The Mountain Hawks are coming off an impressive 42-21 win over Ivy League opponent University of Pennsylvania, which featured a full team effort with multiple players receiving Patriot League honors for their performances.
Freshman running back Micco Brisker was named the league’s Rookie of the Week, junior defensive back Brian Githens earned Defensive Player of the Week and freshman kicker Ed Mish garnered Special Teams Player of the Week.
Princeton University (1-0) is coming into Saturday’s game against Lehigh with a lot of confidence after beating the Hawks’ long-time rival Lafayette College (0-3), 40-7. Lafayette, which is having a rough season so far, was out-gained in total yards by the Tigers, 573-278.
The Tigers exploded in the second and third quarters, putting up 33 unanswered points. Senior running back Dre Nelson led the rushing attack with eight carries for 116 yards and one touchdown and senior teammate DiAndre Atwater helped out by adding 93 yards on 14 carries. Princeton’s quarterback Chad Kanoff was 20-for-31 with 256 yards and a touchdown.
Last year, Princeton had an average 5-5 record, finishing 4-3 in the Ivy League conference, including wins over Cornell University and Penn. Also, the Tigers lost to Colgate University by one point.
Saturday’s game will be an opportunity to see if Lehigh’s offense can stand up to Princeton’s defense.
Junior quarterback Nick Shafnisky said he is ready for the challenge. He explained that his team will look to come out with a strong rushing attack, while also having an effective passing game and letting it air out to deep-threat receivers.
Lehigh’s team offensive goals are to put up at least 35 points and rush for at least 150 yards in the game.
“We want to go 3-0 in our Ivy League games (Penn, Princeton and Yale) before our Patriot League play comes around,” Shafnisky said. “Princeton is our next speed bump we need to get ready for and play another great, full complete game against them.”
On the defensive side, the Mountain Hawks will look to continue the momentum shown against Penn last week. Even though junior linebacker Colton Caslow currently leads the team with 37 tackles in three games, he is far from satisfied and will continue to help Lehigh’s defense with his physical play.
“A big factor in this game is going to be eliminating the other team’s big plays and causing turnovers from a defensive standpoint,” Caslow said. “Our morale is high, of course, but now Penn is behind us and we have to focus on Princeton.”
Senior defensive back Randall Lawson will also be a key player in stopping Princeton’s passing attack. Lawson currently has eight total tackles in addition to covering other teams’ key receivers.
As a senior, Lawson understands that tackling fundamentals as well as technique are two important factors to help win a football game.
“This week, we are trying to eliminate the big plays, in the past two games in particular we haven’t tackled at the level necessary to be a great team,” he said. “Between the bad tackling and mental hours, we’ve put ourselves in bad positions and allowed plays to go for more yardage than they should have.”
So far this week, the Mountain Hawks have made an emphasis on creating turnovers in practice. The team has been working hard in drills to simulate game-like scenarios.
“We have to get off (the field) on third down,” Lawson said. “We’ve gotten teams to third down and allowed the drive to extend. We’re just trying to get better every week.”
Game time is set for 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26 in Princeton, New Jersey. The game will be broadcast on ESPN Radio.