Game Preview: Lehigh football to play high-scoring Navy without Bragalone

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Senior kicker Ed Mish prepares to punt during the game against Villanova on Saturday, September 8th, at Goodman Stadium. The Mountain Hawks are playing Navy this Saturday at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. (Benjamin Wang/B&W Staff)

Game info:

The Lehigh Mountain Hawks (1-1) are traveling to Annapolis, Maryland to face the Navy Midshipmen (1-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Lehigh’s previous game:

The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Mountain Hawks 31-9 last Saturday, Sept. 8 at Goodman Stadium. Despite a high-scoring battle with Villanova in their previous season, the Mountain Hawks struggled to gain any offensive momentum before the last quarter of the game. Senior running back Dom Bragalone, a top player for Lehigh, was injured in the second quarter of the game and did not return. He will not be playing against Navy. Senior linebacker Mark Walker led the defense with a total of 11 tackles and was followed by senior defensive backs Sam McCloskey and Donavon Harris.

Last Lehigh vs. Navy matchup:

Resuming a previous traditional rivalry on Saturday, the Mountain Hawks and the Midshipmen have not faced each other since 1987. The teams have played each other 21 times, all of which were played in Annapolis. At their last meeting in 1987, Lehigh defeated Navy 24-9 and was ultimately taken off of Navy’s schedule in future seasons.

Keys to the game:

Without star running back Bragalone, who generates the majority of the Mountain Hawk offensive attack, someone will need to step up to create momentum for the team. It’s essential for senior quarterback Brad Mayes to have a good game since Navy is an offensive powerhouse and will put up high numbers against the Lehigh defense. Linebacker Mark Walker needs to lead his defense and put pressure on Navy quarterback Malcom Perry in order for the Mountain Hawks to be competitive.

Key players:

Lehigh: Mayes and freshman back-up running back Rashawn Allen need to lead the Mountain Hawks offense. Junior wide receiver Devon Bibbens, who scored the lone touchdown for the Mountain Hawks last week, will also need to capitalize on his large receiving role this season.

Navy: In last week’s game against Memphis, senior safety and defensive captain Sean Williams caused four turnovers, two of them being forced fumbles, and had nine tackles. He will be the key to leading the Midshipmen’s defense. Quarterback Perry will also be a force for Navy as he has averaged 137 rushing yards in his two games this year.

Implications of the game:

Navy plays in the FBS and has been a single-sport member of the American Athletic Conference since 2015. Though a loss would have no effect on the Mountain Hawk’s Patriot League ranking, a win or even a competitive loss for Lehigh would have a tremendous impact on team morale and momentum. Navy is predicted to have a high-scoring game against Lehigh, so it’ll be important for the Lehigh defense to apply pressure. 

 

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