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After Ugly Loss, Lehigh Left Looking for Answers

Ugly, plain and simple. The Lehigh Mountain Hawks were going up against a Fordham Rams squad they’ve dominated at home (14-1 coming into Saturday’s game), and looking to begin conference play 1-0 for the tenth time in 11 years. But after a disheartening 43-14 loss, the defending Patriot League champions were left looking for answers.

Plain Offensive

The Mountain Hawks offense has yet to get on track this year. After five games last year, Lehigh’s offense produced ten plays of 30 yards or more. This season after five games, the Mountain Hawks have five plays of 30 or more yards. But there was reason for optimism heading into this game, mainly getting senior running back Dominick Bragalone off and running.

Bragalone has dominated the Fordham Rams in his career running for 519 yards and five touchdowns in three previous games. However the senior running back would not duplicate his past success this afternoon. Save for an opening run of 25 yards, Bragalone failed to find room all day and finished with 19 rushes for 50 yards.

The Mountain Hawks offense never took off today. Lehigh looked a step slower and overall the unit turned in a tired and sluggish performance. Running plays took too long to develop and quarterback Brad Mayes still has yet to find his 2017 form, finishing the day throwing for 282 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.

The ‘Ole’ Defense

The Fordham Rams entered today’s game with an 0-5 record, a freshman quarterback, and a first year head coach. They were playing in a city where they’ve only won once in 15 contests. Fordham entered the game without the semblance of a running game, and after the first quarter things were holding true to form with the Rams gaining nine yards on eight attempts.

Then, the Lehigh defense began to resemble a team of matadors with Fordham beginning to pile on yards after contact. Not only were the Rams finding success on the ground (44 attempts for 189 yards), but wide receivers Austin Longi (five receptions for 108 yards) and Corey Caddle (three receptions for 100 yards) were often running wide open behind Lehigh’s secondary.

What Lies Ahead for the Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Lehigh has a tough road ahead if the Mountain Hawks want to repeat as Patriot League Champions. The good news is that all hope isn’t lost. Lehigh has five conference games remaining with the next two versus Georgetown and Holy Cross at least winnable on paper.

If the Mountain Hawks take care of business, circle Nov. 10 on your calendars. A tough and tested Colgate team will be coming into Goodman Stadium looking to avenge last year’s home upset loss to Lehigh.

The bad news is that when you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. Lehigh must find a way to shore up their defense and must find a way to get both Bragalone and Mayes back to producing like they’re capable.

Plain and simple, Lehigh made their road to repeat as Patriot League champs exponentially tougher with their loss today. The Mountain Hawks season can still turn around, but with today’s stinging defeat, they surrendered their margin of error.

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Paul is the Lehigh Football beat writer for DoubleGSports.com
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