By Zion Olojede, ’18 | Sports Editor | The Brown and White
A Patriot League title on the line.
A chance to beat your arch-rival for a third consecutive year.
Lehigh will not squander this opportunity, especially in front a sold out Goodman Stadium.
Lehigh has won the last seven out of nine matchups in The Rivalry, so let’s not ignore the fact that this has been a one-sided rivalry of late, which seems to be the case in most matchups between Lehigh and Lafayette athletic teams.
As atrocious as the Patriot League has been this year, Lehigh is still the best team in the conference. Even after a 0-5 start in non-conference play and losing several players to injury, Lehigh has cruised to a 4-1 mark in league play behind it’s high-powered offense.
The Mountain Hawks are led by the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year favorite junior running back Dom Bragalone, who leads the FCS in the total touchdowns with 19 on the year. Lehigh also has an All-American wide receiver senior Troy Pelletier who has put together another productive year. Even with junior quarterback Brad Mayes starting his first rivalry game, he has plenty of experience around him to guide him through the game.
On the other side, Lafayette has been somewhat of a surprise this season. The Leopards come in at 3-2 in Patriot League play and can still share the Patriot League title with a win over Lehigh and a Colgate loss. However, they will not receive the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs if they share the title with Colgate and Lehigh, since they lost to Colgate earlier in the season, so the Leopards will be playing their final game of the year this Saturday.
Their motive is to end Lehigh’s streak in the rivalry and to ultimately end Lehigh’s hopes of winning another conference championship.
I believe that the Leopards’ record is a bit misleading. Although Lafayette’s defense has been impressive, its offense has been abysmal. Lafayette has yet to score over 24 points in a game this season. The most the Leopards have scored in a win this season was 14 against Fordham.
I don’t care how good your defense is—you’re not holding Lehigh’s offense to 14 points. The least Lehigh has scored in the Patriot League this season was 34 points last weekend. While Lehigh has been one of the worst defensive teams statistically in the country, the Mountain Hawks have allowed 21 points in each of their last two games with both opponents scoring late garbage time touchdowns. If you want to beat Lehigh, it will not be in a defensive battle.
Yes, records and season performances are usually thrown out the window when these two teams face off, but there’s too much firepower on Lehigh’s offense to ignore. It was the same case in last year’s game and Lehigh came out and bulldozed the Leopards, essentially putting the game away in the first half.
I’ll be honest; Lafayette could reach its highest point total of the year on offense, but it’s nearly impossible to slow down an offense that can hurt in so many ways, whether it’s on the ground or in the air.
The Leopards won’t be able to keep up. Lehigh will cruise to victory to win the Patriot League for a second straight year and Bragalone will receive MVP honors.
Prediction: Lehigh 38, Lafayette 14