Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dutchmen Rally To Beat Del Val In OT, Take Over First Place

Lebanon Valley photo by Tim Flynn '05
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. -An improbable comeback. A critical fumble. A buzzer-beating touchdown. Jim Monos' 100th win. A walk-off field goal. And first place in the Middle Atlantic Conference.

In a game that had everything and then some, Lebanon Valley beat Delaware Valley 34-31 in overtime with Sean Fakete's 26-yard field goal sealing an incredible victory that secured the Dutchmen (7-1, 6-1 MAC) sole possession of first place and control of their own destiny for their first MAC title since 1969.

The Dutchmen rallied back from a 24-7 deficit in the second half, reeling off 24 straight points and going ahead with fourth-quarter touchdowns by Tyler George and Brendan Irving. A stunning game-tying touchdown by Del Val's Bobby Marterella with no time left in the game sent the game to overtime, and after Brandon Snyder's 42-yard field goal hit the right upright, Fakete hit a no-doubter from 26 to win it.

"To do it here, 24-7 we were down, and this football team just doesn't blink," said Monos, who is the first coach in program history to hit the century mark. "This win today wasn't about number 100, it was about this football team and the road we're on. I'm really proud of them."

Irving ran for 143 yards and a touchdown, while Brian Murphy threw for 198 yards and a score to pace LVC. Joey Miller had a season-best seven catches for 103 yards to put LVC in position during the second half. Aaron Wilmer had a superb game for Del Val, throwing for 335 yards and three touchdowns, but LVC's defense largely neutralized one of the nation's best rushers in Kyle Schuberth, holding him to 84 yards.

After a flat and mistake-filled first half, the Dutchmen awoke late in the third quarter, gathering steam with Fakete's career-long 44-yard field goal and adding Austin Hartman's second touchdown of the game to end the period. Suddenly, LVC's defense starting getting the stops they needed, and the freshman Irving started ticking off the yards.

"The 44-yarder by Fakete is what did it, that got us back into it," Monos said. "And [Irving] made some big plays... as we got into the game, Irving was able to make some cuts and make some runs to give us some great yards."

Down a touchdown heading in the fourth quarter, LVC forced a Del Val punt, then marched downfield for a spectacular touchdown by George, falling out of bounds with one foot in on the left side with 8:24 left in the game to tie it at 24-24.

If the momentum wasn't in Lebanon Valley's corner by that point, it was a few plays later. On third and four at midfield, Wilmer was sacked by Andrew Burkholder, losing the ball for Joey Scerbo to pounce on for the game's only turnover. Three plays later, Irving danced into the end zone after busting loose on a 40-yard run to put LVC on top, 31-24.

After trading possessions, Delaware Valley got the ball back with 1:10 left and quickly moved up field from their own three, keyed by Wilmer's 21-yard rush, a 25-yard strike to Lewis Vincent, and an LVC late hit that gave the Aggies four shots at the end zone from the LVC 13. Three straight incompletions appeared to have ended the game, but when the Dutchmen turned to look at the clock, it read 0.1 seconds - just enough time for Wilmer to find Marerella for the game-tying score.

The Aggies went first in overtime and produced three straight incompletions, and Snyder clanked his 42-yard bid off the right post. Irving produced a first down to get LVC close, and after Murphy put it in between the hashes on a sneak, LVC didn't wait for fourth down for Fakete to seal the deal.

"I told Sean Fakete at the start of the season, 'we're going to need you to win a football game,'" Monos said. "Today, you could kind of feel it was going to be that kind of game."

For Fakete, making his first walk-off field goal was all business.

"I've been waiting awhile to help the team win a game, today was my day I guess," Fakete said, who had to battle a stiff crosswind to hit from a career-long 44 in regulation and then from 26 in overtime. "It was a great team win."