UnderPreview: Hens vs. Lehigh
Published: Monday, November 29, 2010
Updated: Thursday, December 2, 2010 00:12
Location: Delaware Stadium
About Delaware: The Hens (9-2, 6-1 CAA) are making their first playoff appearance since making the national championship in 2007. Senior quarterback Pat Devlin, the CAA Offensive Player of the Year, and freshman running back Andrew Pierce, the CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year, lead the way on offense. Devlin has thrown for 2,158 yards with 14 touchdowns this year, while Pierce has rushed for 1149 yards and 12 touchdowns. Both of them, along with left guard Gino Gradkowski and safety Anthony Bratton, earned first-team honors on the All-CAA team. Sixteen Hens' players were named to the three All-CAA teams. Defensively, Delaware allows only 11.6 points per game on average and has 16 interceptions on the year.
About Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks (10-2, 5-0 Patriot League) won their first-round playoff game over the weekend at Northern Iowa by the score of 14-7. After going into the half down 7-0, Lehigh scored two touchdowns in the third quarter, both on passes by junior quarterback Chris Lum. Defensively, the Mountain Hawks had three interceptions and eight tackles for a loss. Lum has 2,519 passing yards this season and has thrown for 17 touchdowns. Lehigh currently is riding an eight-game winning streak, which is the longest current streak in FCS.
Why the Hens can win: Delaware will have had two weeks to rest and let the loss to Villanova simmer, so the players should be fresh and motivated to come out strong. Lehigh's only two losses this year have come to CAA opponents, a 35-0 setback to Villanova and a 31-10 defeat to New Hampshire. The Hens should have an advantage at just about every position on the field, and Devlin and company on the offense will be looking to have a big day. The defense will be looking to shut down a Lehigh offense that struggled to score points against Northern Iowa, a defense inferior to Delaware's. Lehigh will also be playing on the road for the second straight week, and the crowd at Delaware Stadium will be the biggest it has seen all year.
Why the Hens can lose: Lehigh ran many trick plays against Northern Iowa, wide receiver and halfback passes among them. The few times Delaware's defense has been burned this season has been because of these gadget plays. The win last week at Northern Iowa will no doubt give the Mountain Hawks momentum for this game. After winning at the UNI Dome , one of the most intimidating environments at the FCS level, Lehigh will be confident of going into Delaware Stadium with the same goal. Defensively, Lehigh succeeded in getting into Northern Iowa's backfield, and its 3-4 defense is a complicated scheme for the Delaware offensive line to defend against.
29-16: The all-time series record between the two teams, with Delaware winning 29 times.
47-22: The final score of the Hens' victory against Lehigh in the 2000 quarterfinals.
8-2: K.C. Keeler's record in NCAA Tournament games.
3: The number of games in a row the Mountain Hawks have trailed at halftime. They have come back and won all three.
Keeler will have his team ready for this game, and I would be surprised if Lehigh scores more than 10 points.
Mountain Hawks 6