town and want to watch Rivalry 149 with friendly Lehigh fans?  Click here and find a telecast party across the country.  There's even one in London!

* The game will be on the following TV/Radio and streaming places:
Patriot League Network (Lehigh Broadcast: Free)
ESPN3 (Lafayette Broadcast: Free if ISP provides it)
WMFZ 69 in the Lehigh Valley
Lafayette Sports Network (WBPH-60 in the Lehigh Valley Area and other networks across the country)
Fox College Sports Pacific (Live; Lehigh Broadcast; Available Nationally On Many Cable Systems)
Radio: AM 1230/1320 with Matt Kerr, Marty Horn, and Tom Fallon, Stream Here

I'd list other games that are being broadcast this day but - let's get real - there's only one game this weekend, right???
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Game Preview, Lafayette at Lehigh, #Rivalry149, 11/23/2013

(Photo Credit: The Express-Times)

If there's one word we've heard a lot in the media, and from both schools this week, it's "marbles".

"We're playing for all the marbles," head coach Andy Coen said in the Lehigh Football Report this week, echoing what seems to be anyone following the game in the Lehigh Valley.

It is true that the winner of the game this weekend will be Patriot League champions, with a 4-1 conference record.

It is also true that the winner will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, head to the FCS playoffs this weekend.  (While Lehigh could sneak in the field with a loss, it seems real unlikely.)

But more than that, the winner of this yearly Rivalry battle will indeed win something more than just a Patriot League Championship trophy to keep in Bethlehem or Easton another year.

It really does feel like an old-fashioned game of marbles, where the winner really does take everything they were looking to achieve that season, and the loser comes away with none of the goals they set out to achieve and instead the have to wait until next season.
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25 Years Ago, My First Lehigh/Lafayette Game

(Photo Credit: Morning Call File Photo)

Twenty-five years ago, I went to my first Lehigh/Lafayette game and almost saw a record held by Sean Payton fall.

As a part of Eastern Illinois' high-powered passing offense, Payton owned a I-AA record for most passing yards in a half.

Lehigh QB Jim Harris came - incredibly - one yard short of the record of passing yards in a single half, 372 yards.

And while the potent battle of great Engineer and Leopard offenses (or, perhaps, the struggle of two subpar Engineer and Leopard defenses) would end up in a 52-45 win for Lafayette in Easton, it served as my first-ever view of The Rivalry as an undergrad.

You could say it's the reason why I'm doing this today.
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How Punts, Slush, And A Hall-Of-Fame Coach Broke Lafayette’s Funk In 1898

It was a rough time to be a Leopard in 1898.

It was that year that the trial of the former Lafayette professor that burned Pardee Hall for the second time went forward, whose vandalism and (what would be called today) terrorism earned him six years in the slammer, after an Easton trial that rocked the community.

It was that summer when the main fighting in the Spanish-American War occurred (with the founder of the Lehigh football team, Richard Harding Davis, as war correspondent), and General Charles Augustus Wilkoff, Lafayette alumnus and resident of Easton, was killed  leading his men preparing for an attack on San Juan Hill.

If any souls attending Lafayette were hoping to get an inkling of inspiration from their football team, though, they'd be even more disappointed.

After the not-too-distant glory years of mythical national championships, upsetting Penn in 1896 and being considered a football power in the East, the Leopards fell upon hard times in 1898, losing eight straight in that dreary fall.  As Wilkoff was laid to rest on a rainy day in October, and the plans for yet another renovation of Pardee Hall were drawn up, Lafayette had to find out a way to beat Lehigh on Thanksgiving Day.
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Before Looking Ahead, A Peek At Lehigh’s "Achievements"

(Photo Credit: Bob Cornell/Colgate Sports Information via the Morning Call)

There will be an entire week to get ready for the 149th meeting between Lehigh and a certain school from Easton.

But it's worth taking a tiny peek back at this weekend's game - just a tiny one - to see how far this team has come.

This Lehigh team has gone through a multitude of challenges this season, on the field and off.

And it's a true "achievement", no matter what happens this Saturday, that this team is in a position to win the Patriot League the final weekend of the year.
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Lehigh Avenges Last Year’s Loss to Colgate in Spectacular Fashion, 31-14

Every single Lehigh player remembered.

They remembered the chaos on the field last year at Murray Goodman Stadium, when Colgate beat Lehigh and celebrated on their field, Lehigh's field, after their championship win.

They remembered the team photos.  The hats.  The championship trophy.  The championship picture.  In their house.

And they remembered that they didn't want to see that again this season.

For the second straight week, senior RB Keith Sherman ran over a Patriot League opponent.  For the second time in two must-win games, Lehigh won a game they had to have to keep their Patriot League title and playoff hopes alive.

But up in Hamilton, it wasn't a time of whooping and hollering after the game.

It was a line and a postgame handshake - in other words, business.  And Lehigh, in their most complete defensive performance of the season, got their business done in very impressive fashion.
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Lehigh Fan Viewing Guide Week Of 11/16/2013

Yes, Virginia, there are other big FCS games this weekend, even though it may not seem like it.

If you're not up in Hamilton for Biddle Bobblehead day, you can (and should!) catch all the action on the Patriot League network online, and catch the radio broadcast on LehighSports.com.

But there are actually other games that will also go a long way towards determining the FCS autobids as well.

To catch the critical Lehigh game, here are the links:

Saturday, 1:00 PM, Football: Holy Cross at Lehigh:
Audio at LehighSports.Com
Video via Patriot League Network
Live Stats


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Game Breakdown, Lehigh vs. Colgate, 11/16/2013

“They've won a lot of close games this year, which we have done in the past. They know how to win and they are very well coached. And you couldn't ask for a better scenario, to be able to get all the way through the season and have the last league game be for the championship and a bid to the playoffs. We know what to expect and I'm happy for our players. It's a one-game season for a championship, and that's all you could ask for.  We've got to treat it like it's just another game and they're going to wear different-colored jerseys."

Those were the words of none other than Dick Biddle, approximately 368 days ago, when Colgate traveled down to Lehigh to face off against the Mountain Hawks for a Patriot League championship.

They are also words that could have been torn out of this week's Biddle presser as well, perhaps adding that the Raiders have won four of their last six, and won eight of their last ten Patriot League games.

For Lehigh, it's technically not a Championship game - they need to win this game in order to get to a Championship game, Rivalry 149 down in the friendly confines of Murray Goodman stadium.  But for Colgate, almost all the Championship Week quotes from last year still apply.

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