Category Archives: Penn

Know Your 2017 Opponents: Penn

Last season, there were two iconic games that set the tone for the Lehigh football season - one a tough loss, the other a tough victory.

The first iconic moment was simply called "the Monmouth game" - the season-opening game where the Mountain Hawks started out slow, allowed the other Hawks to build up a double-digit lead, and after a furious comeback, Lehigh came up just short.  Lehigh had multiple opportunities to seize control - but didn't.

It threatened to become the narrative that defined the season - that is, until the second iconic game, which was simply called "the Penn game", and also broke down to a specific moment - the end of the first half.
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Lehigh 49, Penn 28 Postgame Thoughts: Both Sides Of Anthem Protests Need To Abandon Empty Gestures And Do Something Real

(Photo Credit: Thomas Munson/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

The firestorm made its way to Franklin Field.

Few football fans may noticed it as the game was about to start, including myself.  I wasn't focused on the cheerleading team during the national anthem, nor was anyone else that I confer with - I was a bit more preoccupied whether Lehigh was going to open the season 0-3.

But sometime on Monday, The Daily Pennsylvanian published a short piece detailing the planned protest event, done by Alexus Bazen and Deena Char.

It is the same act that 49ers backup QB Colin Kaepernick and many, many other NFL players have performed during the national anthem during the preseason and first weeks of the season - kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem, and raising a fist.  It's an act meant to inflame and to get them noticed, and it did.

Why, though?

The "why" can and should be asked on both sides of the protest, those that find solidarity with it and those that are angered by it.

Let's talk about it.
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With 0.3 Left In First Half, Lehigh Ties Game, Then Never Looks Back, Beats Penn 49-28

(Photo Credits: Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Athletics)

Penn QB Alek Torgerson and the Penn offense had torn through the Lehigh defense like a hot knife through butter.  Again.

Nearing the end of the first half, the Huntington Beach, CA native lined up on a 4th and 1 play in the Lehigh red zone.  Faking the handoff to RB Tre Solomon, he instead took it himself, running through an enormous hole on the left side of the line for a 8 yard touchdown run.

The touchdown and extra point put Penn back ahead, 28-21, but with 1:14 left, and three timeouts, it wasn't a question whether Lehigh was going to try to drive the length of the field to tie up the game, or at least try to cut the deficit a little.  Head coach Andy Coen was going to try.  Definitely.

So the experienced senior QB Nick Shafnisky took the field, knowing what needed to be done - the same thing that Lehigh's offense had already done three times in the same half - drive the length of the field and make something happen.

But that was just it; the fans were in the stands, doubting.  They had seen this Lehigh team twice this year already, on the brink of turning things around, but coming up short.  All this Lehigh team needed was a stop against Monmouth, they said.  Nope.  All the Mountain Hawks needed was to convert that 4th down and 10 against Villanova, they said.  They got eight and a half yards.  

They had seen this last season, too.  Lehigh had the ball first and goal against Colgate, ready to tie the game near the end of a game that would have given them a chance at a Patriot League championship.  On 4th down, a few yards from the goalline, the pass would be batted down.  The Raiders won, clinching at least a share of the Patriot League championship.

Why should this critical drive be any different?  Why wouldn't it also be a dollar short, like we had seen before?

The funny thing is, it wouldn't be a dollar short, a stop short, a yard short, a second short.  It would get exactly the right number of yards and, with 0.3 seconds left, either a touchdown or nothing the result, the Lehigh offense did not end up getting stopped short, and in so doing seemed to do a lot more than simply tie the game.

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Lehigh At Penn Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Can Lehigh Win At Franklin Field?

We break down the Penn game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

It sometimes is tough for coaches and media types alike to preview teams that haven't played a single down, and with the volume of Ivy League opponents Lehigh and other members of the Patriot League face, the Mountain Hawks get more than their fair share.

Last season, much was made of the fact that head coach Ray Priore and a huge hunk of brand-new staff were competing together in their very first college football game together, a fact that unquestionably helped Lehigh out in a 42-21 win over the Quakers.

This year, though, to some degree the tables are turned.

With a full year under their belts - and an Ivy League championship year, at that - the Quakers will be not at all like the inexperienced bunch that Lehigh played last year.  They've had one year in the system, one year knowing the expectations, one year going through the drills.

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Lehigh At Penn Narrative Street: The Franklin Field Hex

Saturday's game is a personal landmark for head coach Andy Coen: it marks the first time he's coached a Lehigh team at Penn since he was hired there from Al Bagnoli's staff back in December of 2005.

He'll be facing off against another former Bagnoli assistant coach, Ray Priore, who was a defensive coordinator at Penn when Andy was an offensive coordinator there.

Franklin Field, then, becomes one of the big #NarrativeStreet storylines going into Saturday, and for Lehigh, not a good reason.

Since 1895, when the enormous field was built in downtown Philadelphia, Lehigh has won exactly four times at the iconic venue, and the overall Brown and White record there is 4-28.  Along the way, among the many losses by Lehigh there, came one recent one in particular that snapped a long Lehigh regular-season winning streak.
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Lehigh At Penn Game Preview: "Our Kids Remember", Priore Says, That They "Tattooed Us Real Good"

(Photo Credit: Pat Goodridge/Daily Pennsylvanian)

"[We're] trying not to over-plan for Lehigh," Penn head coach Ray Priore said in his first Penn coaches' teleconference of the year.  "And the kids are very focused.  We got off to last years' start 1-3, our first loss was to Lehigh, and they tattooed us pretty good up there, so our kids remember that..."

If there was any doubt that the Penn players had somehow forgotten the way they kicked off the Ray Priore era - that they had forgotten that humbling beginning to their Ivy League championship season from last year - any doubt of that was easily erased by the easy way that "so our kids remember that" uttered from Priore's lips at the press conference.

College football head coaches generally don't like their opponents lying in wait for them for months upon months upon months.  They prefer to sneak into town competing as lightly-regarded underdogs, preferably playing a "scrappy, fundamental game" (whatever that means), and escaping town with a character-building win and then heading home on the bus.

Head coach Andy Coen and the rest of the Mountain Hawks will definitely not have that luxury heading down to Franklin field this weekend.  They're going to have a riled-up, laying-in-wait Quaker team that are favored to repeat as Ivy League champions.

"Our kids remember that."


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Know Your 2016 Opponents: Penn

We continue the series "Know Your 2016 Opponents" a mere 9 (!) days away from the opening of the 2016 football season.

This might be a good time, for your reading pleasure, to remind you that these are modified with some more awesome Lehigh information from the originals over at The College Sports Journal.

It's also a good time to remind you that I already have written a bunch of these:

Bucknell
Georgetown
Fordham
Holy Cross
Lafayette
Princeton
Yale

To come: Colgate, Villanova, and, of course Monmouth, the season opener on September 3rd.  And also, this preview of Penn.  Below the flip.
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2016 Lehigh Football Schedule Features Every Nearby FCS Rival You Can Think Of

As we hit the 92 day mark before the 2016 Lehigh football season officially starts, it's time to take a look at the overall schedule - and opponents - the Mountain Hawks will be facing.

Every Lehigh football fan knows that their Rival of Rivals, Lafayette, is only 18 miles away from Bethlehem.

What fans may not know is that, by drawing a circle around Lehigh on Google Maps, you can surround seven of the Mountain Hawks eleven 2016 opponents.  (The site NCAA Savant has an interactive, zoomable map that shows the schools quite clearly.)

The only FCS programs within the circle that Lehigh doesn't play are Delaware, Wagner, and Columbia.

Lehigh will be hosting Monmouth, Bucknell, Fordham, and Princeton, all of whose fan bases are within two and a half hour's drive, and will have "road trips" to Penn, Villanova, and Lafayette, which couldn't be easier for Lehigh football fans.

However, if you wanted to earn frequent flyer miles supporting Lehigh football, you had better hope the Mountain Hawks make the FCS playoffs.
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Your Lehigh Bye Week Viewing Guide

Did you think you would get off easy on watching college football simply because it's Lehigh's bye week?

First of all, it gives you time to catch up on watching ESPN's College Football Gameday, where you can see the Lehigh flag that frequently makes an appearance on the program.  (Who knows?  Perhaps Gameday will head to Lehigh for the Fordham game next weekend, or maybe perhaps #Rivalry151 in November.)

There's also so good opportunities to scout out Lehigh's upcoming opponents in Patriot League action.  Three Patriot League games are taking place at lunchtime, and another is happening at 3:30 PM.

If you receive the CBS Sports Network, you can see whether Bucknell will make it a perfect Patriot League sweep over Army-West Point in the 2015 football season.  The Bison face off against the Cadets at noon, and if you don't have it available on TV, it can be seen via subscription from Army's website.  In much of the Lehigh metro area, too, the game can be heard on AM 770 WABC New York as well (which is how I will be catching part of the game).

At 1:00 PM there are two critical Patriot League games on at the same time:  Colgate at Georgetown and Holy Cross at Fordham.  Both are streaming on the Patriot League Digital Network.

http://campusinsiders.com/network/patriot_league/live

I'm probably going to be out when these games are on, so their digital archive will likely be my friend.  Besides, I need to figure out how Lehigh is going to stop Fordham RB Chase Edmonds next weekend, right?

I'm hoping to be home in time to catch Harvard at Lafayette at 3:30, which will also be on the Patriot League Digital Network (and also available by broadcast on WPBH-60 locally in the Lehigh Valley).

http://campusinsiders.com/network/patriot_league/live

*****

There's a lot of interesting games on in the area on regular TV starting at 3:30 as well.

On ABC, Michigan State takes on Michigan in a huge, national game, while locally on the Big 10 Network Rutgers takes on Indiana as the Scarlet Knights hope to get back on track after losing their upset bid to the Spartans last week.

In the FCS world, at 3:30 former Lehigh opponent Yale plays an out-of-conference game at Maine of the CAA, which is available on Fox College Sports Atlantic on some cable systems.

Some over-the-air TV stations can also receive Villanova at Albany, a CAA matchup, as well.  Check your local listings.

If you can stream ESPN3, two really good FCS games are happening, South Dakota State at Youngstown State, and Penn at Columbia.  Penn is a former Lehigh opponent, and Columbia, fresh off a win over Wagner last weekend, will see head coach Al Bagnoli face off against the team he coached for decades.  You can get to these streams here.

At night, the two biggest area college football games will be on broadcast TV.  Notre Dame takes on USC, in a game with oodles of storylines, on NBC.  And Penn State takes on Ohio State on ABC.  Pretty sure that game will be on a lot of TV sets tonight.