Category Archives: Monmouth

Rebuilding the Swagger Won’t Be Easy, But It’s Been Done Before

I've been around Lehigh football a long time and I have seen a lot of different Lehigh football seasons.

For some Lehigh football teams, things seem to come easy.  Some teams would come into Murray Goodman Stadium, and the Mountain Hawks would seemingly win before the coin toss.  The opponent already had beaten themselves, intimidated - and all Lehigh would have to do is not do anything ridiculous, and all the home fans would go home happy.

Those types of games reminded me this weekend of the swagger someone like CB Deion Sanders had as a player.  How many NFL receivers beat themselves fifteen minutes before going onto the field because they knew Neon Deion would be on them?

It looks like the for the 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks, this will not be the case.  It was a season that started out like it would be one where things came easy, but that didn't happen.

For whatever reason, this team will have to earn it the hard way, and in so doing, have an opportunity in front of them.  For inspiration, we don't need to go with Neon Deion.  Instead, we can go with a different choice.
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Rebuilding the Swagger Won’t Be Easy, But It’s Been Done Before

I've been around Lehigh football a long time and I have seen a lot of different Lehigh football seasons.

For some Lehigh football teams, things seem to come easy.  Some teams would come into Murray Goodman Stadium, and the Mountain Hawks would seemingly win before the coin toss.  The opponent already had beaten themselves, intimidated - and all Lehigh would have to do is not do anything ridiculous, and all the home fans would go home happy.

Those types of games reminded me this weekend of the swagger someone like CB Deion Sanders had as a player.  How many NFL receivers beat themselves fifteen minutes before going onto the field because they knew Neon Deion would be on them?

It looks like the for the 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks, this will not be the case.  It was a season that started out like it would be one where things came easy, but that didn't happen.

For whatever reason, this team will have to earn it the hard way, and in so doing, have an opportunity in front of them.  For inspiration, we don't need to go with Neon Deion.  Instead, we can go with a different choice.
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Monmouth Beats Up Lehigh And Takes Their Lunch Money, Win 46-27

(Photo Credit: Monmouth Athletics)

Football is a physical game, and it requires a tremendous amount of strength to line up, play after play, to push people around down after down.

As a result football games sometimes can evolve into contests where the teams push each other around, and such games can end up where one team gets worn down and the other pulls away for a big victory.

That's what happened this weekend at Monmouth.

The Hawks started out behind the eight-ball early, falling behind by two scores, and then rallying to take a 27-21 lead relatively early in the third quarter.  But the physical beating, slowly and surely, took its toll, eventually knocking the offense out of kilter and the pushing the defense out of the way for their powerful running game.  In the end, Lehigh only could be punched in the mouth so many times, and fell, 46-27.

It was an especially hard loss to take because this isn't how the 2017 season was supposed to happen.

"The tougher man wins," head coach Andy Coen said after the game.  "They were a lot tougher and more physical than we were."
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QUICK RECAP: A Tough Gut Punch To the Mountain Hawks, A 46-27 Defeat to Monmouth

It pretty much started with RB Pete Guerrerio's 70 yard kickoff to open the game, and continued throughout a bruising, physical football game.

Lehigh would battle back from a 14-0 deficit to take the lead at halftime, but ultimately surrendered the lead as a physical beating took its toll and Monmouth got 4 straight rushing touchdowns, which allowed them to bowl their way to a 46-27 win over the Mountain Hawks.

Mayes would eventually find senior WR Troy Pelletier to break Lehigh's all-time receptions record with 238, but it had to be a bitter milestone to reach as the Mountain Hawks were held to 6 points - a touchdown, and a missed extra point - in the second half.

"Basically, they were a better football team today," a crestfallen Andy Coen said afterwards.  "They want to run the ball, and chew up the clock, and that was very evident here today, that's why they were the better team.  We did a very poor job of 1st downs, we did a very poor job on 3rd down conversions - we didn't get it done.  And to make it real embarrassing at the end, the quarterback fumbles right when we're trying to get back into it a little bit, and throw the interception in the end zone."

Mayes didn't turn over the ball until late in the game, but both were costly when the Mountain Hawks were trying to get back in it.  He'd still throw 3 touchdown passes, one a rifle to Pelletier, and a second highlight reel-like grab to senior WR Gatlin Casey, but it wouldn't be enough.

Junior WR Luke Christano would be the reason for those six points in the second half, where, for the second straight week, he had a highlight-reel catch of a throw over the middle by junior QB Brad Mayes for a 54 yard touchdown strike.

But Monmouth registered 351 yards rushing and scored 6 rushing touchdowns of 6, 71, 8, 4, 31, and 4 yards.  Three of them came from RB Devell Jones, who was the goal line vulture with 3 scores and 28 yards rushing, while Pete Guerrerio and RB Michel Jolly added 3 more touchdowns with a variety of big plays.

212 of Monmouth's 351 rushing yards came in the second half, and Monmouth won the time of possession battle 32:12 to 27:48.

"Lehigh's a fine football team, we knew it was going to be a tough game, a four-quarter football game," Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan said afterwards.  "We we were preparing our guys all week for that sort of game, and we came out fast, just like we wanted to.  After Lehigh scored first in the second half, I was happy about the way that our team responded, we answered that and from that point on we put the pedal to the metal a little bit."

Tune in later for a longer recap and more post-game reaction.

Lehigh at Monmouth Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Can Monmouth Beat Lehigh for the 1st Time at Home?

(Photo Credit: Asbury Park Press)

Thanks to Monmouth's game notes and the Asbury Park Press, which is the source of all of this research.

One thing you might want to consider bringing with you to the game on Saturday is clothes to donate.

"At today's football game against Lehigh and tonight's men's soccer game against UMBC members of the Monmouth athletics community will be collecting clothing to be sent to those affected by Hurricane Harvey," Monmouth's game preview says.

It can seem like one is powerless with hurricane destruction in Houston and potential hurricane destruction in Florida, but contributions like this can help make a difference.


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Lehigh At Monmouth Game Narratives: Cleaning Things Up For Business Trip To West Long Branch

It was days later, and head coach Andy Coen was still frustrated with last week's loss.

That was the takeaway from the two pieces that came out in the local media this week, one from Lehigh Sports Central, and the other from Keith Groller of The Morning Call.

"Still a lot of frustration there," he told Steve Degler.  "You know there are going to be some mistakes in that first game, but veteran guys, new guys, we made too many mistakes, and gave Villanova too many opportunities.  It was very tough to take."

In last week's post game press conference, and this week's media meeting, the theme was "cleaning up the mistakes".

“We’re really excited and want to put that first ‘W’ in the win column,” junior LB Matt Butler said. “We left a few plays on the field against Villanova; plays we’d like to have back. We had a few mental errors that cost us. We need to clean that up this week.”

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Lehigh At Monmouth Game Preview: Revenge for the First Half Shutout


The word "Monmouth" last season became a sort-of shorthand for a humbling experience, a game that should have gone much different than it actually did.

It was usually used in the context of:

"Don't pull another Monmouth."

"Lehigh's been doing pretty great - but they have to be careful not to have another Monmouth."

The memory of last year's loss to the Jersey Hawks stung particularly hard, because it had ramifications that slowed the recognition of Lehigh as a legitimate title contender.  Wile their loss last season wasn't stated as a reason why the Mountain Hawks didn't earn a home game in the FCS Playoffs, it was the one, big blemish on Lehigh's record that may have prevented them from being in consideration for a possible seed (and, by extension, at least one home game).

And yet, last year's Monmouth loss also was important in that the loss in that first game of the year seemed to galvanize the Mountain Hawks, sending a potent message that winning every game was going to be hard and nothing was going to come easy.  The lessons learned from that game carried through the season, and, in a way, set up everything good that was to come.

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Know Your 2017 Opponents: Monmouth

Monmouth and Lehigh have a lot more in common than meets the eye.

They don't share a conference - the Mountain Hawks are in the Patriot League in all sports, while the Jersey Hawks (my name for Monmouth's mascot) compete in the Big South in football, and the MAAC in all other sports.

But athletically, in terms of everything from enrollment, participation to overall athletic department spending, Monmouth and Lehigh are like peas in a pod.  They are both universities; they both have between 4,000 and 5,000 undergrads; and the size of their athletic departments are similar as well.

The Mountain Hawks and the Jersey Hawks have also been frequent opponents of the other in football and men's basketball as well.  Since 2010, Lehigh has played Monmouth twice in men's basketball and five times on the gridiron.  (Recently, it was announced that Monmouth's hoop squad and their wacky bench antics will be headed to Stabler this fall to play Lehigh hoops as well.)

But in football the last few years, Lehigh's games against Monmouth have proven a liability to their national stature.  That's because they've lost their last two games against the Jersey Hawks, and while their loss last season wasn't stated as a reason why the Mountain Hawks didn't earn a home game in the FCS Playoffs, it was the one, big blemish on Lehigh's record that may have prevented them from being in consideration for a possible seed (and, by extension, at least one home game).
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Lehigh At Georgetown Narrative Street: Avoiding The Same Fate As Monmouth

Although you see big, bright smiles on the faces of senior CB Brandon Leaks and senior WR Trevor Soccaras when talking about the performance over the last four football games, their focus has understandably been on Georgetown and guarding against a possible letdown.

Such thought is undeniably warranted, especially if they caught the college football scores from yesterday.

There was only one college football game being contested Thursday night, which was Monmouth vs. Presbyterian.

The Hawks, who already beat Lehigh on opening weekend and also beat Fordham last weekend, had a short week to prepare for their Thursday game.  But few people thought they would struggle against 1-4 Big South leaguemate Presbyterian, who had already lost to a Division II school (Florida Tech).

Instead, the classic letdown game happened - a 17-13 loss that almost certainly doomed any chance Monmouth has to not only win the Big South, but also to qualify for any sort of at-large postseason berth.


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