Category Archives: Keith Sherman

Bucknell at Lehigh Game Preview: Reversing A Mountain Hawks Curse

Perhaps you've heard that the Cubs, managed by a Lafayette grad called Joe Maddon, broke their more than century old championship drought vs. the Cleveland Indians last night.

The Lehigh Mountain Hawks' championship drought isn't quite as long as that.

But if the Brown and White hope to raise the trophy at Murray Goodman Stadium this weekend, they'll need to break a mini-curse of their own.

It refers to the Mountain Hawks' inability over the last four years to win both Game 10 and Game 11 on the schedule, specifically during the last four years.

There have been years that Lehigh has needed Game 10 to have a chance to win the Patriot League, but haven't been able to get it done.  There have been other years where they've needed Game 11 to do so, and missed.

When Games 10 and 11 have title implications, and when Lehigh wins those games, they tend to be Patriot League champs.  When they lose one or the other, there tends to be the type of hurt that the Indians got to experience firsthand last night.

The Lehigh seniors almost certainly remember how that feels, on the potential last day of their playing careers at Murray Goodman Stadium.


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Season In Review: Great Accomplishments In A Rebuilding Year

(Photo Credit: Matt Smith/The Express-Times)

When I look back at Lehigh's football program over the last four years, I can't think of a single game that wasn't meaningful.

And when you think about this fact, that's a powerful thing to say about this group of seniors that will graduate this season.

So many programs have off years, years in between quality starting quarterbacks, years when players who find themselves in NFL training camps graduate, and the number of holes to fill are too great to compete for championships, let alone playoff spots.

But that didn't happen for this group of Lehigh athletes in 2013.

Despite needing to replace two players who found themselves in NFL training camps, WR Ryan Spadola and LB Billy Boyko, a starting quarterback, QB Michael Colvin, and an all-Patriot League secondary consisting of CB Bryan Andrews and S Billy O'Brien, the expectations on this year's team was great: Win the Patriot League.  Build off a 10-1 season.  Make the playoffs.

That's what going to Lehigh to play football is all about: Winning.  High expectations, on and off the field.  And despite the rebuilding, and despite the gigantic injury to QB Brandon Bialkowski, this team made every game meaningful.
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It’s Supposed To Suck, And It’s Supposed To Hurt

(Photo Credit: Kevin Mingora/Morning Call)

"You didn't cry or anything when Lehigh lost this weekend, did you?"

That was the greeting I got when I came back into the office (from another Lehigh football fan, interestingly) this Monday, as if he knew that I would be taking the loss this weekend especially hard.

I did not cry.  But I did hurt.  And I know not a few men that I respect that I know cried on Saturday.

This is probably not a revelation to most people who know me through this writing vehicle or in person, but yes, I took the loss hard.

Believe me, if you saw my wife and son recently, they'd probably tell you that I was not a pleasant person to be in the car with on Saturday.  Or Sunday.  Or Monday.

The truth is, I take every loss hard, and losses to what is the biggest rival in football, Lafayette, hurt especially hard.  It is an occupational hazard of caring too much about a sports team.

To me, losses to Lafayette are supposed to suck.  To me, losses to Lafayette are supposed to hurt.  It's the very nature of the thing, winning and losing.

And for me, I guess, it sucks more than most of my friends and acquaintances.  I have an inability to put it behind me in an evening, or even a weekend, even though I put in a good front, I think, to friends and family.

Most people move on pretty quickly, especially in this era of social media and distractions.  In a way, I envy them, but in another way I don't.
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Lafayette Erases Five Years of Frustration, Beats Rivals Lehigh 50-38

On the third play of scrimmage, Lafayette freshman QB Drew Reed fumbled the ball off a bad snap.

The ball squirted loose from the line - where a Lehigh player might have fallen on it - and instead nudged in the direction of junior RB Ross Scheuerman, who found himself with the ball in his hands, and, on the broken goal line play, wide open space to get into the end zone.

It was that type of day for the Mountain Hawks - a day when five years of Rivalry frustrations, five years of balls bouncing the wrong way, and five years of Lehigh victories came crashing to an end.

It was a game where Lehigh never led.  It was a game when the Mountain Hawks came close to coming back - and clearly believing that it could, and would, happen.  But it wasn't meant to be, as Lafayette took home all the marbles on Saturday - the Patriot League Trophy, the Patriot League championship and autobid, and the win over Lehigh that the players, and the many people that follow the Lafayette football program, have been hungering for the last five years.
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Before Looking Ahead, A Peek At Lehigh’s "Achievements"

(Photo Credit: Bob Cornell/Colgate Sports Information via the Morning Call)

There will be an entire week to get ready for the 149th meeting between Lehigh and a certain school from Easton.

But it's worth taking a tiny peek back at this weekend's game - just a tiny one - to see how far this team has come.

This Lehigh team has gone through a multitude of challenges this season, on the field and off.

And it's a true "achievement", no matter what happens this Saturday, that this team is in a position to win the Patriot League the final weekend of the year.
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Lehigh Avenges Last Year’s Loss to Colgate in Spectacular Fashion, 31-14

Every single Lehigh player remembered.

They remembered the chaos on the field last year at Murray Goodman Stadium, when Colgate beat Lehigh and celebrated on their field, Lehigh's field, after their championship win.

They remembered the team photos.  The hats.  The championship trophy.  The championship picture.  In their house.

And they remembered that they didn't want to see that again this season.

For the second straight week, senior RB Keith Sherman ran over a Patriot League opponent.  For the second time in two must-win games, Lehigh won a game they had to have to keep their Patriot League title and playoff hopes alive.

But up in Hamilton, it wasn't a time of whooping and hollering after the game.

It was a line and a postgame handshake - in other words, business.  And Lehigh, in their most complete defensive performance of the season, got their business done in very impressive fashion.
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Will "Losing" Help Lehigh Win Another Patriot League Title?

(Photo Credit: Chris Shipley/Special to the Morning Call)

There's no doubt about the fact that it was a terrific day for Lehigh football on Saturday.

For the only the second time this year, the Mountain Hawks never trailed, and the many questions that surrounded the team after the loss to Bucknell were, in large part, answered.

But I also heard something interesting, too, in several conversations with fans.

It's the idea that Lehigh's "losing" to Bucknell was the perfect thing to happen to this team at this time.
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Can You Dig It? Shaf Helps Lehigh Dominate Holy Cross, 38-20

If you went into Murray Goodman Stadium and said you knew exactly what to expect from this Lehigh Mountain Hawks team, you were lying.

Everyone involved with the Mountain Hawks football program had seen, or heard about, the loss to Bucknell.

If they had sharp eyes, too, they saw the former starting quarterback, Brandon Bialkowski, on the sidelines in a jacket, his arm immobilized so his collarbone can heal.

You had to go back a long way to find a Lehigh team with this much uncertainty, with this much at stake, with three games left.

And in this environment, this Mountain Hawk team responded.

The Mountain Hawks would never trail in this game, though the Crusaders would tie the game twice, at 7-7 and 13-13.  But then, after filling in permanently after what seemed to be a rib injury to junior QB Matt McHale, freshman QB Nick "Shaf" Shafnisky came into the game and guided Lehigh on three touchdown drives in a convincing 38-20 victory.
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From Dream to "Nightmare" In Three Hours on Saturday

I didn't get much sleep this week.

And when I did get sleep, I had this "nightmare", which I swear on my grandmother's grave is what I had pass through my head this week.

It was a vision of some office - nobody's office, really, just the type of sunny, airy office that only exists in the world of dreams.

In it were Lehigh head coach Andy Coen, offensive coordinator Dave Cecchini, and myself.

Both men were grim.  There were going over game film of a blowout loss to Bucknell.

As each lowlight hit the computer monitor, coach Coen and coach Cecchini would just get angrier and angrier - and would look sideways at me, as if I, somehow, were really to blame.

What was kind of funny was that even though I'd had this psychic dream of Lehigh getting crushed by Bucknell this Saturday, I still didn't believe it could actually happen.

Waking up on Saturday, I saw no reason to believe that my dream would in any way be indicative of what would actually happen.  I actually talked myself out of it - chalking it up to stress, the job, the long season.  Lehigh will win, I told myself.  It's what always happens when Lehigh plays Bucknell.

After all, Lehigh was 6-1, No. 15 in the country, and had just played their best game of the season last weekend against Georgetown.  What could possibly go wrong?

Who are you going to believe, what you've been reading the last nine weeks, or some stupid "nightmare"?
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