Category Archives: Zach Duffy

Pelletier, Casey, Mayes, And Lehigh Offense Put On A Show In 59-29 Loss To Stony Brook

(Photo Credit: Alec Turner c/o Lehigh Athletics)

For those that care about these things, Lehigh entered the first round FCS playoff matchup 21 1/2 point underdogs.

And if we're being fair, that was probably the right number.

The Seawolves were 9-2, nationally ranked with seven conference wins in the tough CAA and one of their losses coming to a very strong FBS team in South Florida.  In contrast, unranked Lehigh came into the game 5-6 and only were here because they upset Colgate 41-38 on the road and won enough Patriot League conference games to win the autobid.

Yet a young Lehigh team was game to put their best foot forward and to have a heroic sendoff for potential NFL prospect senior WR Troy Pelletier, and in that, the game was a rousing success.

With junior QB Brad Mayes expertly picking apart one of the top defenses in FCS, time after time he'd find Troy for reception after reception, each one highlighting his impressive skill set as an audition for the next level.

It wouldn't be enough to win the game, but it was enough to keep the Mountain Hawks within striking distance until the Seawolves would pull away in the 4th quarter.

It was also enough to establish Troy as the all-time greatest receiver in Patriot League history.
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Down by Double Digits, Halftime Speech Sparks Lehigh’s #Rivalry153 Rally As Lehigh Wins 38-31

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.
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#Rivalry153 Lehigh Senior Spotlight

Like I did last year, I compiled a list of a "greatest hits" of some of the published articles on all of the Lehigh football seniors. 

They are below the flip.

All of the players below are listed as seniors or 5th year players on the current Lehigh roster.  Some may choose to return for 5th year medical redshirts.

The articles that are clipped are from a variety of sources: The Brown and White, The Morning Call, and LehighSports.com.

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#Rivalry153 Game Preview: The Great – Yet Terrifying – Bowl Game To End the 2017 Regular Season

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.

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It All Will Come Down To 14 Days Of Being Locked In

After the Bucknell victory, senior OL Zach Duffy said something that cut through the entire 2017 Lehigh football season.

"We have 14 days to stay locked in and do whatever it takes to win another championship," he said to the team.

And it's true. 

It really doesn't matter what happened Week One, Week Five, or even last week.  When this Mountain Hawk team goes to bed, and wakes up again during the next six days, they are in the Patriot League Championship race.  If they win, and stay locked in for the next fourteen days and win two football games, they will win the Patriot League.

It will require being locked in for fourteen days.
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Lehigh At Colgate Media Pack (w/ Video): Looking For Positives

"We're looking for positives," Steve Degler of Lehigh Sports Central said several times.

And coach Andy Coen did mention a few positive things, like the play of junior RB Dominick Bragalone, and the improved play of Lehigh's defense.

But he also mentioned how important it was to "educate his players" about the rivalry Lehigh has with Colgate as well - how playing up in Hamilton is never easy and this game is a rivalry game.

"Next to the Lafayette rivalry, I look to Colgate next," Andy said.  "We have to educate our young players that this rivalry is a very, very tough one, and I know Colgate view themselves as the toughest guys going, and we need to prove they are tougher than they are."

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Lehigh At Wagner Media Pack (w/ Video): Mountain Hawks Aren’t Panicking Over Winless Start

The media in the run-up to the Wagner game has been more upbeat than one might think considering the Mountain Hawks' 0-4 start.

That's not to say that head coach Andy Coen is at all happy with how things have started, but his answers to this week's media questions were not what some fans may have expected.

“I’m disappointed, I’m not going to lie,” he told Keith Groller of The Morning Call. “But again, this is a funny game. It’s never easy. It’s hard to win a game. It really is. At times last year we made it look really, really easy. Right now, we’re making it look really hard.”

On Lehigh Sports Central this week, he said he felt like Lehigh was more competitive against Penn than they were against Yale.

"We just continue to make mistakes," Coen said.  "We got the ball first, and turned the ball away.. we've got to get away from all of that stuff, and start playing better football."
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Lehigh Position Analysis: Offensive Line

Spotlight On: Brandon Short and Zach Duffy

Somewhere after the end of the 2016 season, senior OL Brandon Short and senior OL Zach Duffy announced that they would be enrolling in graduate school at Lehigh and playing their final years of eligibility, which had to make offensive line coach Andy Merino and head coach Andy Coen high-five each other.  Short and Duffy, along with senior OL Tim O'Hara, gives the Mountain Hawks a rock-solid center and bookend tackles with loads of game experience that helped carve the way for Lehigh's astounding offense last year.
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Five Burning Questions For Lehigh Heading Into Preseason Camp

There's a pretty good chance that senior WR Troy Pelletier, who made the Patriot League's preseason all-Conference team and is on the Walter Payton Award watch list to start the year, will be the starter in the season opener vs. Villanova.

It's also not a headline that junior RB Dominick Bragalone, also on the Patriot League's preseason all-Conference team, is likely to -shocker! - be a starter on September 2nd.

But that doesn't mean that there still aren't plenty of questions as the Mountain Hawks enter into their fall training camp for fans to think about.
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Preseason Camp Starts Next Week, But Lehigh Student-Athletes Have Been Preparing All Summer

(Photo Credit: New Hampshire Union-Leader)

It's easy to tune in to college football coverage at the beginning of fall practices, to see the accolades like preseason all-America teams and preseason all-Conference teams and not think about all the hard work that has been put in to prepare for the upcoming season.

Try telling that to the family of senior WR Troy Pelletier, though.

"My family is in New Hampshire and my parents are able to make almost every game," he told me my email.  "[But] with my summer job and my commitment to the offseason workout program, I have only been able to spend four days at home since the past Christmas break."

Football players "appreciate the recognition" of preseason awards and nominations, senior OL Zach Duffy told me last week, but they also understand that most fans also don't see or appreciate the amount of work it takes to become the best football players they can be when there's no crowds, no reporters, and no crazy fans around.


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