Category Archives: Laquan Lambert

2016 Season In Review: Mountain Hawks Complete Five Year Trek To Patriot League Championship

Kids come to play football at Lehigh because they want their games to matter.

They come to Lehigh willing to sacrifice so much, because they want to win games, of course, but they also play the game in order to win championships - Patriot League Championships.

They want those rings.

Sure, they get to square off against the Villanova's, James Madison's and New Hampshire's of the FCS world to measure themselves against the best of their division.  And they get to participate in the nation's most played Rivalry in all of college football, putting them in an elite club of players and into college football history.

All of those things are very important, of course, and allow them great playing memories and, in the case of the Lafayette game, perennial bragging rights.  

But 2015's heartbreak in Hamilton, the 49-42 loss to Colgate, really hurt on a fundamental level for this Lehigh team.  When that senior class was recruited, one of the things that is a part of the deal is that the Mountain Hawks have won Patriot League championships at least once in every four year span.  Until, that is, the class of 2016, though they came agonizingly close several times.

That disappointment seemed to inform this year's team, which also had a couple of fifth-year seniors in senior WR Derek Knott and senior ROV Laquan Lambert, that so many of last year's team didn't get the chance at the championship rings that they ended up earning this season.  

It informed them all the way to a championship, and rings.
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Lehigh At New Hampshire Game Narrative Street: UNH Remembers Last Year’s Loss To Colgate

In order to understand how UNH will be looking at this weekend's game against Lehigh, you need to go back to the narrative of last week.

And then, you need to go back to the narrative from last year.

But first, let's start with last week, where the Wildcats were not only battling their Rival Maine in the "Battle for the Brice/Cowell Musket", they were battling to keep their playoff dreams alive.

The Wildcats, who had qualified for the FCS playoffs for twelve consecutive years, had fallen behind their bitter Rivals Maine, 14-7 at halftime.

With both teams at 6-4. it must have had the feel of a playoff game as well as a Rivalry game.  The winner would likely have a good shot at a playoff game; the loser would likely be out.

And the starter, sophomore QB Trevor Knight, was out of the game with a foot injury.  The backup, senior QB Adam Riese, would have to be the trigger guy to rally the Wildcats to the win.
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Lehigh at New Hampshire Playoff Preview: The Granite State’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams

"The Engineer football team once again showed their supremacy over the Yankee Conference leaders by defeating the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats, 16-3," read the October 26th edition of The Brown and White in 1979.

LB Jim McCormick intercepted a UNH pass early in the game, and returned it to the Wildcat 4, setting up an early touchdown.  After that, the Engineer defense would take over, crushing UNH's offense the rest of the way.

That would be the last time Lehigh has won at Cowell Stadium - 1979, a year where Lehigh was one of four teams in the I-AA playoffs and made it to the championship, ultimately falling to Eastern Kentucky in the finals.

So much has changed since then.  The I-AA playoffs have been renamed the FCS playoffs, and not have 24 teams instead of 4.  The Yankee Conference essentially was renamed to the Atlantic 10 Football Conference and now the CAA football conference, morphing from a Northeastern-based conference to one whose center of gravity is Virginia.  New Hampshire went from a championship contender to a perennial FCS playoff powerhouse, seemingly guaranteed a slot in the playoffs every year.

But what hasn't changed much for Lehigh over the course of these last thirty-plus years is that Cowell Stadium has been Lehigh's boulevard of broken dreams.  The Mountain Hawks beat UNH in Bethlehem in 2013, it is true.  But up in the Granite State, it's been a different story.  Since that epic 1979 win, Lehigh has been 0-7 up there, and not one of the games have been close.
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Fate Determined That Lehigh Would Crush The Sweet Dreams Of Their Rival Lafayette, 45-21

The parties raged on in the parking garage next to Fisher Field, which were packed with Lafayette fans eager to enjoy a party with plenty of great food and copious drinks.

The tiny businesses below Fisher Field, the small bits of capitalism next to the concrete husks of factory jobs that have left ages ago, had plenty of visiting Lehigh fans, enjoying the tailgates and ready to invade the stadium that they hadn't seen in four years.

In the line coming into the stadium, a silent protest of hundreds of Lafayette students clad in black, handing out a political statement on a piece of paper and showing some signs that were up seemingly to simply show that these people exist, and are not happy.

Somewhere in this mix of people escaping, people expressing and people denying, a football game was played, one that matched an 8-2 team that was headed to the national stage and the FCS playoffs, the other a 2-8 squad that had their fans questioning the tenure of their head coach.

It was one of the strangest disconnect of emotions that I've ever seen in a Rivalry game, one where the outcome, a 45-21 victory by the Brown and White, was almost expected by everyone going through the crowded gates at Fisher Field.

There was plenty to celebrate - for one side, anyway.
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QUICK RECAP: Lehigh Dominates The Leopards In A 45-21 Rivalry Win

In the most-played college football Rivalry, there was a mild concern of complacency on the Lehigh side.

Would they be able to manage the emotions of the Rivalry after a bye week?  Would they come out flat, and let 2-8 Lafayette take away their chance at an outright Patriot League championship, an undefeated Patriot League record, and a 9-2 regular season mark?

The Mountain Hawks proved resoundingly that fans needn't have worried.

Lehigh rolled to a 17-0 lead before Lafayette connected on a big pass play, then kept the foot on the gas to get to a 45-7 lead before starting to put in the second stringers.

It was pretty telling that the biggest outpouring of emotion during the game happened when Lehigh's marching band, the Marching 97, marched off Lafayette's pep band after they went over on their time to play.  It was that sort of day for a joyous Lehigh victory.
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#Rivalry152 Senior Spotlight

Thought I'd put together this multimedia "presentation" of all the seniors that will be playing in #Rivalry152 tomorrow.  All the content here, pictures, videos, etc. are mostly courtesy of LehighSports.com, The Morning Call, Lehigh Valley Live, and The Brown and White.

If nothing else it will go you something to do while waiting for tomorrow's game.

Enjoy.

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Earning A Championship Is Hard, But Lehigh Does So In 20-13 War Against Bucknell

When Lehigh players, coaches and fans went to bed on Friday night, they probably had visions of the Mountain Hawks' powerful offense attacking, and overwhelming, Bucknell to coast to a share of a Patriot League Championship and the conference's FCS Playoff bid.

About ten minutes into the game, the 7,049 fans in attendance had probably figured out that if Lehigh was going to win a championship, it wasn't going to be won like that.

It was going to have to be earned.  It was going to have to be grabbed from Bucknell, smashing them in the mouth the same way they were smashing us.

It cannot be emphasized enough how Lehigh had to earn every single inch of this Patriot League victory, how not easy this win really was.

How the Mountain Hawks fell behind, clawed and scratched back to get the lead.  How they had to stop the Bison stampede at key spots, get crucial turnovers, and fire up critical, difficult field goals by sophomore PK Ed Mish.  Even extra points, normally considered automatic, took on new dramatic tension.

The offense got punished on every single play up until the final couple of victory formations.  But in the end, it was not only a victory, but a victory of the most beautiful, rare sort - the type of win that officially buries the past.

"Sometimes the hardest ones are the ones you enjoy the most," Coen said. "When you're winning a championship, it should be hard. Bucknell made it hard on us today, but we're the ones with the trophy and I can't be more proud of a group of guys than I am of these guys."

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Raindrops Can’t Slow Down Lehigh, Defeat Holy Cross 46-14

(Photo Credit: Jay Anderson/Worcester Telegram)

It was a day where even when things went wrong they went right for the Mountain Hawks.

It was early in the second quarter, deadlocked at 7.  Sophomore QB Brad Mayes, picked the starter as senior QB Nick Shanfisky would be the backup to let his injured leg continue to heal, would get a drive going with an 18 yard pass to junior WR Troy Pelletier.  Two plays later, sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone would run a counter play left, escape a few tackles, and surge for a 28 yard run into Holy Cross territory.

You could feel some momentum building as Mayes would connect on a 4th and 7 to Pelletier to get into the Holy Cross red zone, and again when he would rifle a ball to junior WR Gatlin Casey over the middle.  There was even more when sophomore RB Micco Brisker would keep his legs moving - and his offensive line, pushing - until he reached the end zone.

Up 13-7, on the extra point Shafnisky, who holds during extra points, got a low snap, and scrolled right.  Looking up, he saw junior DE Tyler Cavenas, wide open in the end zone, waving his hands.  To salvage the free shot at points, he lofted the ball to Tyler - and he came down with the ball.

It ended up a very good day for the Mountain Hawks, where positive thing after positive thing kept happening for the Mountain Hawks, some planned, some unplanned.  Despite a game where weather seemed like it might make for a tough go, Lehigh wasn't slowed down at all in their 46-14 win.
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LFN Season Preview: Searching For Lehigh Defensive Identity

There is one real adage when it comes to defensive football: if you sit around and wait for something bad to happen, it probably will.

This season, the Lehigh Mountain Hawk defense knows it can't afford to hang back and let bad things happen.

The 2015 Lehigh defense was a unit that saw flashes of strong play - just not enough of them.

And in 2016, this unit knows that the statistics from last year indicate a unit that needs to get better.

Most of all the identity of this defense needs to be formed.

In most places, we know the athletes.  We know they have flashes of great play.  The question that needs to be answered: what will its identity be?
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Lehigh Picked Tied for 3rd At Patriot League Media Day, Eager To Get To Work

The Patriot League officially kicked off the 2016 football season with football media day at the Green Pond Country Club, and Lehigh was picked in a tie for 3rd.  Colgate was picked 1, Fordham was picked 2, and tied with the Mountain Hawks was Holy Cross at 3.

Senior OL Zach Duffy and senior LB Laquan Lambert, were asked what they thought of the preseason pick.

In other years, you might have gotten a bit of a chest-thumping response, but this year's group was notable in the calm way they answered the questions.

"I think that's fair," Zach said.  "It's where we finished last year, and we haven't proved much yet.  We haven't achieved our goals yet.  I wouldn't have wanted to be picked any higher since we haven't earned it."

"We have high expectations on ourselves," Laquan added.  "This fuels the fire for us.  We're just going to have to take it day by day if we want to win a championship."

No cries of disrespect - just a quiet sense of needing to return to work, which seems to summarize fairly well the attitude I sensed from the Lehigh table at Media Day.  "Workmanlike."


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