Mountain Hawks To Host Bucknell Saturday In South Division Opener
04/01/2021 8:22 p.m.
BETHLEHEM, PA. – After three long weeks and numerous postponements and cancellations, Lehigh is expected to be back on the field for the first time since March 13th as the Mountain Hawks open the Patriot League South Division action against the Bucknell Bison on Saturday lunchtime at Goodman Stadium.
The Mountain Hawks received a strong defensive performance in the opener against Holy Cross, but the offensive could only score a field goal with a 20-3 setback. Lehigh kept Holy Cross up to 209 yards on the offensive, forcing three turnovers but only scored three points from those takeaways, while the Crusaders made 17 out of three Lehigh turnovers. Bucknell had to wait two weeks to open his season but did so last weekend with a 38-13 home win over Lafayette. Lehigh’s head coach Tom Gilmore and Bucknell’s head coach Dave Cecchini were the coordinators of Lehigh’s 2000 and 2001 Patriot League championship teams.
As announced on March 5th, The Lehigh University’s COVID-19 response team approved a request by the athletics department to allow a limited number (2) of Lehigh team guests (submitted in advance) to participate in our outdoor home sports events and to enter the permanent seating area of our venues, which is well defined by fences and gates in some venues and that is defined and secured at other venues. The two guests are expected to adhere to all universities and colleges Athletics Department Health and Safety Protocols during her visit to our Goodman campus. Guests of the visiting team are not permitted in our venues at this time, unless this is communicated directly to the visiting team for a specific event.
The Mountain Hawks defense was an area of strength in 2019, and the unit picked up where it left off last weekend’s opener against Holy Cross. Lehigh limited Holy Cross to just 209 yards of total insult, 46 that came on the final voyage the Crusaders could run short of time. The Mountain Hawks had lost nine tackles, three sacks and three food stalls. The four races at Holy Cross covered a total of 83 meters. Lehigh held the Holy Cross at just 91 meters that day. The last time Lehigh held a Patriot League opponent under 100 yards was in the 2017 Lafayette game, when the Mountain Hawks restricted the Leopards to just 43 yards through the air.
More security TyGee Leach enjoyed the best all-round game of his career in the opener against Holy Cross. Leach led the Mountain Hawks in nine tackles, including two tackles against the loss, and recorded his first career interception, returning 15 yards to set up Lehigh’s field goal for the first quarter. A native of Norristown, Pennsylvania, has also been credited with a passport separation. Leach appeared as a freshman in all eleven games and started the last seven safely.
Much like the season opener with Holy Cross, there are a number of connections between the Lehigh and Bucknell coaches. Above all, Lehigh head coach Tom Gilmore and Bucknell head coach Dave Cecchini acted together as defensive and offensive coordinators at Lehigh from 2000 to 2002, first under Kevin Higgins and then under Pete Lembo. They led their respective units on the Patriot League championship teams in 2000 and 2001. Defensive coordinator Mike Kashurba trained in Bucknell in 2012 and 2013. On the bison side, Cecchini is a former All-America recipient for Brown and White. His staff includes former Lehigh team captain and assistant coach Matt Ford ’16. Assistant coaches Jason Miran, Isaac Collins and Vinny Giacalone were with Lehigh during their coaching careers.
Due to COVID-related cancellations and a reshuffle in the Patriot League schedule, Lehigh has not played a game since the start on March 13. When the Mountain Hawks hit the field on Saturday, it will be the first time since 2001 that Lehigh has had two weeks off between regular season games. That year, Lehigh opened his season with a 41:14 win at Georgetown on September 1. The following week, Lehigh said goodbye and the September 15th Mountain Hawks game in Penn was canceled due to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Lehigh returned to action on September 22nd with a 34:10 home win over Princeton.
Bucknell’s first two games were postponed, but the Bison impressed on their debut of the season, beating Lafayette 38-13 last Saturday at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. The bison limited the leopards to a total of 284 yards of attack, including just 15 on the ground, while picking up the quarterbacks from Lafayette four times. Junior Brandon Sanders caught 12 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns and was the Patriot League attacking player of the week. Bucknell quarterbacks Logan Bitikofer and Tarrin Earle have thrown 328 yards and four non-stop touchdowns together. Five bison have been named to the preseason All-League team: Sanders, offensive lineman PJ Barr, defensive lineman Nnamdi Unachukwu, linebacker Simeon Page and defender Gavin Pringle.
Lehigh has played Bucknell more times than any other opponent except rival Lafayette. The Mountain Hawks and Bison meet for the 84th time, with Lehigh having a 48-32-3 advantage. Lehigh has won 19 of the last 22 games and won 15 straight before Bucknell won back-to-back in 2013 and 2014.
Saturday’s game starts just after noon at Goodman Stadium. The game will be broadcast in Lehigh Valley on Service Electric Network 2/502 and streamed on ESPN +, while audio will be available on Fox Sports Radio 1230/1320 AM and 94.7 FM Allentown and LVFoxSports.com. The pre-game radio broadcast starts at 11:30 a.m.
Lehigh was originally scheduled to face Lafayette in the 156th edition of college football’s most-played rivalry on April 3. The game was postponed on March 30th, opening the door to the rescheduling of the Patriot League, which postponed the Bucknell game to April 3rd. The Mountain Hawks will now face Lafayette at Rivalry 156 next Saturday (April 10th). Game time is set at 12:30 p.m. at Fisher Stadium in Easton, Pennsylvania. Lehigh will attempt to avenge a 17:16 loss in November 2019 that started a four-game Mountain Hawk winning streak in the series. A Lehigh win over Bucknell would mean the Mountain Hawks would win the Patriot League South Division with a win over the Leopards. As usual, everything can change.
|Date:||April 3, 2021|
|Kicking off:||12:05 p.m.|
|Stadion:||Goodman Stadium / 16,000 / natural grass|
|Lehigh’s record:||0-1 overall, 0-0 PL South|
|Bucknell’s record:||1: 0 overall, 1: 0 PL South|
|Series:||Lehigh leads 48-32-3|
|watch TV||Service Electric Network 2/502 and ESPN + with Doug Heater and Mike Yadush ’93|
|radio||Fox Sports Radio 1230/1320 and 94.7 FM Allentown with Matt Kerr and Matt Markus from 11:30 am|
|Internet broadcast:||Video on ESPN + (PatriotLeague.TV)
Audio at LVFoxSports.com
|Important statistics:||• Lehigh’s defense limited Holy Cross to a total of 209 yards of attack as the Mountain Hawks forced three turnovers and had three sacks.
• Sixteen Lehigh newbies saw action against Holy Cross, including four that had started.
• Lehigh went 31-6 with two Patriot League titles from 2000 to 2002 when Tom Gilmore and Dave Cecchini served as Mountain Hawks’ defensive and offensive coordinators, respectively.
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