Posted: April 22, 2006
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh’s defense topped the offense by a 30-24 score in the first Brown and White spring game under new head coach Andy Coen. In addition to battling each other, the units had to contend with Mother Nature, who brought drenching rains and gusty winds to Goodman Stadium. Temperatures hovered in the mid-40s throughout the scrimmage, which consisted of about 90 plays.
“Sure, the rain hurt our execution a little bit, but I kind of liked the inclement situation we faced,” Coen said inside the stadium house following the scrimmage. “We know that we can’t control what the weather will be on Saturdays [during the season]. We have talked a lot this spring about physical and mental toughness, and [the weather] is part of that.”
Lehigh quarterback Sedale Threatt, who will be a junior during the upcoming season, agreed. “The conditions today were a little rough,” Threatt said. “But week-in and week-out, football games are won or lost in these types of conditions. This spring we’ve been fortunate to practice when it’s snowed, and also when it has been [well over] 70 degrees.”
The scrimmage consisted of the first team offense vs. the first team defense, the second team units pitted against one another, and so on. There was a modified scoring system in place by which the defense earned points for stops, turnovers, and sacks, among other things.
The defense built a quick four-nothing lead, forcing the offense to go three-and-out in each of its first two possessions.
Trailing by a 14-6 score, Threatt found senior wideout Frank Trovato on a pretty 35-yard waggle play, to make the score 14-8 (the offense received two points for a play of 20+ yards). Threatt then connected with junior Pete Donchez in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, giving the offense the lead for the first time.
“Donch [Pete Donchez] made a great catch,” Threatt said after the game. “I put it up there but he’s the one who went up and got it.”
Donchez was excited to be on the field at Goodman Saturday, no matter the conditions. “It felt good to get out there and compete,” he said. “There’s always a learning curve in the spring, and both sides made some mistakes.”
One Lehigh player learning a new position is senior Matt Mohler, who moved to linebacker from the defensive line. “[The coaches] are trying to teach an old dog new tricks,” Mohler joked. “But the coaches have been patient as we have tried to learn their system. As a team, we played hard today. We made a lot of errors, but came out ready to play.”
Mohler made several noteworthy defensive plays on the day. “Matt is tailor-made for that position,” Coen said in explaining the West Virginia native’s move to the linebacker spot. “He’s a big guy who’s very athletic, and is capable of making some big plays for us.”
On assessing the day overall, Coen was pleased with the team’s progress. “We made strides on our toughness this spring, and that showed [today],” he said. “Come September, our goal is to be the toughest team out there each and every Saturday. We’ve still got some work to do.”
Prior to the start of the Brown and White game, the program announced its 2006 captains. Senior defensive back Julian Austin, senior offensive lineman John Reese, and Threatt were all named captains for the 2006 season.
“It is a privilege and an honor to be selected captain by my peers,” Threatt said after the game. “I will work hard to do that job to the best of my abilities.”
Coen reaffirmed that it was the players’ decision as to who the captains would be, but that he was pleased with their decision. “They chose the guys, and they chose great players, great leaders,” Coen said.
The Brown and White game marks the conclusion of 15 spring practices for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh will officially open camp on Tuesday, August 8, and the Mountain Hawks open the 2006 season at Goodman Stadium on September 2 vs. the University at Albany.
GAME NOTES: … Despite the heavy rains on Saturday in Bethlehem, the field held up remarkably well. The grass had been covered by a turf blanket throughout the winter, and the field remained in great shape throughout the day … About 350 die-heard fans, parents, and alums braved Saturday’s awful weather to watch the scrimmage … Lehigh season ticket holders will receive their renewals in the mail the week of May 15.
Photos (c) 2006, Chris Christian/Lehigh Athletics