Category Archives: Derek Knott

2016 Season In Review: Mountain Hawks Complete Five Year Trek To Patriot League Championship

Kids come to play football at Lehigh because they want their games to matter.

They come to Lehigh willing to sacrifice so much, because they want to win games, of course, but they also play the game in order to win championships - Patriot League Championships.

They want those rings.

Sure, they get to square off against the Villanova's, James Madison's and New Hampshire's of the FCS world to measure themselves against the best of their division.  And they get to participate in the nation's most played Rivalry in all of college football, putting them in an elite club of players and into college football history.

All of those things are very important, of course, and allow them great playing memories and, in the case of the Lafayette game, perennial bragging rights.  

But 2015's heartbreak in Hamilton, the 49-42 loss to Colgate, really hurt on a fundamental level for this Lehigh team.  When that senior class was recruited, one of the things that is a part of the deal is that the Mountain Hawks have won Patriot League championships at least once in every four year span.  Until, that is, the class of 2016, though they came agonizingly close several times.

That disappointment seemed to inform this year's team, which also had a couple of fifth-year seniors in senior WR Derek Knott and senior ROV Laquan Lambert, that so many of last year's team didn't get the chance at the championship rings that they ended up earning this season.  

It informed them all the way to a championship, and rings.
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QUICK RECAP: Lehigh’s Season Comes To Close After Dominating 64-21 Defeat To UNH

Right from the opening drive it didn't feel like it was going to be Lehigh's day.

With sophomore QB Brad Mayes in for senior QB Nick Shafnisky, who was unable to start due to an undisclosed illness, a pass that bounced off the hands of senior WR Derek Knott instead bounced into the hands of New Hampshire's first team all-CAA CB Casey DeAndrade.

Six plays later, the New Hampshire offense converted that turnover into the very first touchdown of the day for the Wildcats, the first of many on a defense that clearly missed senior LB Colton Caslow, who got hurt in the second half against Lafayette last weekend.

Four different New Hampshire players scored a grand total of six rushing touchdowns, two coming from RB Dalton Crossan, two coming from his backup, RB Trevon Bryant, one from the third-string, RB Evan Gray, and one on a scramble from QB Adam Riese.

All in all, the Wildcats racked up 364 yards rushing on the Brown and White, rushing to a 36-7 lead on the Mountain Hawks and coasting to a 64-21 victory.  In the ultimate twist of irony, Lehigh got beat in the way they had beaten so many opponents in their nine game regular-season winning streak - with UNH jumping to a big lead and never really taking their foot off the gas.
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#Rivalry152 Senior Spotlight

Thought I'd put together this multimedia "presentation" of all the seniors that will be playing in #Rivalry152 tomorrow.  All the content here, pictures, videos, etc. are mostly courtesy of LehighSports.com, The Morning Call, Lehigh Valley Live, and The Brown and White.

If nothing else it will go you something to do while waiting for tomorrow's game.

Enjoy.

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Lehigh 58 Fordham 37 Postgame Commentary: Coming Out Next Week "On Fire"

(Photo Credit: Keith Groller/The Morning Call)

Lehigh football post-game press conferences don't get much more relaxed than the one that happened last weekend.

You can hardly blame head coach Andy Coen, senior QB Nick Shafnisky, junior DE Tyler Cavenas and sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone for feeling that way, after jumping to a 13-0 lead right out of the gates and piling up an incredible 57-9 lead against their opponents last weekend before calling off the dogs.

It led to a familiar feeling in the post-game: talk of how the offense is clicking so well, how the defense keeps coming up big.  There were plenty of accolades to go around.

But when one media member tried to lightly broach the subject to Lafayette, the always-loquacious Shafnisky quickly steered the conversation back to next week's game.

That's because Shafnisky, perhaps more than anybody, feels the importance of next week's game vs. Bucknell.

"For us to be in this position, it's all a credit to us and our coaches. We put ourselves in this position, we earned it. But we didn't earn anything yet. Next week, when you ask that question again, hopefully I'll be the happiest man."

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Chase Who? Shafnisky, Bragalone Combine for 6 Rushing TDs, Beat Fordham, 58-37

(Photo Credit: Amy Herzog/The Morning Call)

When people think Lehigh football, they rightfully think of a powerful air attack.

After all, the Mountain Hawks boast the top two receivers in all of FCS in regards to receiving yards, junior WR Troy Pelletier and junior WR Gatlin Casey.

What they don't necessarily think of is a grinding rushing attack, something more out of a triple-option team or perhaps a run-heavy Wing-T team.

Yet in Lehigh's 58-37 statement win over Fordham, the same Ram team with potential future NFL player RB Chase Edmonds, the main headline wasn't the aerial show, though there were a few highlight-reel plays there, too.

Instead, the headline became Lehigh's six rushing touchdowns, three from senior QB Nick Shafnisky and three more from sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone, and 349 yards on the ground.

I looked through the record books last night, and combed through recaps of a lot of football games, and the last time I found that Lehigh scored six rushing touchdowns in a game was in 1971, when FB John "Jack" Rizzo and RB Don Diorio combined for six rushing TDs in a 48-19 win over Lafayette.

That's some pretty good company.
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QUICK RECAP: Lehigh Explodes Out of the Gate And Runs Over Fordham, 58-37

It was supposed to be RB Chase Edmonds' day.

The questions around Lehigh, as ever, surrounded the defense.  Would they be able to slow down Edmonds?  Would he score two touchdowns, or three?  Would they hold the almost-certain-NFL-player to only 200 yards?

In all the talk about Edmonds, people forgot about two pretty good runners on the Lehigh side: senior QB Nick Shafnisky and sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone.

Bragalone, for the second straight week, had another amazing game, getting 192 yards rushing, zero negative rushes, and 3 touchdowns.  Shafnisky ran for 112 yards and added 3 touchdowns of his own.

It would be a game where Lehigh would not need to punt - the first game since Bucknell in 1999 where that was the case.  That's because they ran over Fordham, 58-37, going up at one point 51-9 before giving up a bunch of late scores.

Next week Lehigh will host Bucknell for the right to clinch an FCS playoff shot, and the chance to do no worse than tie for the Patriot League championship.

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QUICK RECAP: Lehigh Train Keeps Chugging Through Worcester, Dominate Holy Cross In 46-14 Win

On the first drive of the game, surprise Holy Cross starting QB Blaise Bell connected on a long pass to WR Jake Wieczorek, setting up a big touchdown run by WR Brendan Flaherty.

On the last drive of the game, freshman RB Domenic Cozier ran up the middle to score his first collegiate touchdown for the Crusaders.

In between those two touchdowns, it was for the most part all Lehigh.

Lehigh's defense held Holy Cross to 281 yards of total offense and forced five turnovers - most of it coming on a couple of pass plays - and allowed the offense to to pummel Holy Cross' defense with a balanced attack.  With three passing touchdowns from sophomore QB Brad Mayes and three rushing touchdowns, two of them by sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone, Lehigh would score 46 unanswered points to win resoundingly, 46-14, at Fitton Field.
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Awesome Ridiculousness In A Record-Setting Day At Yale Bowl

(Photos and Graphic courtesy of Lehigh Athletics)

Suppose you put in a copy of NCAA Football '14 into your dusty Playstation 3.  You create a team, "Lehigh", and put in the entire Lehigh roster, and make them 99s across the board.

You pick a team to play against - say, Yale - and you pick a place to play, of course, the Yale Bowl.  You put it on the medium setting.

Would these stat lines seem out of place if you played that game on that system?

Sophomore QB Brad Mayes - 33 of 46 passing, 524 yards, 6 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.

Junior WR Troy Pelletier - 13 catches, 213 yards, 3 TDs.

Junior WR Gatlin Casey - 6 catches, 169 yards 2 TDs.

They look like something out of a video game - yet those are the real stats to come out of the Yale Bowl this weekend in an extraordinary, awesome, ridiculousness of an offensive performance.  These numbers weren't the only great numbers to come out of this record-setting game out of the Yale Bowl, but they stick out.
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Lehigh’s Biggest Spring Goal Might Be To Stay Healthy

Coach Andy Coen at football practice (Morning Call)
Lehigh's spring session has been underway for several weeks now - the period of time where Patriot League championships are won.

It's a spring season where, frankly, there's not that much drama, especially on offense.

There's no drama at quarterback, where senior QB Nick Shafnisky is firmly ensconced as the starter, and proven sophomore QB Brad Mayes right there next to him on the depth chart.

It's very clear that sophomore RB Dominic Bragalone will be a big part of next year's offense, health willing, as well as junior WR Troy Pelletier and a many players from last year's offense that led the Patriot League in total offensive yardage.

So what is the big story halfway through the spring?

Whether there will be enough healthy bodies to have a spring game.
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Lehigh Rewrites Recent History And Throws Aside Lafayette In #Rivalry151, 49-35

All the Rivalry games are memorable in their own way for everyone in attendance, from the seniors playing in their last game to the kids playing on the grass embankment.

The there will be four plays that will be remembered the most, the four plays that defined this game for Lehigh and really demonstrated how tough this team was in 2015, and how tough they might be in 2016.

Most importantly, though, was the fact that Lehigh finally was able to chuck aside any doubts about winning a big game.

Wins against Lafayette are always important for the many Lehigh fans in the near-16,000 people who attend these games.  But winning this particular game was doubly important for this Lehigh squad that seemed to almost desperately need the win in order to demonstrate to the fans in the Valley who they are, who they were, and where they're headed.
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