Saturday, September 7, 2013

MAC Football: Defense Turns The Lights Out On Montclair

Lebanon Valley 15, Montclair State 14
ANNVILLE, Pa. - Lebanon Valley's defense carried the Dutchmen to a thrilling 15-14 season-opening win over Montclair State Saturday under the lights at Arnold Field.

In the much-anticipated first night game in the stadium's history, Evan Fink and Nate Luckenbill scored touchdowns to go with Sean Fakete's career-long 42-yard field goal, and the defense held the Red Hawk offense at bay in the fourth quarter.

Both offenses were held under 300 yards, but LVC made the most by converting all three of its red zone opportunities. Brian Murphy completed 12 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown to Luckenbill, while LVC's running-back-by-committee approach saw Fink and Austin Hartman lead with 50 yards each.

Ryan Davies was 19-of-32 for 148 yards and a score for Montclair, but he was hit three times, including third-down sacks by Frank Gaffney, Zach Halpin, and Alex Beamesderfer, as LVC kept him off balance all night long.

Safety Bryan Kasper led the defense with 11 tackles, including a punishing hit late in the fourth on Malcolm Robinso that helped set the tone on Montclair's final drive.

Fakete's field was the only points of the first quarter, but Montclair got on the board with AJ Scoppa's two-yard bounce to the outside midway through the second quarter. LVC responded on the next drive, going on a 15-play, 75-yard drive capped by two barreling Fink runs to score from 10 yards out and take a 9-7 lead after a blocked PAT.

Davies found Omar Morales for a touchdown midway through the third quarter to take a 14-9 lead, but that would be the Red Hawks' final points of the night as the Dutchmen opened the fourth quarter with a 64-yard drive ending on Luckenbill's six-yard catch to go up 15-14.

LVC forced punt on the next series, and Ryan Melley intercepted Davies mid-quarter before Hartman gave it back on a fumble. The Valley forced a three-and-out, however, and then stopped the Red Hawks on their final drive after a holding penalty backed them up.

The Dutchmen head to #20 Widener next week to start MAC play.

Game notes: The game was the second leg of the two-year MAC-NJAC Challenge, with LVC going 2-0 ... Fakete's previous career-long field goal was a 40-yarder hit last year ... His field goal, the 17th of his career, also moved him into a tie for second on the all-time list with Doug Zook '92 ... LVC is 5-1 in its last six season openers and went 2-0 in the Montclair State series after winning 31-21 last year ... It was the first night game for LVC since a tilt at Albright in 1998. The last "home" night game was back on Oct. 7, 1960, against Drexel at Lebanon High's Alumni Stadium ... Gaffney turned in a big night in his debut with five solo tackles, a sack, and two batted passes, including one that nearly resulted in a pick-six ... Scoppa was just shy of 100 yards on the ground for Montclair at 97 yards on 26 carries ... Jake Zeigler punted seven times, including a booming 52-yarder, and put three inside the 20.