Patriot League Fans Stunned At the Firing of Tom Gilmore at Holy Cross

It was clear that Holy Cross' 32-0 loss to Yale wasn't going to yield many highlights for their end-of-the-year DVD.

“We just couldn’t string anything together,” head coach Tom Gilmore said after the loss. “They got us on our heels. They were executing some big plays and it snowballed. Yale kept the pressure on and it one of those days we couldn’t flip the momentum.”

At 2-5, the Crusaders did, and still do, have a chance to win the Patriot League, if they win the rest of their games and Lafayette loses twice - certainly not an inconceivable notion.

Even so, Holy Cross athletic director Nathan Pine sent shockwaves through the Patriot League this weekend when he called head coach Tom Gilmore and told him that he was being terminated immediately, with Brian Rock, the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, taking over in an interim basis.

“Traditionally I’m not a proponent of a mid-season change,” Pine told Jen Toland of The Worcester Telegram-Gazette, “but I’ve watched carefully, and especially over these last three weeks our team has seemed to spiral and our performance has gotten progressively worse and so I didn’t want to delay the decision any longer, because hopefully this can be a rallying point and a galvanizing moment for our team to still have some success at the end of the season. I just didn’t feel like that would happen if we didn’t have a significant change.”

The fall of this Holy Cross team and the circumstances that led to Gilmore's firing was stunning.
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Lehigh Goes 2-0 In Patriot League Play With Critical 54-35 Win Over Georgetown

The 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks are known for having a great offense, a high-octane group that features stars like junior QB Brad Mayes and junior RB Dominick Bragalone.

But senior WR Troy Pelletier would trade it all for conference wins.

On an afternoon where he broke a bunch of school and Patriot League records - some of them unanticipated - his focus, as ever, was about getting the league victories that count towards the main goal of this team - to defend their Patriot League Championship.

"I didn't know what the records are," Troy said afterwards about his record-busting, 16 catch, 197 receiving yard, 4 touchdown performance.  "I just knew I was close.  I knew it was going to come if I bought in every day, do what I need to do every day to get better, and I knew it would come."

Fortunately for Lehigh fans, his banner day came to allow Lehigh to resoundingly beat Georgetown 54-35 and go to 2-0 in Patriot League play.
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QUICK RECAP: Pelletier’s Career Day Helps Propel Lehigh To Victory over Georgetown, 54-35

Before the game, the Lehigh sports social media team had some graphics ready for a record that senior WR Troy Pelletier had a high probability of breaking today.

Troy, or "The Doctor", as I call him, had to get 60 yards receiving to beat the Patriot League record for receiving yardage.

After he skied past that record, the social media folks had to keep assembling a lot more graphics.

By the end of the game, more records would be falling left and right.  The career Patriot League touchdown record - the first time since 2001 since a Lehigh player nabbed 4 touchdown receptions in a game.  Somewhere in the fourth quarter, he'd grab his 16th reception, breaking his own record for receptions in a game.

In the end, Lehigh cruised, never trailing in a 54-28 win over the Hoyas, but the story was Pelletier, whose amazing 16 catch, 197 yard, 4 TD game was the talk afterwards.

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Georgetown at Lehigh Media Pack (w/Video): 1977 Champions Coming Back To Goodman

As a guy who is pretty passionate about his Lehigh football history, it was great to see a national champion on the set of Lehigh Sports Central this week.

QB Mike Rieker, quarterback of the 1977 Division II National Champions, showed up to talk to Steve Degler about his role on that team and share some stories (and some video highlights) about that magical season.

One thing he didn't do is talk about funny locker room stories about head coach John Whitehead.

"It was strictly business with coach Whitehead," he said.  "There was no footing around in the locker room until you left.  He was all business, and it reflected on us, a lot of guys took to heart they didn't want to make mistakes, because you'd have to face him.  He was a tough taskmaster and a great teacher, and he ended up being a really good friend.

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An LFN Investigation: What’s Wrong with Patriot League football?

This week, Lafayette plays Harvard up in Cambridge, where the 2-4 Leopards are expected to lose to the 2-2 Crimson.  I say expected to lose because with one exception since 2000, that's what's happened every time Lafayette has played Harvard: they have lost 12 out of their last 13 to the Johnnies, and have a lifetime record of 3-19 against them.

The expectation among Patriot League football fans is that football scholarships was supposed to change all of that.  Simply offer conventional football scholarships, add to that a chance to play in the FCS Playoffs, and suddenly football recruits choosing between Harvard and Lehigh for business would start choosing Lehigh.

It hasn't worked out quite that way.

Through five games in 2017, the combined record of the Patriot League is a mind-boggling 8-21 outside of Patriot League contests.   And of those eight wins, only one has come against a team from the Ivy League - Colgate's 21-7 win over Cornell.  Collectively, the Patriot League is 1-7 against the Ancient Eight, with six of those seven losses coming by more than two touchdowns.

This is not what fans of the Patriot League signed up for five years ago when they decided to offer the same sort of scholarships that schools like Delaware, Montana and North Dakota State.  But is the problem scholarships, or is it something else?


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An LFN Investigation: What’s Wrong with Patriot League football?

This week, Lafayette plays Harvard up in Cambridge, where the 2-4 Leopards are expected to lose to the 2-2 Crimson.  I say expected to lose because with one exception since 2000, that's what's happened every time Lafayette has played Harvard: they have lost 12 out of their last 13 to the Johnnies, and have a lifetime record of 3-19 against them.

The expectation among Patriot League football fans is that football scholarships was supposed to change all of that.  Simply offer conventional football scholarships, add to that a chance to play in the FCS Playoffs, and suddenly football recruits choosing between Harvard and Lehigh for business would start choosing Lehigh.

It hasn't worked out quite that way.

Through five games in 2017, the combined record of the Patriot League is a mind-boggling 8-21 outside of Patriot League contests.   And of those eight wins, only one has come against a team from the Ivy League - Colgate's 21-7 win over Cornell.  Collectively, the Patriot League is 1-7 against the Ancient Eight, with six of those seven losses coming by more than two touchdowns.

This is not what fans of the Patriot League signed up for five years ago when they decided to offer the same sort of scholarships that schools like Delaware, Montana and North Dakota State.  But is the problem scholarships, or is it something else?


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Georgetown At Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: A Lehigh Show-Me Game

We break down the Georgetown game - and we give our fearless prediction below the flip.

Like many college football fans, I was surprised to see Maryland start out the season strong with a 3-1 record.

Their lopsided loss to Ohio State has taken some of the shine of the Terps early season, but if they can scrape three more wins against the likes of Northwestern, Indiana and  Rutgers, they could be looking at a bowl bid and a successful, surprising season.  (After the game this weekend, Maryland takes on Northwestern at 3:30 PM on ESPN2, incidentally.)

It's easy to pull for the Terps if you're a Georgetown or Lehigh fan.

First, former Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo is special teams coordinator, tight ends coach and assistant head coach to Maryland skipper D.J. Durkin.  Lembo, a former Georgetown lineman, was head coach from 2001-2005, going 44-14 over that stretch and leading the Mountain Hawks to two Patriot League championships in 2001 and 2004.  He happened to also be skipper during Lehigh's last two home FCS playoff games at Murray Goodman Stadium as well: vs. Hofstra (2001, Win) and vs. James Madison (2004, Loss).

The second reason to pull for the Terps, though, is their kicker.

Terps PK Henry Darmstadter was recently profiled in The Washington Post as having taken a very unlikely path to Big 10 football: through a three year football odyssey with Georgetown.

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Georgetown At Lehigh Game Preview: Enough Was Enough

(Photo Credit: Morning Call)

"When’s enough, enough?"

Sometimes the game narratives can fall into something that seems like a cliche - the old halftime pep talk about "winning one for the Gipper", or something like that.  But this one feels different.

Head coach Andy Coen talked about it, and junior QB Brad Mayes talked about it - about Brad taking control of the locker room at halftime with a team full of long faces.

Going into that locker room, Brad had just before rallied on a broken play to fire a perfect pass to junior RB Dominick Bragalone to cut the two-touchdown deficit to one, and after a special teams touchdown for Colgate was called back on a penalty, the defense stopped Colgate cold to end the half.

But despite the momentum, gloom was still in the locker room.

“As a quarterback, you have to be a vocal leader," Brad told Keith Groller of The Morning Call this week.  "I’ve done it in the past when I was younger and in high school, and even when I played the past couple of years here, but I hadn’t done it until this year. We were just down seven. I didn’t understand the long faces and I basically said ‘When’s enough, enough?’ I said you guys have to hate losing as much as I do. We just had to go out and put forth the effort. We’re still a good football team. We just had to execute and it would work out, and it did.”

The Mountain Hawks then did enough to win the football game, and are hoping that they've said enough to losing any more games this season.  The first test to see if that comes to pass will come at home as Lehigh hosts Georgetown.

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LFN Midseason Report Card: All-Nighter Before Midterm Saves Passing Grade?

We've all been there, Lehigh fans.  I know I was as an undergrad.

You enter the mid-term needing something big to save a bad grade, so you work furiously, trying to catch up on months of the readings you should have been doing, going over homework you skipped for some good reason - that good reason escapes you now, of course - to try to ace the midterm that can pull your grade back up from the dead.

With copious amounts of coffee, you go over the readings, taking the notes you should have been taking all along.  You stay up all night to go over all the material, catching several catnaps during the morning.  You finally enter the classroom of the test - and you deliver the grade you needed.  You save your GPA, and you find yourself finally back on track - and then you collapse in a heap of bones on your bed.

OK, maybe the Colgate victory was not quite like that.

In a way, though, it feels like it - the win injects a huge measure of hope into a season that was pointed in the wrong direction, and allows Lehigh Nation to look at the midseason as a place to keep winning games and to possibly fight and claw their way to another Patriot League Championship.

LFN's midseason grades are below.
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