Category Archives: Drink of the Week

1st Round FCS Playoffs Game Preview: Lehigh at Stony Brook: Playoff Return To Long Island For First Time Since ’99

I remember the last game Lehigh played on Long Island; I was there. 

It also happened to be a FCS Playoff, or back then, I-AA Playoff, game. 

It wasn't against Stony Brook, who finished their very first season in I-AA that year with a 5-5 record and a win over St. John's (NY), 28-6.

It was against a team that used to be the biggest college football program on Long Island - an East Coast independent, Hofstra, that was led by head coach Joe Gardi.  Like Stony Brook, Hofstra had transitioned to I-AA football, but they had done so much earlier, and even with the challenge of scheduling as an independent, had developed into a playoff team quickly.

Hofstra used to have a national presence on the football stage.  Jets fans marveled at the diminutive WR Wayne Chrebet, and fell in love with his story - the local boy who led the Dutchmen in receiving, but only was on the Jets because he hustled his way into a tryout.  Legend has it that the security guard at Jets training camp stopped him on the Hofstra campus, not believing that he could possibly be a NFL wide receiver at 5 foot 10 - despite his success on that same field.

That was a big part of the story of Hofstra's football program, and 1999, when Lehigh played the Dutchmen in Long Island might have been Hofstra's peak not only as a football program but as an athletic program.  Since then, Stony Brook has passed Hofstra in about every measurable way, but in 1999, Hofstra, who was still looking for a football conference after the Patriot League would still not offer them an invite, loomed as Lehigh's opponent.

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#Rivalry153 Game Preview: The Great – Yet Terrifying – Bowl Game To End the 2017 Regular Season

Senior OL Zach Duffy could have chosen to talk about any number of career highs when he reflected this week in The Brown and White about his time as a football player at Lehigh.

He could have talked about building the program up from a 4-7 team into a Patriot League champion, crushing the sweet dreams of Lafayette last year in Easton in the 152nd version of The Rivalry, 45-21,
or perhaps he could have waxed philosophic about the last time Lehigh squared off against Lafayette at Murray Goodman Stadium, the time when QB Nick Shafnisky threw aside a Lafayette defender and the Mountain Hawks blew the doors out with a 49-35 win.

But that's not what he talked about at all.

He went right at the "agony of defeat" moments instead, talking about the loss to Lafayette in 2013, the infamous "it's supposed to suck, and it's supposed to hurt" game where an 8-2 Lehigh team faced off against a 4-6 Lafayette squad that ended up going to the FCS Playoffs with a 5-6 record.

"We had come into that game 8-2 with some momentum," Zach wrote.  "We knew Lafayette was a tough team, but we didn’t respect them because we thought they couldn’t be tougher than us.

"[And after the loss,] I had no option but to stagger through the families consoling our seniors because they would never play football again. I watched grown men cry because they’d never again make a game-changing play, score a touchdown or deliver those big hits we love on defense. We saw their faces, and we felt their pain. Not only were their careers over, but we also lost the Patriot League Championship to our archrivals.  Now, four years later, we’re in a similar position."

Lehigh has played three Rivalry games since that 2013 meeting, but none of them technically had the Patriot League Championship - and an FCS Playoff berth - on the line, because Lehigh had wrapped up the autobid and no worse than a co-championship going in.  In 2013, the Mountain Hawks had everything to play for, and lost, and this season, in 2017, Lehigh is in the exact same position.

And that's both exciting - and terrifying.

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Holy Cross at Lehigh Game Preview: Two Rollercoaster Seasons Meet Head-On At Murray Goodman

Holy Cross' and Lehigh's paths to having fun playing football have been different, but two teams that appear to have reclaimed the fun to some degree will be facing off this weekend at Murray Goodman Stadium in an intriguing, important football game.

The 4-6 Crusaders have only one path to a Patriot League co-championship: beat 3-6 Lehigh this weekend, and hope 3-6 Lafayette and 5-4 Colgate lose at least one game the rest of the way.

But in Holy Cross' regular-season finale, it doesn't really feel like it's about the postseason - which would only happen in the unlikely event of Lehigh and Holy Cross finishing at 4-2, and Lafayette and Colgate finishing at 3-3 in league play.

For Lehigh, though, the Patriot League Championship and the opportunity to play in the FCS Playoffs is still very much in play.  Beat Holy Cross, and beat Lafayette in the 153rd meeting of The Rivalry, and this Mountain Hawk team will have a ring fitting in their future and a football practice on Thanksgiving.

And in a way, that's what makes this game extra-dangerous for these Mountain Hawks.  The Crusaders are nearing the likely finale of their roller-coaster ride.  Lehigh's 2017 coaster ride still has some very big twists and turns still in it.
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Holy Cross at Lehigh Game Preview: Two Rollercoaster Seasons Meet Head-On At Murray Goodman

Holy Cross' and Lehigh's paths to having fun playing football have been different, but two teams that appear to have reclaimed the fun to some degree will be facing off this weekend at Murray Goodman Stadium in an intriguing, important football game.

The 4-6 Crusaders have only one path to a Patriot League co-championship: beat 3-6 Lehigh this weekend, and hope 3-6 Lafayette and 5-4 Colgate lose at least one game the rest of the way.

But in Holy Cross' regular-season finale, it doesn't really feel like it's about the postseason - which would only happen in the unlikely event of Lehigh and Holy Cross finishing at 4-2, and Lafayette and Colgate finishing at 3-3 in league play.

For Lehigh, though, the Patriot League Championship and the opportunity to play in the FCS Playoffs is still very much in play.  Beat Holy Cross, and beat Lafayette in the 153rd meeting of The Rivalry, and this Mountain Hawk team will have a ring fitting in their future and a football practice on Thanksgiving.

And in a way, that's what makes this game extra-dangerous for these Mountain Hawks.  The Crusaders are nearing the likely finale of their roller-coaster ride.  Lehigh's 2017 coaster ride still has some very big twists and turns still in it.
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Lehigh at Fordham Game Preview: Unmet Expectations – And Hope – Will Clash In The Bronx

This was not how it was supposed to be.

Back in March, looking at the schedule, plenty of Lehigh and Fordham fans looked at the schedule and circled October 28th, 2017 as a must-see game.

WR Troy Pelletier?  RB Chase Edmonds?  Are you kidding me?  It might be a battle of nationally-ranked teams!  There's an outside chance ESPN College Football Gameday might show up in New York City!  Imagine that!

College Football Gameday did indeed come to New York City this season.  But it wasn't for the matchup on October 28th, 2017.

Now that the date is very close to being upon us, a very different College Football Gameday-free matchup awaits.

Sure, WR Troy Pelletier will be suiting up for Lehigh, and even though he didn't suit up versus Georgetown this week, it's anticipated that RB Chase Edmonds will suit up this weekend as well.  The game, without question, will be a showcase for some athletes that might very well find themselves playing on Sundays.  For that reason, this could be a special game in the Bronx.

But instead of a battle of Top 25 teams, it's the 2-5 Mountain Hawks taking on the 2-6 Rams.

And yet - there is some bullishness in the Bronx this weekend as well, for despite the disappointing records.

For Lehigh, at 2-0 in the Patriot League, and Fordham, at 1-2 in league play, a Patriot League Championship and an autobid to the FCS Playoffs still remain as a possibility for both teams.  It's perhaps not the matchup that folks expected back in the preseason - but for both talented offenses, there's still everything to play for.
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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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Lehigh At Wagner Game Preview: Two Teams Battling Their Own Curses

Lehigh has never played Wagner in football, despite the fact that the schools are separated only by an hour and a half drive and that the institutions both sponsor FCS football in an area of the country where nearby opponents are sometimes hard to come by.

Long-time Patriot League fans might remember Wagner as legendary Lafayette head coach Bill Russo's coaching stint before he came to Easton to coach the Leopards for an 18 year stretch from 1981 to 1999. 

Back in those days, Wagner was a Division III school, playing local schools like Iona, Pace, Seton Hall and Fordham, during a time when it was OK to field a Division III football program and a Division I athletics program (this is something that is no longer allowed today).

Since then, though, many Lehigh fans may not know that much about Wagner College, the Seahawk football program, and their ascent to becoming, eventually, and FCS playoff team.


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Yale At Lehigh Game Preview: Reclaiming Swagger Requires Facing Uncomfortable History

“The past is the past and we aren’t concerned with it. We have learned from our mistakes, and we are ready to move on.”

That comes from junior RB Micco Brisker, who was quoted two years ago after the Mountain Hawks came back from a trip to Princeton where Lehigh fought hard, but fell, to the Tigers 52-26.

The similarities between that week and this week are something that I cannot shake.

Like this week, Lehigh came back home that season to face off against Yale after a tough, physical loss.  Like this week, the Mountain Hawks were coming off a school record being set by senior WR Troy Pelletier in a losing effort.  Like this week, Yale started RB Deshawn Salter, a mild surprise after the expected starter went down to injury.  And like this week, Lehigh came back home after a loss looking to right the ship.

In 2015, Lehigh lost the game.

In 2015, Brisker and LB Colton Caslow talked a good game about being prepared for that week, fixing mistakes and moving forward.  But it didn't result in a win, nor did it result in a Patriot League championship season.

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Lehigh At Monmouth Game Preview: Revenge for the First Half Shutout


The word "Monmouth" last season became a sort-of shorthand for a humbling experience, a game that should have gone much different than it actually did.

It was usually used in the context of:

"Don't pull another Monmouth."

"Lehigh's been doing pretty great - but they have to be careful not to have another Monmouth."

The memory of last year's loss to the Jersey Hawks stung particularly hard, because it had ramifications that slowed the recognition of Lehigh as a legitimate title contender.  Wile their loss last season wasn't stated as a reason why the Mountain Hawks didn't earn a home game in the FCS Playoffs, it was the one, big blemish on Lehigh's record that may have prevented them from being in consideration for a possible seed (and, by extension, at least one home game).

And yet, last year's Monmouth loss also was important in that the loss in that first game of the year seemed to galvanize the Mountain Hawks, sending a potent message that winning every game was going to be hard and nothing was going to come easy.  The lessons learned from that game carried through the season, and, in a way, set up everything good that was to come.

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