Junior quarterback Nick Shafnisky scrambles past a defender in a game against Yale University on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 at Goodman Stadium. Lehigh will face Fordham University, the defending Patriot League Champions, this Saturday. (Austin Vitelli/B&W Staff)

Lehigh football prepares for tough game against Fordham

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With the knowledge that it will soon meet the defending Patriot League Champions, the Lehigh football team has focused on sharpness and seriousness this past week in preparation for its game against Fordham University Saturday afternoon.

According to senior captain and tight end Chris Ruhl, coach Andy Coen has stressed to the team that this game can be won during the week if the players focus in practice.

“If you look at our win against Bucknell and our win against Penn, which are our two best wins of the year, those were our two best weeks of practice,” Ruhl said. “It was our most intense week of practice. It was our most focused week of practice, so (Coen has) been pushing for us to set the standard with that.”

In addition to receiving Patriot League team of the year both offensively and defensively, as well as playing this season as defending Patriot League champions, Fordham is also high ranked nationally. The Rams are ranked 10th in the nation among FCS teams.

To restart the winning trend, junior quarterback Nick Shafnisky plans to throw the ball a good amount. This approach is based off of scouting reports from Fordham’s game against College of the Holy Cross, which went into overtime. Holy Cross threw the ball against Fordham 70 times.

Lehigh (3-3) is also looking to own the line of scrimmage, run the ball when there is opportunity and break down its zone defense by finding vulnerable holes to break into.

The team has been focusing on the idea of family this past season, and Shafnisky said his job as starting quarterback includes trusting his teammates and receivers, as well as running the ball and picking up positive yards when there is opportunity.

On the defensive side, the team is looking to stop Fordham’s sophomore running back Chase Edmonds.

“Our offense has got to get rolling, and it’s going to be up to the defense to stop their running back,” junior defensive lineman Jimmy Mitchell said, “He’s basically their entire offense.”

Starting all 15 games his freshman season, Edmonds was fifth in the FCS in touchdowns (23) and first in the Patriot League. He was also 12th in the nation in yards per carry with an average of 6.25, which also led the Patriot League.

This past season he was voted preseason Patriot League Player of the Year. This season Edmonds has 15 rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns.

However, Fordham graduated 10 of 11 starters on offense and a large portion of their defense last year.

Knowing that Fordham has been in tight situations in past games this season, the Mountain Hawks expect the Rams are going to be hungry for the win, which means the team must be prepared to respond.

Coming off a bye week, players hope that their bodies are ready to go, having had more time to heal than usual so they are fit and ready for Saturday afternoon play.

Fortunately for the Mountain Hawks, a key defensive player, junior linebacker Colton Caslow, as well as freshman running back Dominick Bragalone will be returning healthy this week.

The Lehigh Mountain Hawks will take on the Fordham Rams at Jack Coffey Field in The Bronx, New York, at 1:00 p.m. Saturday.

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