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Some good, some bad at Lehigh's annual Brown and White Game
When we last saw the Lehigh University football team at Goodman Stadium, linebacker Al Pierce was intercepting an underthrown Lafayette pass to preserve a stunning 27-21 overtime victory.
On Saturday morning, another ‘’game'’ ended with an interception.
And while Shane Ryan’s pickoff wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Pierce’s theft five months earlier, it did give the defense a 39-37 win over the offense in the annual ‘’Brown and White Game'’ and generated plenty of hoots and hollers from his mates.
‘’We lost this game last year, so the whole defense was ready to come out and play hard,'’ Ryan said. ‘’We came out flying around, trying to make plays.'’
The defense made its share, intercepting four passes, including one by Jonathan Littlejohn that was returned 30 yards for a touchdown.
But the offense had its moments as well in the glorified intrasquad scrimmage that closed out Lehigh’s spring practice period.
The offense scored three touchdowns and got TD passes from each of the trio of quarterbacks vying for the starting job.
Rising senior J.B. Clark threw a 20-yard TD pass to Jake Drwal; soon-to-be junior Chris Lum tossed a 2-yarder to tight end Jamal Haggins and Mike Colvin had a 5-yard scoring toss to fullback Alex Petroff.
Each of the QB candidates also had a mix of good moments and not so good.
Head coach Andy Coen allowed the defense to blitz against the No. 1 offensive unit and that provided a better gauge of how each was handling the heat.
‘’It was a typical spring game with some good, some bad,'’ Coen said. ‘’I like the defense creating those turnovers, but I didn’t like the offense turning it over. At the same time, the offense had some nice drives.
‘’Our quarterbacks did some good things. We put them live to see how they would do, and I think all of the turnovers came with the second unit, so that’s good. We didn’t expect to decide the quarterback position today. We’ll go back and look at the film and see if there are any answers there.'’
Clark, who began – and finished – 2009 as the starter, was 6-for-10 for 53 yards.
‘’We scored on the first drive and I was getting into a groove,'’ he said. ‘’The O-line was protecting real well, the backs were running great and we were executing.
‘’But if started falling off toward the end. It’s kind of hard when you go in for one series and then you have to wait awhile until you get back out there.'’
When asked if he got all he wanted from the spring sessions, Clark said: ‘’Not enough. I wanted a lot out of this spring and I did get a lot. I am used to competing for this job. You have to keep working hard. This summer is going to be huge for us on offense with the wideouts, the O-line, everybody.'’
And it’s going to be big for Clark and the rest of the quarterbacks to see who emerges as the starter for the Sept. 4 opener at Drake.
Lum, who started three games last season, was 6-for-13 for 52 yards on Saturday.
Colvin, who had shown so much potential last year as a freshman before going down in a Game 7 win at Bucknell with a broken leg, had a real up-and-down day.
Colvin was the team’s second-leading rusher last year with 227 yards on the ground out of the wildcat formation.
Limited to throwing it on Saturday, he was 5-for-14 for 86 yards, and had a perfectly-placed 43-yard completion to Preston Soeprasteyo.
However, Colvin, still feeling his way after the injury, also threw three interceptions, including the one returned for a TD.
‘’Michael still had some fabulous throws,'’ Coen said. ‘’We’re going to be able to go back and take some positives out of the whole day, which is good.'’
Littlejohn, a rising junior looking to get some time in a deep, experienced secondary, can take his scoring interception return as something to build on as he looks ahead to the start of fall practice.
‘’We had to break out and get turnovers today because that’s the only way for the defense to score, and that was my first interception of the entire spring,'’ Littlejohn said. ‘’We have a lot of playmakers on defense. We don’t feel like we have any weaknesses. Everybody is going to work hard in the summer and come back stronger.'’
Littlejohn was probably speaking for many in the entire program, when he said ‘’I feel like we can go get a ring this year.'’
That may sound like bold talk for any member of a team that has gone 5-6, 5-6 and 4-7 over the past three years, but the pieces are there. They just need to come together.
‘’I feel good about today and I think the kids can feel good as well because it was an evenly matched kind of deal,'’ Coen said. ‘’When one side gets hammered in the point system, then you don’t feel quite as good.
‘’Before you know it Aug. 10 [the first day of fall practice] will be here and we’ll be getting on a plane on Sept. 3 to go to Des Moines, Iowa, to play Drake in our season opener. We’ll be ready to go.'’
Some good, some bad at Lehigh’s annual Brown and White Game
By Keith Groller OF THE MORNING CALL