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No college football rivals have played each other more often than Lehigh and Lafayette. They meet for the 150th time Nov. 22 at Yankee Stadium, and that game will also mark the 118th straight year of "The Rivalry," the longest uninterrupted streak in the country.
Present at Saturday’s game will be former Lafayette captain George Hossenlopp and former Lehigh captain Joe Weiss, who both played 50 years ago at the 100th meeting. They joined Bill Littlefield to discuss the historic matchup.
BL: Joe, how important is the Lafayette game compared to other games on the schedule?
JW: It's at least two times the attention of the rest of the schedule. As soon as you get to the campus, people are talking about the Big Game, the rivalry, the Lafayette game. It doesn't matter what you do the rest of the season, but you gotta beat Lafayette.
BL: George, after that game in 1964, you were so disappointed that you didn’t talk to the press. Now 50 years have passed. Can you tell us what happened in that game?
GH: Well, it was a tough game, an even game. We had had a miserable year, and we had an opportunity to win it in the end, and Joe and his guys stopped us on maybe the one- or two-inch line. And that was a big disappointment, obviously.
JW: And the idea that it ended in a tie. Oh, people, people would say, "Oh, well, that's just about right," and "that's fitting." George and I, I'm sure, were like, "Nope, I woulda stayed there until somebody won."
GH: Absolutely, absolutely.
JW: I think about it often.
As soon as you get to the campus, people are talking about the Big Game, The Rivalry, the Lafayette game. It doesn’t matter what you do the rest of the season, but you gotta beat Lafayette.Joe Weiss, 1964 Lehigh captain
BL: Fifty years later, still thinking about it.
JW: Let me just say, my thinking was not particularly clear because somewhere in the second quarter I got smacked in the head and have a concussion. It's the only one of my life. And I didn't play the rest of the game, and I can only vaguely remember somebody telling me the game's over.
GH: Wow, I didn't even know that.
BL: I have to say, your coach must have shown extraordinary, good judgement because in those days they'd say throw some dirt on your forehead and get back in there when somebody got a concussion.
JW: They could have put me back in the game, but I wouldn't have known which way to run.
BL: Oh man, that is some story. Now I understand you two were childhood friends. Joe, what was it like to play each other in such an important game?
[sidebar title="Concussion Coverage" width="630" align="right"] For the record, Only A Game doesn't normally make light of head injuries. [/sidebar]JW: Well, besides George, there were several other teammates that we played against. And we kind of tried to bring a little bit extra, bring the A game, maybe hit somebody a little bit harder, so that they knew we were playing against 'em.
GH: I gotta tell you, Joe, when you were talking about your concussion, which, frankly, I don't even remember, I had a very good game on defense that day, and I hope I was part of the play that knocked you out of the game.
JW: You coulda been.
[sidebar title="From Soldier To Wide Out" width="630" align="right"] After serving in the U.S. Army, Daniel Rodriguez is now a Clemson wide receiver. [/sidebar]
BL: All right, Joe, according to Lehigh’s timeline of 'The Rivalry,' fans set their own grandstand on fire to celebrate a particularly exciting victory back in 1888. I wonder if the Yankees should be worried about their $1.5 billion stadium?
JW: There could be a little anxiety there maybe. In a way, I guess, we needed to lead a little bit separate life. At that time, both being all-male colleges, they got, especially the freshmen, got so wired up, that the fights over the goalpost — using the goalpost to beat up somebody from the other side — it did get kind of — not kind of — it did get out of hand.
GH: And what did you say, wired up? I'd say oiled up, Joe.
JW: Oh, yeah, beer was a thing that sustained some of that excitement, and they had nothing else to do. They'd just go there and get crazy — and that's what they did.
BL: Now George, Harvard and Yale first played in 1875. That’s nine years before Lehigh and Lafayette first played each other. Tell me why you think your rivalry is more worthy of our attention?
GH: Well, I think the number of games stands alone. And I also think the proximity of the schools in the Lehigh Valley — 25 minutes apart; maybe 20 minutes apart — made it special. And we also drew from the same area's kids, so I think that might set us apart a little bit.
JW: Yeah, I agree with George completely, and I think part of the thing that keeps it on fire is the idea that the schools are something like 12 miles apart. And the Lehigh Valley, you know, it's like the people all over there — it doesn't matter whether you go in the store or the bar — they're talking about the Lehigh-Lafayette game. Even if they didn't go to Lehigh or Lafayette, it's a big deal right there, so you don't want to disappoint.
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This segment aired on November 15, 2014.
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