Category Archives: Game Preview

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 Bucknell Game Preview: Injuries Force Youth Movement During Possible Championship Run

When the 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks released their very first positional two deep back in September, it had five freshmen and nine sophomores listed. 

That's a fairly normal type of depth chart for a largely veteran team that was ranked in the FCS Top 25.

Only two freshmen,  OG Jackson Evans and LS Jack Dean, were expected to contribute right away, while sophomore FS Riley O'Neil had already started nearly every single game he'd played since his freshman season - already a veteran.

Entering the ninth game of the season, the depth chart that head coach Andy Coen will present to the officials on Saturday will look very different.

The two defensive captains on opening day, senior DT Jim Mitchell and junior SS Sam McCloskey, won't be anywhere to be found - both injured, out for the year.  Junior CB Donavon Harris - still out with a head injury.  Junior LB Mark Walker - out.  Junior ROV Nick Thevaganayam - out.  Senior TE Drew Paulsen - out.  Senior WR Gatlin Casey - most likely out.

In fact, Lehigh's depth chart will have on it eight freshmen, including four (WR Jorge Portorreal, OL Jackson Evans, C Chris Fournier, and ROV Divine Buckrham) who are starting.  Additionally, five sophomores will be starting, including one, sophomore CB Marquis Wilson, who has only started one other football game.

The 2017 season will be remembered not-so-fondly for the number of terrible, season-ending injuries that have freakishly occurred.  And to close out the regular season, it is the next men up, a huge number of them underclassmen, that will determine the ultimate fate of this football team.
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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 Colgate Game Preview: Will Ignition Happen In Hamilton?

Sometimes, the lawnmower engine you've pull-started five times finally gets up and running after the sixth time you've pulled the recoil starter handle - the gas igniting, the smoke billowing, the engine humming. 

And other times, after you pull the recoil starter handle, you hear the parts stirring, something in there wanting to fire, but it doesn't.  Something's amiss - some debris, something out of tune - but the upshot is, ignition doesn't happen.

This is the place where Lehigh football is right now.

The lawnmower that is Lehigh football has ignited - a little.  The engine has had power, and created a whole lot of smoke.  But in the end, each time the system has returned to rest, unable to use the power to get the job done and achieve a single victory.  Things are out of tune.

It's not ideal to have to be in a must-ignite moment against, historically, the second-biggest rival on the football schedule, the team against whom so many epic battles have occurred for the Mountain Hawks - many of them which helped determine the Patriot League Championship and FCS Playoff autobid. 

And yet, here we are, with the recoil starter handle in hand, hoping that this time, the sixth time, everything is tuned correctly and everything starts firing all at the right time.

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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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Penn At Lehigh Game Preview: A Potential Big-Time Receiving Show Might Feature Watson vs. Pelletier

(Photo Credit: Alex Fisher/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

Both Penn head coach Ray Priore and Lehigh head coach Andy Coen aren't necessarily focused on the numbers and the exploits of individual members of their offense.

Priore, focused on finally beating Lehigh for the first time in his head coaching tenure, and Coen, trying to right the ship after a very shaky 0-3 start, have different things to worry about.

But this weekend's affair at Murray Goodman, if the past is any guide, could have the potential of a highlight reel of tremendous catches by some receivers that are getting looks by NFL teams.

Twice before Penn WR Justin Watson and Lehigh WR Troy Pelletier have played against each other, and both times Watson and Pelletier have lit up the opposing secondaries for some tremendous catches and some amazing numbers.

For Penn, it's allegedly about building off the win over Division II Ohio Dominican last week.  For Lehigh, it's supposed to be about getting their first win, and getting some positive momentum back in their season.  But for fans, there's definitely the potential of an offensive circus this weekend that could be immensely entertaining.


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Yale at Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Ridiculous, Sublime, Awesome, Or Awful?

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

This week, College Sports Journal picked their order of finish of the Ivy League and the Elis were picked to finish 5th, in contrast to the preseason Ivy League media poll, where they were picked fourth.

"Exhale, Elis, you did it," it said.  "For only the second time in a decade, Yale finally beat their most bitter Rival in The Game, 21-14, giving head coach Tony Reno something pleasant to bring into the offseason for a change.  That win, however, somewhat masks a maddeningly inconsistent 2016, where Yale went 3-7, gave up more than 40 points on defense four times, and somehow managed to lose to Cornell 27-13 at Schoellkopf Field.  The win in The Game will provide hope in New Haven and a good feeling in the offseason, but will it translate into a winning season and an Ivy League title run?"

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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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