Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lebanon Valley Game Notes vs #24 Lycoming College

WOLnews Photo
Lebanon Valley hosts conference leader #24 Lycoming on Oktoberfest Weekend, looking to capture a share of first place in the MAC. The game matches up two of the MAC's best defenses, with both carrying plenty of momentum into the game.

Online Video
The game is being video streamed live and for free on LVCtv.

On the Radio
The game will be broadcast on the Flying Dutchmen Radio Network on WMSS 91.1 FM in Middletown and WWSM 1510 AM. John Wilsbach and Bryan Keyser will call the action. The game will be streamed live and for free at WMSSFM.com and GoDutchmen.com.

Weather Forecast
[Forecast] Overcast, 73 degrees.

Going to the Game
Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $2 for students.

If You Only Know Five Things
Lebanon Valley owns the MAC's top-rated defense, allowing only 293.4 yards per game and 94.4 yards per game on the ground.
If Lebanon Valley beats Lycoming, it would force a four-way tie atop the MAC with Delaware Valley and Widener, and the Dutchmen would go 5-1 for the first time since 2009. If Lycoming wins, it will retain sole possession of first place. The Dutchmen are aiming for their sixth straight Oktoberfest Weekend win. The Class of 2014 would be only the fourth in school history to win all four of their homecoming games. Following the Wilkes game, junior linebacker Frank Gaffney was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week and was the MAC Defensive Player of the Week, both for the second time this season. Gaffney is second in the nation with 10 sacks in five games. Five members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be introduced before the game, including football alumni Tony DeMarco '70 and Tony Bernarduci '98.

The LVC-Lycoming Series
The game is the 29th meeting all-time ... Lycoming leads the series 24-4, winning the first 21 games ... LVC has won four of the last seven ... The first meeting was on Nov. 19, 1955, a 25-7 Lycoming win ... The two teams played in 1956, then did not play again until 1985 ... Lycoming won 10-7 at a snow-covered Arnold Field in 2010 during their last trip to Annville ... Coach Jim Monos is 4-15 against Lyco ... LVC has won five straight Oktoberfest Weekend games ... Lebanon Valley has never beaten an opponent ranked in the D3football.com Top 25.

Scouting Lycoming
Lycoming broke into the national top 25 this week with d3football.com ranking them 24th on the back of consecutive upsets of Widener and Delaware Valley in the last two weeks. The Warriors play tough defense, allowing 18.4 points per game, led by linebacker Tyler Denike's 35 tackles. Offensively, Lycoming relies heavily on the run game, with Craig Needhammer having a great season at 650 yards and six touchdowns, but quarterback Tyler Jenny is one of the MAC's most accurate passers, completing 66 percent of his strikes for 974 yards and seven scores through five games.

Wilkes Recap
A punishing defensive effort carried Lebanon Valley to a 17-6 win at Wilkes last week to keep the Dutchmen in the MAC race. Playing in the 1,000th game in program history, LVC's defense put Wilkes' Taylor Young on his back all afternoon with eight sacks, including four by Frank Gaffney and two from Zach Halpin. Andrew Burkholder and Fernando Almonte each had interceptions in key spots of the game. Wilkes was held to just 153 yards of offense, including 52 rushing yards on 38 carries. Austin Hartman racked up his second consecutive 100-yard game, breaking free for a 68-yard touchdown on the game's opening series, while Nate Myers caught LVC's other touchdown late in the fourth quarter after Sean Fakete converted a 33-yard field goal.

Noting LVC's Offense
LVC's running game has emerged in the last two weeks, going for 283 yards against FDU-Florham and 197 at Wilkes ... Austin Hartman had his second straight 100-yard game against Wilkes, rushing for 139 yards and a 68-yard touchdown on LVC's opening drive ... Hartman came up with three fourth-quarter first downs as LVC tried to hold onto a slim lead ... Brian Murphy threw for 138 yards on 11 completions, with a late 20-yard touchdown going to tight end Nate Myers ... Joey Miller led LVC receivers with 61 yards on three catches, and Jake Zeigler, Evan Fink, and Myers each had two catches ... LVC's offensive line did not allow a sack at Wilkes ... LT Tyler Dean made a shoestring tackle as the last man back to save a touchdown on Darrius Bookard's interception return late in the first half.

Noting LVC's Defense
LVC has the MAC's best defense by yardage, allowing only 293.4 yards per game ... The run defense is also the MAC's best at 94.4 yards per game ... LVC had its best defensive outing of the year at Wilkes, holding the Colonels to just 153 yards of offense and 52 rushing yards ... The Dutchmen hit Taylor Young for eight sacks, including four by Frank Gaffney and two by Zach Halpin ... Halpin was especially disruptive off the line with a batted pass, a hurry, and multiple big hits on Young to go with his two sacks ... Joey Scerbo had six tackles from the other end spot, including half a sack, while nose tackle Kevin Smith made six stops with a pass bat ... Andrew Burkholder intercepted a pass and had 1.5 sacks ... Freshman Fernando Almonte made his first career interception to stop a Wilkes drive in the second half, and he had a career-high six tackles ... LVC held Wilkes to 5-for-17 on third down.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
Sean Fakete hit a key 33-yard field goal in the fourth quarter last week at Wilkes that put LVC ahead 10-6 ... Jake Zeigler had the best punting day of his career, averaging 41.4 yards per punt (his first 40+ day) with a long of 48 yards ... After a good outing against FDU-Florham, LVC's returners had a tough day, getting four punt chances for a combined seven yards with a fumble, and only seeing one kick return chance ... Billy Powanda leads LVC with seven special teams tackles this season, including six on kick returns.

Four In A Row?
This year's senior class is aiming to something only three other classes have ever done at LVC - win all four of their homecoming games. The class of 2014 could join the previous two senior classes and the class of 1977 if they could get a win against Lycoming on Oktoberfest Weekend. The Dutchmen have won five in a row on Oktoberfest Weekend.

LVC In Thick Of MAC Race
The Middle Atlantic Conference has been a meatgrinder this year, with Lycoming the third team - along with Delaware Valley and Widener - to have appeared in the D3football.com top 25 poll. The Warriors have upset those two teams in consecutive weeks to take over sole possession of first place at 4-0, while LVC sits tied with Del Val and Widener at 3-1, losing to the Pride but yet to play the Aggies. It all means that LVC theoretically controls its own destiny for at least a share of its first MAC title since 1969 if it could win out; getting the NCAA automatic bid in that case would require Widener to lose another game along the way, however.

Gaffney Earns MAC, D3football.com Honors
Linebacker Frank Gaffney has had a terrific season so far, and the junior has picked up his second MAC Defensive Player of the Week and D3football.com Team of the Week awards of the year. Gaffney had four sacks and a blocked PAT at Wilkes, and he is second in NCAA Division III with 10.0 sacks through five games this season. The LVC single-season sack record is 12.5, set by Zach Bleiler '11 in 2010.

Defense Sets The Tone
Lebanon Valley's defense enters today's game ranked atop the Middle Atlantic Conference in total defense, surrendering just 293.4 yards per game and 18.6 points per game, which ranks a close third behind Widener (17.4) and Lycoming (18.4). LVC ranks second in sacks (18) and has the best run defense in the league at 94.4 yards per game.  Over the past three games, the Dutchmen starters have allowed just 16 points.

Receivers Come Up Money
LVC's receiving corps has been impressive this season when it comes to "money plays" - those that result in first downs or touchdowns. Jake Zeigler leads the team with 13 first downs and a touchdown on 18 total catches, while Joey Miller has eight first downs and a touchdown on 11 catches. But it's Tyler George and Darryl Sweeper that can lay claim to being the most money among the wide-outs - they each have seven first downs and two touchdowns on nine catches this season, a 100% rate.

Halpin Has Breakout Game
Senior defensive end Zach Halpin had one of the best games of his career at Wilkes, racking up four tackles with two sacks, a batted pass, and a hurry. It seemed like Halpin was living in the backfield as he laid several big hits on Taylor Young to disrupt the Wilkes freshman into an 11-for-26 day with two interceptions. This season, Halpin is the MAC's top defensive lineman in pass break-ups, batting down four this season.

Run Game Finds Its Rhythm
The running game, long the bread and butter of LVC's offense under Jim Monos, hadn't quite found its stride through the opening three games of the season. Rotating three young tailbacks in Austin Hartman, Matt Richmond, and Brendan Irving, the Dutchmen averaged just 130 yards per game and 3.1 yards per rush, compared to 165 yards per game and 3.9 yards per rush over the same span last year. The last two weeks, however, have been a different story thanks to the emergence of Hartman as the feature back with consecutive 100+ yard games. LVC is averaging 240 yards per game and 5.5 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns in the last two weeks, led by Hartman (269 yards, 5 TDs) and Irving (117 yards, 4 TDs). The offensive line has been a big part of the resurgence, as shown in a key stat: In a combined 50 carries, Hartman and Irving have lost just one yard, and Hartman has not run for a loss in the last two games.

Dutchmen Show Big Play Potential
Big play potential has been a hallmark of LVC's offense the past few seasons, and 2013 has been no different. The Dutchmen have busted out six offensive plays of 40 or more yards in the first half of the season; Joey Miller owns three of them, with completions of 43 and 44 yards to go with a 70-yard touchdown catch. Jake Zeigler owns the longest play, a 73-yard TD against King's, and Austin Hartman had his career-long 68-yard touchdown run last week at Wilkes. Matt Richmond's 60-yard shovel pass against FDU-Florham is also in the mix, and he had a 51-yard kick return in the same game. The longest play of the year for LVC remains a defensive one, however, with Bryan Ek's 75-yard interception take-back atop the list.

Next Time
LVC will take its bye week before visiting Misericordia Oct. 26.

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