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Tuesday - Around the Yard: Navy football prepares to reignite rivalry with Lehigh

Navy and Lehigh first met on the football field in 1889. The Midshipmen and Mountain Hawks will meet for the 22nd time on Saturday.

Memphis v Navy Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Good morning, Midshipmen, Black Knights and Falcons.

Week three of the college football season is rapidly approaching. Each of the FBS Service Academy teams have a 1-1 record. Air Force is off this week, Navy hosts Lehigh and Army will host Hawaii.

While Lehigh and Navy are meeting for the first time since 1987, did you know that Mountain Hawks and Midshipmen used to have, like, an actual rivalry? As Bill Wagner of the Capital Gazette notes in his story from Monday, Lehigh and Navy first met on a football field in 1889. Navy and Lehigh played each other 17 times between 1889 and 1913. The series then went on a 70-year hiatus until 1983. By that time, Lehigh had become a Division I-AA team (now known as FCS) and Navy won three out of four meetings between 1983 and 1987.

Navy and Lehigh’s football rivalry has lived through 24 U.S. Presidents, two World Wars, Tupac and Biggie, many rule changes for football and even a name change — Lehigh changed its mascot from the Engineers to the Mountain Hawks in 1995.

The Midshipmen haven’t lost to a FCS opponent since 2007, when they fell to Delaware and some guy by the name of Joe Flacco.

Navy leads this series all-time 14-6-1, but Lehigh won the last meeting, in 1987, 24-9.

“Whether FBS or FCS, every team has good athletes, good coaches, good strength programs, good nutrition programs,” Mids’ head coach Ken Niumatalolo told the Capital Gazette. “We’re the Naval Academy. We don’t act like we’re any better than anyone else. We just come to work every week. It would be very foolish for us to think any differently about who we are.”

More Links

Now it’s the Navy offense’s turn to step up – Capital Gazette
Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper: “We have to lick our wounds, go watch the film, fix some things and come back next Saturday and try to play better. We have to get to the point where we’re more efficient moving the ball. We had too many mental mistakes, too many negative plays today. I’ve got to do a better job as a play-caller of putting our players in position to be successful.”

Guts? Check. Navy football reaches down deep to pull out victory over Memphis – Washington Post
John Feinstein writes about how Navy bounced back from its disappointing performance in Hawaii, and how Saturday may have been an ugly day for weather in Annapolis, but it was a beautiful day for the Midshipmen.

Hawaii football team earns votes in two national polls – Star Advertiser
Ahead of their cross-country clash with the Black Knights, the Rainbow Warriors (3-0) are getting some national buzz. Is Hawaii a Top 25 team? We might find out on Saturday. Most books have Army favored by about seven points.

Air Force heads into bye week with personnel questions at many key positions – Colorado Springs Gazette
Brent Briggeman writes about Air Force’s injuries and depth chart battles after the Falcons’ loss at FAU. Air Force’s backfield could look a bit different when it takes on Utah State on Sept. 22.

ALL ARMY SPORTS: ‘The kid who FOUGHT’ – Fort Campbell Courier
A profile on Sgt. Joshua Rivera, who will compete in the All-Army Boxing Trials.

’He is a humble, humble guy’ – Steelers.com
Former Army football wide receiver turned Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva talks about teammate James Conner, currently Pittsburgh’s starting running back as Le’Veon Bell continues his holdout.

Zach Abey: The Epitome Of A Navy Football Player – NavySports.com
Abey: “I’m a passionate player, I’m a competitor and I was recruited as a quarterback. It’s something I’ve done for a long time. But I was completely fine with them going with Malcolm. He’s a great athlete and I think he’s going to be a great quarterback for us. I just want to be on the field helping us win.”

Also…

Army vs. Air Force football on Nov. 3 at Michie Stadium is sold out.

Baseley McClaskey of Navy’s women’s soccer team was named Patriot League Defender of the Week. Sydney Cassalia of Army was named Goalkeeper of the Week after notching her fifth clean sheet of the season.

Sean Williams of Navy’s football team was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week. Williams had nine tackles and two forced fumbles vs. Memphis.

Diego Manrique of Navy’s men’s soccer team was named Patriot League Midfielder of the Week.

Navy vs. SMU on Sept. 22 will kickoff at noon (EST) and will be televised on ESPNU or ESPNNEWS.