Lehigh senior running back Dominick Bragalone prepares to receive a tackle during Lehigh's loss against Villanova on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at Goodman Stadium. Bragalone was injured in todays loss against Villanova. (Andy Bickel/B&W Staff)

Game Preview: Lehigh football vs. Villanova Wildcats


Game Info:

The Lehigh Mountain Hawks (1-0) are hosting the Villanova Wildcats (1-0) at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8 at Goodman Stadium.

Lehigh’s previous game:

The Mountain Hawks (1-0) defeated the Saint Francis Red Flash (0-1) 21-19 in their opening game of the season last Saturday, Sept. 1 at Goodman Stadium. Lehigh junior quarterback Tyler Monaco started the game and played the entire first quarter before senior quarterback Brad Mayes took over for the remaining three. Senior running back Dominick Bragalone ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns, becoming Lehigh’s all-time leading rusher in the process. Lehigh blocked a late field goal attempt by the Red Flash to secure the win.

Last Lehigh vs. Villanova matchup:

Lehigh hosted Villanova to open last season, when it was defeated by the Wildcats in an offensive battle, 38-35. Then-junior quarterback Brad Mayes threw for 406 yards and four touchdowns in the loss. That loss marked the first of four in a row for the Mountain Hawks, who opened last season with a 1-5 record before ultimately winning the Patriot League. Villanova has beaten the Mountain Hawks in seven of their eight latest matchups since 2004.

Keys to the game:

Another strong showing from Bragalone versus the Wildcats will be crucial if the Mountain Hawks are looking to repeat the five touchdowns they scored against Villanova last season. It’s also important for the defense to make stops and not let a high-scoring offensive team, like the Wildcats, put up another 38 points against them.

Key players:

Lehigh: It comes as no surprise that Bragalone is Lehigh’s key to defeating the Wildcats on Saturday. If all goes well, he will build on his record-setting game to open the season as Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week. Bragalone was named to the FCS Walter Payton Award watch list for a second straight season, along with Mayes.

Villanova: Senior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk threw for three touchdowns and 254 yards in the Wildcat’s 19-17 win versus Temple last weekend. Bednarczyk was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week and sixth all-time at Villanova with 6,017 all-purpose yards in his career.

Implications of the game:

In contrast to last season, Lehigh has collected its first win before facing Villanova. But the four-game losing streak started by a tight battle with the Wildcats in 2017 remains a teachable moment — if the game gets close, hanging in with Villanova might mean more than just one contest.

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