Georgetown At Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: A Lehigh Show-Me Game

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

Like many college football fans, I was surprised to see Maryland start out the season strong with a 3-1 record.

Their lopsided loss to Ohio State has taken some of the shine of the Terps early season, but if they can scrape three more wins against the likes of Northwestern, Indiana and  Rutgers, they could be looking at a bowl bid and a successful, surprising season.  (After the game this weekend, Maryland takes on Northwestern at 3:30 PM on ESPN2, incidentally.)

It's easy to pull for the Terps if you're a Georgetown or Lehigh fan.

First, former Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo is special teams coordinator, tight ends coach and assistant head coach to Maryland skipper D.J. Durkin.  Lembo, a former Georgetown lineman, was head coach from 2001-2005, going 44-14 over that stretch and leading the Mountain Hawks to two Patriot League championships in 2001 and 2004.  He happened to also be skipper during Lehigh's last two home FCS playoff games at Murray Goodman Stadium as well: vs. Hofstra (2001, Win) and vs. James Madison (2004, Loss).

The second reason to pull for the Terps, though, is their kicker.

Terps PK Henry Darmstadter was recently profiled in The Washington Post as having taken a very unlikely path to Big 10 football: through a three year football odyssey with Georgetown.

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Georgetown At Lehigh Game Preview: Enough Was Enough

(Photo Credit: Morning Call)

"When’s enough, enough?"

Sometimes the game narratives can fall into something that seems like a cliche - the old halftime pep talk about "winning one for the Gipper", or something like that.  But this one feels different.

Head coach Andy Coen talked about it, and junior QB Brad Mayes talked about it - about Brad taking control of the locker room at halftime with a team full of long faces.

Going into that locker room, Brad had just before rallied on a broken play to fire a perfect pass to junior RB Dominick Bragalone to cut the two-touchdown deficit to one, and after a special teams touchdown for Colgate was called back on a penalty, the defense stopped Colgate cold to end the half.

But despite the momentum, gloom was still in the locker room.

“As a quarterback, you have to be a vocal leader," Brad told Keith Groller of The Morning Call this week.  "I’ve done it in the past when I was younger and in high school, and even when I played the past couple of years here, but I hadn’t done it until this year. We were just down seven. I didn’t understand the long faces and I basically said ‘When’s enough, enough?’ I said you guys have to hate losing as much as I do. We just had to go out and put forth the effort. We’re still a good football team. We just had to execute and it would work out, and it did.”

The Mountain Hawks then did enough to win the football game, and are hoping that they've said enough to losing any more games this season.  The first test to see if that comes to pass will come at home as Lehigh hosts Georgetown.

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LFN Midseason Report Card: All-Nighter Before Midterm Saves Passing Grade?

We've all been there, Lehigh fans.  I know I was as an undergrad.

You enter the mid-term needing something big to save a bad grade, so you work furiously, trying to catch up on months of the readings you should have been doing, going over homework you skipped for some good reason - that good reason escapes you now, of course - to try to ace the midterm that can pull your grade back up from the dead.

With copious amounts of coffee, you go over the readings, taking the notes you should have been taking all along.  You stay up all night to go over all the material, catching several catnaps during the morning.  You finally enter the classroom of the test - and you deliver the grade you needed.  You save your GPA, and you find yourself finally back on track - and then you collapse in a heap of bones on your bed.

OK, maybe the Colgate victory was not quite like that.

In a way, though, it feels like it - the win injects a huge measure of hope into a season that was pointed in the wrong direction, and allows Lehigh Nation to look at the midseason as a place to keep winning games and to possibly fight and claw their way to another Patriot League Championship.

LFN's midseason grades are below.
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In 41-38 Win Over Colgate, Lehigh Buries Memory Of Winless 1966 Season, And Gives Themselves Potential For More This Season

It was a very different time for Lehigh football, but in 1966, the Engineers started out the season 0-5, and had to travel up to Hamilton, New York to take on the Colgate Red Raiders.

"Lehigh faces its toughest opponent of the season tomorrow afternoon in the Red Raiders of Colgate, at Kerr Memorial Stadium in Hamilton, N.Y," the 1966 Brown and White preview read.

After their 21-15 loss to Colgate in 1966, the Engineers would fall to 0-6 and eventually finish 0-9 on the season, the last time Lehigh started a season 0-6 and the last time Lehigh would go winless in a season as well.

It was that sort of historic elephant that the 2017 Mountain Hawks had on their backs this Saturday, whether they realized it or not.

Had they lost to their Chenango Valley rival, they would have been the first Lehigh football team to go 0-6 in more than fifty years.  0-5 entering this game, ironically their sixth shot at a football victory would involve going to the same venue to play the same opponent they played fifty-one years ago trying to avoid a 0-6 start.

Turning around an 0-5 start could be one of the hardest jobs in football, especially against a hated conference rival, and especially in a place that has always been a difficult place for Lehigh to play.

And it wasn't easy.  The 2017 Mountain Hawks had help, both from some tough calls against Colgate and from some boneheaded penalties against the Raiders that were justified.

But this group of athletes achieved that goal that eluded the same goal of the Lehigh Engineers of 1966.  The football team playing this Saturday won a hard-fought 41-38 contest that maybe, just maybe, might have turned things around just in time.
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QUICK RECAP: Up By 3, Lehigh Throws Out The Numbers And Finds A Way To Win, Beats Coglate 41-38

It was Colgate 28, Lehigh 14 as the first half was coming to a close.  The Mountain Hawks had the ball, but the pall over Lehigh fans everywhere was very evident - "here we go again," most seemed to be thinking.

You couldn't blame fans necessarily for thinking that way, of course.  The Mountain Hawks hadn't found out yet this year how to pull out a game like this, and normally, a two-touchdown deficit to Colgate feels like a four-touchdown deficit, the way they run the ball and gradually crush the spirit of opposing teams.

Driving and scrambling - somewhat of a broken play - junior QB Brad Mayes found junior RB Dominick Bragalone downfield with a big 35 yard touchdown pass, cutting the deficit to 28-21.

And then, gradually, over the course of a half of football, Lehigh put mistakes behind them just as the uncharacteristic mistakes by Colgate seemed to mount.  One Colgate touchdown would be called back.  Then another.  And Lehigh would battle back to tie the game twice, fall behind by a field goal with 5 minutes to play, and then score the winning touchdown and get a game's only turnover at the exact right time to preserve the win.

Somewhere, Al "Just Win, Baby" Davis was smiling.
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How Will I Watch Lehigh at Colgate This Afternoon?

Not headed to the the frozen tundra this afternoon to catch the Lehigh/Colgate rivalry?

OK.  I do sort-of understand.  My sled dogs are in the shop, too.  Besides, it is really tough on them to pull the smoker up to central New York when the temperature is 80 degrees. 

So how do you catch the game?

Never fear.  LFN's here.

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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 Colgate Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Will Lehigh Get to Where Their Feet Are?

Lehigh and Colgate is always a big game, whether both teams are going in undefeated or, as in this case, an 0-5 team is squaring off against a 2-3 team.

In a testimony to how evenly matched both of these teams have been over the years, Colgate and Lehigh have split their last 10 meetings, and no team has won more than 3 straight against the other since the inception of the Patriot League.

Colgate and Lehigh have faced off 54 times, and the overall record has been, fittingly, close, with Colgate holding a slender 29-23-2 advantage.  The last tie came in 1980, a 17-17 tie at Taylor Stadium in which Lehigh's John Whitehead and Colgate's Fred Dunlap faced off as head coach.  In a way, that hotly-contested tie sort-of epitomizes the competitiveness of this rivalry today.

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Lehigh At Colgate Game Preview: Will Ignition Happen In Hamilton?

Sometimes, the lawnmower engine you've pull-started five times finally gets up and running after the sixth time you've pulled the recoil starter handle - the gas igniting, the smoke billowing, the engine humming. 

And other times, after you pull the recoil starter handle, you hear the parts stirring, something in there wanting to fire, but it doesn't.  Something's amiss - some debris, something out of tune - but the upshot is, ignition doesn't happen.

This is the place where Lehigh football is right now.

The lawnmower that is Lehigh football has ignited - a little.  The engine has had power, and created a whole lot of smoke.  But in the end, each time the system has returned to rest, unable to use the power to get the job done and achieve a single victory.  Things are out of tune.

It's not ideal to have to be in a must-ignite moment against, historically, the second-biggest rival on the football schedule, the team against whom so many epic battles have occurred for the Mountain Hawks - many of them which helped determine the Patriot League Championship and FCS Playoff autobid. 

And yet, here we are, with the recoil starter handle in hand, hoping that this time, the sixth time, everything is tuned correctly and everything starts firing all at the right time.

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LFN’s FCS Top 25, 10/3/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25And this wasn't a week where a lot of teams dropped out, but it was a week where there were a bunch of epic Top 25 clashes that caused some reshuffling in the ranks.

For example, Youngstown State humbled South Dakota State 19-7 at home in a defensive feast, Central Arkansas overcame Sam Houston State 41-30 in a shootout, and South Dakota continued their dominant early-season performance by jumping to a 38-6 lead and then holding off a furious Leatherneck rally to survive in a 38-33 win over Western Illinois.

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