Last season against Yale University, Lehigh football held a 21-point lead early in the second quarter, appearing to be in control of the game from the start. However, Yale went on a 33-7 run to overtake the Hawks and ultimately win the game.
Lehigh will get a chance at revenge as it welcomes Yale this Saturday for its final non-league game and the last of three consecutive Ivy League matchups. The game is also part of Homecoming weekend at Goodman Stadium.
Lehigh’s (2-2) last Ivy League game, which was against Princeton University, resulted in a 52-26 loss for the Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh and Yale have met 22 previous times, with Yale leading the series 16-6. Yale won the first 12 meetings, with Lehigh winning the next five. However, Yale has won four of the last five games.
“Going into this week we’re going to focus on the little things more,” junior quarterback Nick Shafnisky said. “The finer details of the game like ball security and limiting our penalties…they couldn’t stop us, we stopped ourselves.”
Executing these two aspects is where the team struggled in its game against Princeton.
Shafnisky said that on defense, the team needs to to limit big plays. Through four games this season, Lehigh’s defense playing well has often been synonymous with the team’s success.
“We need to cut out mental mistakes like penalties and missed assignments on the field, as well as win the turnover margin by forcing more turnovers defensively and preventing them from happening offensively,” said junior linebacker Colton Caslow, who was injured in Lehigh’s last meeting against Yale.
To prepare for the upcoming game, the team is continuing to study game film so it can point out specific instances to improve on, as well as practice hard and persistently learn from past mistakes.
Last year against Yale, the team struggled to play a full 60 minutes, ultimately leading to a loss in momentum. This year, the Mountain Hawks know that they cannot be overly content or satisfied at any part of the game. The team said that no matter the score, it has to play its best the entire time.
“Yale doesn’t blitz an awful lot, so that makes it a lot easier for the offense,” freshman running back Micco Brisker said. “The past is the past and we aren’t concerned with it. We have learned from our mistakes, and we are ready to move on.”
For the Lehigh-Yale matchup in particular, there is more at stake than simply a “W” on a schedule or a number on a scoreboard. The Yank Townsend Trophy is awarded to the winner of the Lehigh and Yale football game.
Charles “Yank” Frederick Townsend (1873-1963) was the only student from Connecticut to enter the Lehigh Class of 1895. As an enthusiastic supporter of both Lehigh and Yale athletics, a trophy bearing Yank’s name is now presented to the winner of the matchup.
Yale won the trophy first in 2006 and successfully retained it twice after. Lehigh finally secured the trophy for the first time in 2011 and hopes to keep the trophy in Mountain Hawk territory after Saturday’s matchup.
The Homecoming game kicks off Saturday at 12:30 p.m. This game is will also be a part of Lehigh’s sesquicentennial, as the university celebrates its 150th anniversary.