For the first time all season, it was a dark, wet day for a Lehigh football game.
It was not at all ideal for the more than 15,000 fans, and countless tailgaters that made it to the tailgates but not in the stadium, partying and tailgating outside the gates of Murray Goodman.
It was also not at all ideal for Lehigh's high-powered passing game, and during a disastrous second quarter with three turnovers, it felt like the wheels were coming off the Mountain Hawks' chances at successfully defending their Patriot League title.
It seemed like everything that could go wrong, was actually going wrong. Three fumbles resulted in three Lafayette recoveries. A third down conversion incompletion by Lafayette QB Sean O'Malley
became an unexpected first down, thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that kept their drive alive. A 14-7 first quarter lead became 17 unanswered points, leading to a 24-14 deficit against the best defensive team in the Patriot League.
In this most important of football games for many of the Lehigh faithful, it seemed like they were losing it by shooting themselves in the foot.
Then halftime happened, and everything changed. More rain, and worse weather, did not deter Lehigh from their goal. And a couple of Rivalry legends were made in the process.Read more »
One aspect of the Lehigh game at Fordham that doesn't get a lot of attention is that
the last time the Mountain Hawks went to the Bronx and came away with a win was in 2011.
Even before RB Chase Edmonds
then broke a Patriot League single-game rushing record against Lehigh in their 59-42 win in 2015 - a record he later broke against Lafayette - Lehigh lost a 52-34 shootout in the Bronx in 2013 as well. In the last two games in the Bronx against Fordham, Lehigh has allowed a 50-burger, as they say, two straight games.
"Fordham racked up 630 yards of offense on the Mountain Hawk defense and cracked 50 points on Lehigh's D, the first time that happened since 2007," I wrote about that 2013 game.
"It wasn't only Fordham's third-ever win against the Mountain Hawks - it was also Lehigh's first regular season road loss since 2010, when Lehigh traveled to New Hampshire and lost 31-10."
That was only marginally as painful as the 2015 game, which also happened to be the debut of junior QB Brad Mayes
after QB Nick Shafnisky
came out of the game after a late hit during a 2 point conversion.
Mayes very nearly rallied the Mountain Hawks to make it a one-score game, but a missed FG try ended the dream, cemented be a 75 yard touchdown run by - who else? - Chase Edmonds.Read more »
Spotlight On: DE Tyler Cavenas and NG Jimmy Mitchell
This past year, the NCAA mandated that two-a-day practices would no longer be allowed
, which naturally has changed the way Lehigh has been camping this August. "A single day may include a single, three-hour, on-field practice session and a walk-through. During walk-throughs, protective equipment such as helmets and pads can’t be worn, and contact is prohibited," the NCAA said.
“The guys like the new procedure, the new process we have in place here,” head coach Andy Coen said.
“The guys are more fresh not having the two-a-days. [Sunday] was the first day we went full pads and had live tackling and the kids were fired up about that. We didn’t do a lot, just enough to get our feet wet.”
With no contact during the two-hour walkthrough session, pads and contact are a more rare occurrence. To senior DE Tyler Cavenas
, though, what did that mean?
"I [still] feel like we can push ourselves," he told LehighSports.com. "It's weird, we have these walkthroughs now, but I think when we do go out, we'll be more intense out here and we'll be getting after it more. We're only going to be out here one practice a day, so we'll have to give it all we have."
Knowing Tyler, he does.Read more »
Maybe it was the choice of senior OL Brandon Short
as one of the student-athletes interviewed this Wednesday, or maybe it was the mention from junior DE Harrison Johnson
that this game could be your last.
This Lehigh football team clearly remembers September 21st, 2014, the last time the Mountain Hawks went to the Yale Bowl.
It is true that it wasn't the last time the Mountain Hawks played Yale. There's last year, too, that 27-12 dud
that Lehigh put up against the Bulldogs, too.
But the loss last year to Yale at Murray Goodman isn't the reason why senior QB Nick Shafnisky
is calling this another "motivational game". It's more about the 2014 game, and the lost season for Brandon Short.Read more »