LOCK HAVEN - One last chance. That is the scenario facing the Lock Haven University football team as the Bald Eagles hope to pick up a win Saturday to snap their 52-game losing skid in the season finale.
Five years ago in the final game of the 2007 season, LHU defeated Clarion 17-14 in overtime to close out a 1-10 season. Unfortunately for the Bald Eagles, that was the last time they tasted victory.
After 10 unsuccessful tries this season to end the frustration of not being able to get the monkey off their backs, the Bald Eagles will entertain Cheyney University in the 2012 season finale Saturday afternoon at Hubert Jack Stadium.
Going into the contest, LHU head coach John Allen believes that his players don't necessarily feel any extra pressure in their efforts to come up with the win. As a matter of fact, for the Bald Eagles, it will be business as usual.
"It is not a sense of urgency to panic because it is the last game of the season," Allen said. "It is a sense of urgency because it means we have one more chance this year. We have another game, it is at home and our kids want to play well. They want to show how much they have grown over this entire season with all of the ups and downs. They really want to come out, perform, play well and finish the year in front of the home crowd."
Although Cheyney is just 1-9 with a non-conference win over Lincoln University (34-21) to open the season, the Wolves have shown some firepower this season.
Bloomsburg will be playing for the PSAC championship Saturday, and the Huskies had to score 13 fourth-quarter points for a 27-13 win over the stubborn Wolves a few weeks ago.
"They played Bloomsburg tough, but in my opinion, Bloomsburg got away from what Bloomsburg does best and that is run the football," Allen said. "They started throwing it and got some turnovers in that area that put them (Bloomsburg) behind. They (Bloomsburg) got back to doing what they do best and that is running the football and they ended up pulling away. What happened in their game with Bloomsburg can be a little deceiving, but they are a good football team. They are very similar to us in that they play hard and scrap."
In preparing for every game, any head coach always has an area or two that concerns him most about the opposition. In facing the Wolves, Allen's only concern is that his troops stay focused, play with discipline and don't get away from the things that have been good to them.
"They are capable of putting drives together on offense," said Allen. "They have been able to put together eight, nine-play drives where they have put points on the board. Defensively they have come up with some turnovers that has given them good field position at times. There is no question about it. They are very capable. They are going to come in here excited. I have already talked with their coach and they are looking forward to this opportunity. This is what they have been waiting for all season."
So when you put all of the cards on the table, how do the Bald Eagles match up with Wolves?
"I like our matchup with them as far as athleticism is concerned," Allen said. "They have some players. They have two defensive ends who are very good pass rushers similar to some of the guys we have seen when we played IUP and Cal. Their linebackers can run from sideline to sideline, but I feel good about our matchup. They just pose an interesting challenge for our defense because they run that Navy option and that means you have to play assignment football. They don't throw the ball a ton and that is kind of nice because a lot of the spread teams we played this year had quarterback runs down the field. We have to stay disciplined and defend the run game. If we do that, we should be OK."
The 2012 LHU squad has been referred to many times as being quite resilient and that was illustrated by the many times during the season they bounced off the floor of adversity and kept moving on. That was largely due to the group of red shirt and four-year seniors who kept things together. To send them on their way with a victory in their final collegiate game would be huge.
"I think those guys are really focused and I feel they are giving us great leadership right now," Allen said of the seniors. "They know their time has come, but they also want to go out on the right note. They want to start something new for the guys who are behind them. I told the seniors last year that they set the foundation for what we are going to be and this group of seniors has continued to do what last year's group started. I am very appreciative for what they have done, not only this year for much of the past two years."
Kickoff time for the season finale Saturday afternoon is 1 p.m.