Wednesday, October 23, 2013

MAC News: Lebanon Valley Starts Home Stretch At Misericordia

Riding four straight wins and one of the nation's best defenses, Lebanon Valley will try to keep its momentum going out of its bye week with a visit to Misericordia. LVC owns a share of first place in the MAC.

Online Video
The game is being videostreamed for free courtesy of

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 and

Weather Forecast
Partly cloudy, 57 degrees and windy.

Going to the Game
[Driving Directions] Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $3 for students.

If You Only Know Five Things
Lebanon Valley enters the home stretch with a share of first place in the Middle Atlantic Conference, tied with Lycoming, Delaware Valley, and Widener at 4-1 in league play.
The game pits Lebanon Valley's MAC-best rushing defense (allowing just 87 yards per game) against Misericordia's MAC-best rushing offense, led by quarterback Jeff Puckett's 842 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Lebanon Valley is coming off its bye week, and was last in action Oct. 12 in a 14-7 upset of 24th-ranked Lycoming. It was the first win over a top-25 team in program history.
LVC earned a bevy of awards after the Lycoming win, including MAC, ECAC, and BSN Defensive Player of the Week honors for Zach Halpin, Team of the Week spots for Halpin and Frank Gaffney, and MAC and ECAC Special Teams Player of the Week accolades for Jake Zeigler.
Lebanon Valley has received votes in the Top 25 each of the last two weeks, and is ranked third in the latest ECAC Lambert Meadowlands east region poll.

Series History
The game is the second meeting all-time with the second-year program ... LVC won 47-7 in their first meeting last year, which was Misericordia's inaugural MAC game ... It was also the first game at the renovated Arnold Field ... That game was delayed 58 minutes at halftime by a severe thunderstorm ... Coach Jim Monos is 1-0 against Misericordia.

Last Year vs. Misericordia
A mid-game storm couldn't slow down Lebanon Valley as it racked up 553 yards of offense en route to a 47-7 win over Misericordia, in what was the first game played on artificial turf at Arnold Field. The Dutchmen (2-0) led 27-0 at the half and had two touchdowns from Evan Fink and catches by Joey Miller and Jake Zeigler. LVC ran for 235 yards overall, while quarterbacks Leo Kyte '13 and Brian Murphy combined for 318 yards passing. Miller's wide-open 22-yard touchdown catch put LVC on the board first, and another big Miller catch set up Fink's first score to open the second quarter. Murphy threw his first career touchdown to Zeigler later in the half, and Fink capped a long drive to end the first half. Brendan Kain slipped to the edge to open the second half from 18 yards out, and LVC finished things off with Kenny King's short effort and a fourth-quarter dive over the top by Alex Kirchner '13.

Scouting Misericordia
Misericordia, a second-year program still searching for its first win, features the MAC's top rushing offense, running a spread option scheme with quarter Jeff Puckett (842 yards, 10 TD rushing) racking up the second-most yards in the league this year. Misericordia has no trouble scoring, with 16 touchdowns on the ground in total and 24.2 points per game. When they do throw, receiver Juwan Petties-Jackson is Puckett's go-to target with 21 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Defense, however, has been a sore spot for the Cougars, allowing 44.7 points and 484 yards per game, both ranking near the bottom of the MAC. Misericordia allows 252.8 yards rushing per game, as well. Linebacker Rob Hart, a freshman, leads the team with 42 tackles, while safety Ben Camacho has two of the team's four interceptions.

Lycoming Recap
Lebanon Valley's defense turned in another dominating effort to lead the Dutchmen in an upset of #24 Lycoming, 14-7, in front of a standing-room-only Oktoberfest Weekend crowd. The Dutchmen captured a share of the Middle Atlantic Conference lead, knotted with the Warriors, Widener, and Delaware Valley. LVC's defense dropped 10 sacks on Lyco's Tyler Jenny, led by a four-sack game by Zach Halpin and three by Frank Gaffney. Joey Miller caught the game-winning touchdown with 11:04 left in the game to follow a second-quarter Jake Zeigler catch, while Lycoming was limited to Ryan Umpleby's touchdown catch in the third quarter. Lebanon Valley, which had never beaten a team ranked in the Top 25, thrilled the packed home crowd with its punishing defense, generating 10 sacks and three interceptions while limiting the Warriors to just 50 yards rushing and 289 yards overall. Halpin lived in the backfield with four sacks and Gaffney set the LVC single-season record with three to go to 13.0 for the year, but it was captain Kevin Smith who put the lid on the game with a fourth-down stuff of Jenny for his second of the day. LVC produced three interceptions, by Fernando Almonte, Andrew Burkholder, and Bryan Kasper.

Noting LVC's Offense
LVC's offense was limited by a very good Lycoming defense last time out, but the Dutchmen did just enough with touchdowns by Jake Zeigler and Joey Miller to win ... LVC ran for 117 yards, led by Austin Hartman's 93-yard day ... Hartman has 90+ yards in each of his last three games ... Brian Murphy had an efficient 10-for-16 day for 181 yards, throwing two touchdowns and an interception, only his third of the season ... He hooked up with Miller for the longest play of the game, a 50-yard strike that set up Zeigler's opening touchdown ... Zeigler's score was a spectacular leaping effort to get up and over a defensive back in the near left corner of the end zone ... Miller's game-winner came with 11:04 left in the game, catching a 13-yard pass falling out of bounds on the left side ... Zeigler had the two-point conversion on that play ... Tyler George had four catches for 62 yards, including a first-quarter spinning one-handed grab that made it onto's Plays of the Week ... LVC's offensive line allowed just one sack in the game, and have given up just 10 through six games ... The offense will get a boost this week with the return of senior tight end Nate Luckenbill, who has not played since being injured at Widener.

Noting LVC's Defense
Lebanon Valley's defense has been dominant over the last three weeks, and capped the run with a superb 10-sack, three-turnover game against #24 Lycoming ... LVC has the MAC's top defense in scoring allowed (16.7), rushing yards (87.0), and total defense (292.7) ... The rushing defense ranks 13th in NCAA Division III, and LVC is second in the nation in sacks with 4.67 per game ... LVC's front seven has been very tough this season, led by linebacker Frank Gaffney, who is the NCAA sacks leader (13.0) and second in tackles for a loss (17.0 for 104 yards) ... Gaffney leads the team with 51 tackles ... Nose tackle Kevin Smith, who had two big sacks including the late game-clincher on fourth down against Lycoming, has 36 tackles, while defensive ends Zach Halpin (23 T, 6.5 S, 6 hurries) and Joey Scerbo (22 T, 1.0 S, 4 hurries) have been in opponents' backfields all season long ... Halpin had a career game against Lycoming with four sacks, four hurries, and six tackles to earn MAC, ECAC, and BSN Defensive Player of the Week honors ... Inside linebackers David Kennedy (34 T) and Andrew Burkholder (24 T) have helped key the run defense, but Burkholder also has two interceptions and a break-up in pass coverage ... Freshman Fernando Almonte made his first career start against Lycoming, subbing for injuried Ryan Melley at corner, and had an interception and seven tackles ... Almonte has picks in consecutive games.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
Jake Zeigler highlighted LVC's special teams effort against Lycoming, earning MAC and ECAC Player of the Week honors with solid punting and catching a two-point conversion ... Zeigler averaged 39.2 yards per punt with three of six inside the 20 - including one inside the 1-yardline - and had a season-long 52-yarder ... His two-point conversion on LVC's second touchdown was the team's first of the year, and evened the score out after Sean Fakete missed the PAT earlier in the game ... Mike Smith got the start at kick returner for Bryan Ek, and had a five-yard punt return and a 24-yard kick return ... Matt Richmond took a 17-yard kick return and did not get any yardage on one punt attempt ... Fakete averaged 58 yards per kickoff without a touchback, his best day since the Montclair State game.

LVC In The Thick Of MAC Race
The Middle Atlantic Conference has been a meatgrinder this year, and heading into Week 8, no fewer than four teams are tied for the conference lead - Lebanon Valley, Delaware Valley, Lycoming, and Widener are all at 4-1. Complicating matters, they all have lost to each other - LVC to Widener, Widener and Del Val to Lycoming, and Lycoming to LVC. The key match-ups remaining: LVC at Del Val next week, and Widener at Del Val in Week 11.

Getting Noticed
Following the win over Lycoming, Lebanon Valley has been receiving votes in the Top 25 poll. The Dutchmen received eight votes in each of the last two polls. Regionally, Lebanon Valley moved up one spot in the second edition of the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Poll, ranking third in the Division III ranking. The poll ranks teams located in New York, New Jersey, New England, and Pennsylvania, or teams in bordering states which play at least half of their schedule against eastern teams.

ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Poll
1. Hobart 5-0
2. Johns Hopkins 6-0
3. Lebanon Valley 5-1
4. Trinity-Conn. 5-0
5. St. John Fisher 5-1
6. Salisbury 4-2
7. Thomas More 5-1
8. Wesleyan 5-0
9. Delaware Valley 5-1
10. Ithaca 5-1

LVC Defense Racks Up Awards
Lebanon Valley's defense earned multiple awards after the Lycoming win. The entire starting unit was recognized by Beyond Sports Network as its defense of the week, and Zach Halpin was singled out as the BSN Defensive Player of the Week. Halpin also earned MAC and ECAC Defensive Player of the Week honors, and earned a spot on the Team of the Week along with Frank Gaffney. Jake Zeigler was recognized as the MAC and ECAC Special Teams Player of the Week for his punting game.

Monos Nears 100 Wins
Already the program's winningest head coach, Jim Monos is approaching another career milestone - his 100th win. Heading into the Misiericordia game, Monos has 98 wins.

Gaffney Leads NCAA In Sacks, Sets LVC Season Record
To say Frank Gaffney has been a solid addition to LVC's defense this season would be an understatement. The junior outside linebacker leads the nation in sacks, racking up 13.0 (2.2 per game) this season. He is also second in tackles for a loss with 17.0 (2.8 per game). He broke LVC's single-season sacks record in just six games, surpassing the mark of 12.5 set by Zach Bleiler '11. This season, Gaffney has twice been named the MAC Defensive Player of the Week and has been on the Team of the Week three times.

Run Defense Holds the Line
Lebanon Valley's rushing defense has been one of the best in the nation this year, and has been especially dominant over the last two games. LVC is allowing just 87 yards per game on the ground, ranking atop the MAC and 13th in NCAA Division III. Against Wilkes and Lycoming, the Dutchmen allowed just 52 and 50 yards of rushing, respectively. This season, the Valley has limited opponents to just 2.4 yards per rush, but most telling is how hard it is to score against LVC on the ground - opponents have managed just one rushing touchdown in the last four games.

Picking Their Pocket
LVC's defense has helped the Dutchmen be +3 in the turnover battle through six games, and interceptions have been a key part of that trend. Lebanon Valley has picked off nine passes this year, with six different players securing turnovers including two each by Bryan Kasper, Andrew Burkholder, and Fernando Almonte. Eight of those nine interceptions have come in the last three games - three vs. FDU-Florham and Lycoming and two at Wilkes - and LVC is +5 in that span.

Keeping It Clean
One thing not to expect when LVC plays at Misericordia - penalties. The Cougars are not only the MAC's least-penalized team this season, they have had fewer flags thrown on them than any other team in the nation, averaging just 26.2 penalty yards per game and 20 flags total in six games. The Dutchmen are third in the MAC with 44.2 penalty yards per game.

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 seven offensive plays of 40 or more yards in the first half of the season; Joey Miller owns four of them, with completions of 43, 44, and 50 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 visit Delaware Valley on Nov. 2.