Rising senior running back Dominick Bragalone tries to dodge the defensive Brown team during the annual Brown and White football game at Goodman Stadium on Saturday. The Brown team defeated the offensive White team 23-21. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Brown and White game caps spring football practice

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Lehigh football capped its spring practice and training in the annual Brown and White game. The defensive Brown team held off the offensive White team 23-21 in a closely contested match at Goodman Stadium April 21.

In a new format for this year, the defensive team was given a 23-point lead to start the game, and it was up to the offensive team to try to overtake the defense to win. The offensive unit was able to convert on three of its 12 drives but had trouble advancing down the field for the majority of the spring game, falling by two points.

While the game was not a completely accurate simulation of the competition Lehigh will face out of the gate against opponents St. Francis University, Villanova University and Navy, it was a test to see how the offensive and defensive units had progressed throughout spring practice and where each group stood with a few months left until the season-opener.

Three of rising senior quarterback Brad Mayes’ 13 completed passes went for touchdowns. He threw only one interception.

“I think we did well offensively, just some minor things we need to clean up,” Mayes said. “We had a lot of new guys in new positions, so I think it’s a good opportunity for new guys stepping in — playing in Goodman Stadium. It was a lot of fun to come out here and compete with a lot of guys.”

Mayes said he was impressed with how the defense held strong and limited the offense to just three scores.

“I think the defense got a lot of negativity last year just because of statistics and stuff, but I feel like there are a lot of talented players on that defense,” Mayes said. “We couldn’t have been as good offensively last year without them, so I’m really excited for their future. They’re getting a lot of work in this spring, so that’s good for them and good for us.”

Mayes made it his goal to improve his leadership skills and limit the number of turnovers in practice this spring.

He said he thought he did a good job of keeping interceptions to a low during the offseason and in the Brown and White game after turning the ball over too often last season.

“I had a little wager with the defensive backs, and I think I only ended up with five interceptions through 15 practices, so I think the defensive backs actually owe me something,” Mayes said. “It’s a lot of fun just coming out here and having something to compete on — having something to work on — just setting a goal at the beginning, and that was my goal, just limiting the turnovers from last year.”

Rising senior wide receiver Cam Richardson also made the most of Saturday’s game by catching two passes that both resulted in touchdowns. While Richardson isn’t at the top of the wide receivers depth chart, performances like this will afford him the opportunity to see more playing time come the fall.

Richardson’s preparation is concentrated on consistent blocking and catching.

“If it touches my hands, I should catch it,” Richardson said. “So, that’s what I’ve been focusing on.”

Richardson said while spring practice has been challenging, the team performed well and will be ready for the fall.

“The spring is a lot of fun,” Richardson said. “This year is a little bit tougher than normal lifting-wise and coming out to practice, but we rallied, came out and competed.”

With wide receivers rising sophomore Jorge Portorreal, junior Devon Bibbens and senior Luke Christiano, coach Andy Coen said the team will have a powerful wide-receiver core this upcoming season with contributions from Richardson and rising senior wide receiver Conner Bianchini.

Although Coen was pleased with the overall effort on both sides of the ball, he said there’s still work to be done as the Lehigh football team heads into summer camp.

“The wide-receiver group dropped the ball a couple of times,” Coen said. “I’m not too crazy about that.”

Despite the rainy days and cold spells that plagued the last few months, Coen was happy with the team’s progress as a whole.

“With the weather being as horrible as it was, I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything,” Coen said. “The kids worked really hard. It was cold, rainy and everything. The kids didn’t complain. They did what they had to do. The quarterbacks played really well through that type of weather.”

With all of the excitement surrounding the incoming freshman class and Mayes and star running back Dominick Bragalone both returning as seniors, Lehigh will compete for its third consecutive Patriot League title.

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