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 »
We break down #Rivalry153 - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.
I have always felt like these Rivalry games are first and foremost about the seniors.
It seems like for the most part, it's the seniors who really answer the call and compete to their fullest potential in this bowl game at the end of the regular season. Guys like Lehigh QB Nick Shafnisky
last year, who won the MVP award, or Lafayette RB Ross Scheuerman
, who dominated a certain game in the Bronx that shall not be named.
When you take away The Rivalry, when you take away the emotions, when you take away the craziness, the energy - what do we have? When you look at the Xs and Os, what do you have?
Certainly, this game, like every Rivalry game, will be dictated and informed by emotion. You can count on the fact, as a Lehigh fan, that Lafayette will play out of their minds.
That shouldn't stop us, though, from looking over the Leopards and seeing what they're all about. They will put together a gameplan to come away with victory, and though Lafayette head coach John Garrett could very well take their entire playbook up until this point and throw it in the trash, and it's up to the Mountain Hawks to figure out a way to stop them.Read more »
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.Read more »