Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PREVIEW: LVC Heads To Del Val For MAC Showdown

Lebanon Valley photo by Tim Flynn '05
With the prospect of the program's first MAC title since 1969 in sight, Lebanon Valley travels to Delaware Valley for a critical match-up as they try to maintain a share of first place in the Middle Atlantic Conference and earn Jim Monos his 100th win.

If You Only Know Five Things
Head Coach Jim Monos would win his 100th career game with a victory over Delaware Valley.
At 5-1 in MAC play, Lebanon Valley is in a three-way tie for first place in the conference, along with Lycoming and Widener.

LVC sophomore running back Austin Hartman is the reigning ECAC and MAC Offensive player of the Week after rushing for 228 yards and four touchdowns last week in a 31-14 win at Misericordia.
Lebanon Valley has received votes in the Top 25 each of the last three weeks, and is ranked third in the latest ECAC Lambert Meadowlands east region poll.
LVC's defense ranks atop the MAC in points allowed (16.3 per game), total defense (290.3), and rushing defense (98.3). Linebacker Frank Gaffney is the nation's leader in sacks with 13 this year.

Series History
Today's game is the 31st meeting all-time ... DVC leads the series 19-11, and the Aggies have won 10 straight ... LVC's last win came back in 2002, a 33-26 overtime thriller ... This will be the 29th consecutive year they have met, dating back to 1985 ... Head Coach Jim Monos is 6-14 against the Aggies ... The first meeting in the series was Nov. 13, 1965, a 34-18 LVC win ... The Dutchmen have not won in Doylestown since 2001.

Last Year vs. Del Val
Six turnovers doomed Lebanon Valley as Delaware Valley scored 21 unanswered points to end the game and win, 31-10, at Arnold Field. The Dutchmen lost two fumbles and threw four interceptions as the Aggies ran for 276 yards. The game was sloppy both ways, with Del Val coughing up three fumbles as well. Del Val's Alquann Jones ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns, including a back-breaker 56-yard burst up the seam in the third quarter. Kyle Schuberth went for 89 yards and a score, and quarterback Aaron Wilmer added 76 yards and a touchdown. LVC combined for 108 yards on the ground led by Conrad Heisey '13's career-high 14 touches for 48 yards, and Pete Panichi '13's 38 yards. Leo Kyte '13 had an early touchdown on a QB sneak. Kyte threw for 180 yards, but his four interceptions gave Del Val momentum as Wilmer had a quiet 136 yards on 10-of-14 passing. Bryan Kasper led the defense with 11 tackles; DJ Poligone '13 forced two fumbles, and Kevin Smith and Drew Murphy each had sacks.

Misericordia Recap
Four touchdowns by Austin Hartman spurred a smashmouth ground attack as Lebanon Valley beat Misericordia 31-14 to maintain a share of first place in the Middle Atlantic Conference. The win was the 99th for coach Jim Monos. LVC had the second-best rushing day in program history, going off for 441 yards led by Hartman's 228 and Brendan Irving's 154. Hartman's total was the fourth-most ever in a game, and he and Irving both went for 100+ yards for the second time this season. LVC's line was dominant in both phases, not allowing a sack while pushing LVC to its highest rushing total since 1989. The Cougars marched 75 yards downfield and scored on Puckett's finisher to take the lead on their opening drive, but Hartman answered back with his own one-yard plunge to tie the game later in the first quarter. The Dutchmen drove deep but were stopped to start the second, setting up Sean Fakete's 25-yard field goal, and Hartman made it 17-7 later in the quarter with a 16-yard run to cap a 72-yard, seven-play drive. The second half started sloppily for LVC, which turned the ball over on three straight possessions to begin the third. Brian Murphy was picked off twice but Misericordia couldn't capitalize; after the second, however, Matt Richmond couldn't handle the ensuing punt, and Puckett found Juwan Petties-Jackson for a 31-yard strike two plays later to cut the lead to 17-14. Hartman answered on the next drive, scoring from two yards out to go up 24-14, and after the defense forced a punt, the run game again set up a three-yard touchdown, Hartman's fourth, to finish it at 31-14 midway through the fourth quarter.

Noting LVC's Offense
LVC's offense had one of the top rushing days in program history last week, going for 441 yards on the ground, the second-highest total ever and most since 1989 ... LVC ran the ball 62 times, averaging 7.1 yards per carry ... For the first time in program history, LVC had two 150+ yard rushers: Austin Hartman, who racked up 228 yards on 31 carries, and Brendan Irving, who had 154 on 20 touches ... Hartman scored four touchdowns in a game for the second this season, tying the school rushing TD record ... Hartman's yardage total was the fourth-highest ever in a game ... Matt Richmond (3-24), Brendan Kain (4-8), and Evan Fink (2-12) also had carries along with a pair of scrambles for 17 yards by quarterback Brian Murphy ... LVC all but abandoned the passing game at Misericordia as Murphy threw just five times, completing one pass to Jake Zeigler and throwing two interceptions ... LVC dominated time of possession as a result, holding the ball for 36:33, a season high ... LVC went 5-for-5 in the red zone ... One two-deep change as center Aaron Cummins will return to the starting line-up after missing the Misericordia game ... Freshman Bryant Weller earned the start in his place last week, the first of his career ... Senior captain Brendan Kozub will start his 30th game at left guard, and he leads the team in career starts ... The offensive line was also helped by the return of tight end Nate Luckenbill, who had not played since the Widener game ... Luckenbill and Nate Myers featured in two-TE sets for much of the game.

Noting LVC's Defense
After their opening touchdown drive, Misericordia was forced into five straight stoppages by either punt or on downs ... LVC held the Cougars to 1-of-8 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down ... For the first time this season, the Dutchmen did not record a sack, but did not have much chance to get one against the run-heavy MU offense ... Misericordia, which averaged 293 yards rushing coming into the game, was limited to 166 yards on the ground and only 95 excluding their opening drive ... They also passed for just 112 yards on 18 attempts ... LVC has allowed 14 or fewer points four times this year, including in three straight games ... David Kennedy led LVC's defense with nine tackles last week ... Frank Gaffney and Zach Halpin each had tackles for a loss among five stops overall, and Halpin had LVC's only hurry ... Kennedy and Bryan Kasper each broke up passes ... LVC was buoyed by the return of captain Ryan Melley at cornerback ... He contributed five tackles after missing a start with an injury ... Kasper added to a solid season at safety, as he's quietly become one of LVC's top defensive stoppers with 36 tackles, two interceptions, and a fumble force and recovery this season ... Gaffney leads the team with 56 tackles, including 42 solo stops ... Zach Wierman and Halpin lead the team with four break-ups apiece in pass coverage.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
Sean Fakete had a strong game at Misericordia, knocking in a 25-yard field goal early in the game and going 4-for-4 on PAT attempts ... He averaged 56 yards per kick-off with two touchbacks ... It was a tougher day for returners, as Matt Richmond fumbled a punt return and managed 14 yards on two others ... Richmond and Bryan Ek, who returned from injury last week, averaged a solid 24.6 yards per kick return ... There wasn't much for Jake Zeigler to do on special teams as LVC did not punt at Misericordia ... The last time that happened was Sept. 25, 2004, against Moravian.

LVC In The Thick Of MAC Race
The Middle Atlantic Conference has been a meatgrinder this year, and heading into Week 9, three teams remain tied for first place - Lebanon Valley, Widener, and Lycoming - after Delaware Valley was knocked out of the top spot last week by King's. There are many scenarios at play, but one thing is simple - if LVC wins out, they will earn, at least, a share of the title. In the MAC, teams tied for first share the title, no matter who gets the NCAA automatic bid. What's more complicated is who gets that NCAA bid, since LVC beat Lycoming, who beat Widener, who beat LVC. Right now, if Lebanon Valley, Lycoming, and Widener finish tied as they stand today, Widener would get the AQ on point differential (Widener is +5, LVC is 0, and Lycoming -5 in games among the three). If Widener was to lose a game and Lebanon Valley and Lycoming finish tied, LVC would get the AQ on their head-to-head win. If Lycoming was to lose and Widener and LVC are tied, Widener would get the AQ based on their head-to-head win.

Monos Goes For Win #100
Already the program's winningest head coach, Jim Monos is approaching another career milestone - his 100th win. Heading into the Delaware Valley game, Monos has 99 wins. He would be the first coach in program history to reach the century milestone.

Hartman Named ECAC, MAC Player of the Week, Runs Into Record Books
Austin Hartman had a day to remember at Misericordia, racking up 228 yards (the fourth-most single-game total in LVC history) and four touchdowns, tying his career high and school record. For his efforts, he was named the ECAC and MAC Offensive Player of the Week, making him the fifth player of the week LVC has produced this year.

Six Straight Winning Seasons For LVC
With its sixth win of the season last week, LVC has ensured its sixth straight winning season. That's tied for the longest such streak in program history and the first time it's happened in a half-century. LVC compiled six straight winning campaigns between 1941 and 1949 (sandwiched around three seasons abandoned due to World War II), and again between 1958 and 1963.

Getting Noticed
For the past three weeks, Lebanon Valley has been receiving votes in the Top 25 poll. The Dutchmen received 15 votes in last week's poll, up from eight the previous two polls. Regionally, Lebanon Valley remained at third in this week's ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Poll. 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.

Keeping It Clean
The Dutchmen are one of the nation's least-penalized teams this season. Through seven games, LVC averages just four flags per game, ranking eighth in NCAA Division III, and are ranked 17th in fewest penalty yards per game at 38.6.

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 (1.9 per game) this season. He is also third in D-III in tackles for a loss with 18.0 (2.6 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 98.3 yards per game on the ground, ranking atop the MAC and 19th in NCAA Division III. Facing the MAC's top rushing offense last week in Misericordia, which averaged 293 yards on the ground per game, LVC allowed 170 yards, and discounting the Cougar's opening 75-yard drive as the Dutchmen adjusted to their difficult-to-contain spread option look, Misericordia had only 95 yards rushing.

Scouting Del Val
The Aggies fell from among the first-place teams with an overtime loss to a streaking King's team last week, as Del Val was without all-MAC quarterback Aaron Wilmer for the second straight week. Wilmer is listed as the starter against Lebanon Valley. Delaware Valley's offense is ranked second in the MAC in scoring (30.4), rushing (209 tyg) and total yardage (403.3 ypg). Preseason All-American Kyle Schuberth has 804 yards and 10 touchdowns on 141 carries this season, coming off a 32-carry, 188-yard effort against King's. Wilmer has completed 82 of 140 passes for 1,072 yards and eight touchdowns while also adding 168 yards and two scores on the ground. Charlie Marterella started twice in Wilmer's absence and is 23-for-42 for 250 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions. Defensively, the Aggies are number one in the MAC in passing defense (179.6 ypg), fourth in total yardage (331.1 ypg), fifth in scoring (22.0 pp) and sixth in rushing (151.6 avg). Safety Danny Wynne leads the team and ranks second in the MAC with 72 tackles.

Next Time
LVC will host Stevenson on Senior Day Nov. 9.