Wednesday, November 6, 2013

LVC Trying To Make History vs. Stevenson

Lebanon Valley Photo by Tim Flynn '05
It's been 44 years since Lebanon Valley last won a Middle Atlantic Conference title. The wait could be over with a win over Stevenson, giving the Dutchmen a share of their first MAC Championship since 1969.

If You Only Know Five Things
  1. Lebanon Valley could clinch a share of its first MAC Championship since 1969 with a win over Stevenson. A win combined with a King's win over Widener would also secure LVC's first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
  2. Lebanon Valley is nationally ranked for the first time in program history, debuting at #25 in this week's poll.
  3. Sean Fakete was named the ECAC and MAC Special Teams Player of the Week for his play at Delaware Valley, which included a career-long 44-yard field goal and the 26-yard gamewinner in overtime. Fakete is one field goal away from setting the LVC career record.
  4. Before the game, LVC will honor its 22-member senior class as they play their final regular-season game at Arnold Field. The class has won 27 games in four straight winning seasons.
  5. Lebanon Valley is currently riding the longest winning streak in program history. Its six wins in a row are tied with a streak from 1960, and no LVC team has ever won seven straight.

Eyes On The Prize
When LVC takes the field against Stevenson, it'll have been 44 years - well, 43 years, 11 months, and 18 days, to be exact - since the Dutchmen last lifted a Middle Atlantic Conference title. But that number could reset to zero with a win, giving LVC at least a share of the 2013 crown. A game ahead of King's, Lycoming, and Widener in the MAC standings, Lebanon Valley controls its own destiny with two games left. Two wins would give them the MAC title outright and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament (the program's first); a win over Stevenson combined with a King's win over Widener could lock up the NCAA berth a game early.

LVC Ranked #25 by
This week, Lebanon Valley is nationally ranked for the first time in program history, debuting at #25 in the poll. The Dutchmen had been receiving votes the past three weeks, and have received votes in past seasons but never broke into the top 25. LVC also remains ranked at third in the most recently ECAC Meadowlands Lambert regional poll.

Monos Wins #100
The Delaware Valley win was a special one for Jim Monos, who received a dunking from the water cooler for his trouble after his 100th career victory. Monos, in his 21st season, is LVC's all-time winningest head coach.

Delaware Valley Recap
Sean Fakete's 26-yard field goal in overtime capped off an improbable comeback victory as Lebanon Valley beat Delaware Valley, 34-31, last week. The Dutchmen rallied back from being down 24-7 in the third quarter, taking a late lead on Brendan Irving's touchdown before Del Val sent the game to overtime on a touchdown with 0.1 seconds left. In overtime, the Aggies were stopped by LVC's defense and Brandon Snyder's 42-yard field goal attempt clanked the right post; Irving put the Dutchmen in position on their turn to set up Fakete's game-winning field goal. Austin Hartman ran for two touchdowns, Tyler George caught another in the fourth quarter, and Fakete made a career-long 44-yarder in the third that sparked the LVC rally. Zach Halpin forced a key fourth-quarter fumble that was recovered by Joey Scerbo and led to Irving's go-ahead score. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Aggies.

Noting LVC's Offense
After an anemic first half at Delaware Valley yielded seven points and 58 yards rushing, LVC's offense turned it on after the break to rack up 178 yards on the ground and 198 yards passing as part of a 24-0 run to take the lead in the fourth quarter ... Brendan Irving earned his first career start and responded with his second straight 100-yard game, going for 134 and the go-ahead touchdown on a 40-yard breakout in the fourth quarter ... Austin Hartman ran 10 times for 35 yards and two touchdowns a week after shouldering a huge workload for 228 yards and four scores at Misericordia ... Brian Murphycompleted 16 of 25 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown ... His scoring strike went to Tyler George, who caught his third of the season with a spectacular falling-out-of-bounds catch on the left side of the end zone ... Joey Miller led LVC receivers with seven catches on eight targets for 103 yards ... Miller had a key 47-yard basket catch in the first half to set up Hartman's first touchdown ... Jake Zeigler caught four passes for 38 yards, none bigger than a leaping 4-and-5 conversion in the fourth quarter that led to George's game-tying score ... Tight end Nate Myers also had a pair of catches for 27 yards ... LVC's offensive line has allowed just three sacks over the past four games ... Center Aaron Cummins returned to the starting line-up last week after missing the Misericordia game ... LVC has put the same starting line out in seven of eight games; at this point last season, the Dutchmen had used the same OL line-up just twice in eight games ... LVC is averaging a healthy 200.8 yards per game rushing and 5.7 yards per play overall this season.

Noting LVC's Defense
LVC allowed a season-high 505 yards of offense to Delaware Valley, but did not allow a yard to the Aggies in overtime ... Del Val had 170 yards rushing, but LVC limited Kyle Schuberth, one of the nation's top rushers coming into the game, to 84 yards ... The Dutchmen had six tackles for a loss and three sacks ... The turning point of the game came in the fourth quarter when Zach Halpin and Andrew Burkholder combined for a sack, and Halpin stripped the ball from Wilmer that Joey Scerbo recovered at midfield ... The LVC secondary ball-hawked for seven break-ups last week ... Frank Gaffney had a team-high 10 tackles, including seven solo stops ... Burkholder, David Kennedy, and Bryan Kasper each had eight tackles ... Scerbo was in on two sacks and had 2.5 TFL ... In the overtime, LVC forced three straight incompletions, including a first-down break-up by Zach Wierman ... The Dutchmen drew nine penalties for 111 yards from the Aggies, a season high ... LVC is tied for the MAC lead in scoring defense (18.1 ppg).

Noting LVC's Special Teams
LVC's special teams shined at Del Val, particularly the play of Sean Fakete and Jake Zeigler ... Fakete hit a career-long 44-yarder, the fourth-longest field goal in program history, in the third quarter before converting from 26 in overtime ... He was also 4-for-4 on PATs ... Zeigler had one of the best games of his career punting the ball, booting the ball five times for a 44.8-yard average, including punts of 50 and 54 yards ... Three of his punts were inside the 20, including his final of the day that was coffin-cornered at the 3 ... Zeigler also held on all six place kicks ... Jeff Hacker took one punt after Zeigler picked up an injury early in the game and had to come off for a play; the back-up pulled off a 39-yarder that subsequently pinned Del Val at their 19 after a penalty ... Nate Luckenbill returned to punt snapping duties, while Trent Mars continues to handle place kick snaps.

Scouting Stevenson
Stevenson snapped a four-game losing streak with a 48-3 win over Misericordia last week. The Mustangs produce 27.5 points per game led by a dual-threat rushing attack of Marcus Holley (646 yds, 6 TD) and Trey Lee (640 yds, 6 TD). Stevenson has used two quarterbacks this year, with Zach Jefferson (441 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT) atop the two-deep this week ahead of John Gasparovic (963 yds, 7 TD, 8 INT). Turnovers have hurt SU, who are -8 this season.

The LVC-Stevenson Series
The game is the third meeting all-time ... Stevenson's program was established in 2011 ... LVC has won both games in the series ... Head Coach Jim Monos is 2-0 against the Mustangs ... LVC won a thriller in Maryland, 31-28, last year, and beat SU 61-37 at home in 2011.

Fakete Earns MAC, ECAC Honors
For his play at Del Val, Sean Fakete was named the MAC and ECAC Special Teams Player of the Weekon SundayZach Halpin was also named to the MAC Weekly Honor Roll with a forced fumble and two sacks.

Fakete Ties Career FG Record
Sean Fakete's walk-off overtime field goal at Delaware Valley made a little bit of history for the senior in the program record books. The 26-yard boot was the 22nd of his career, tying him with Jay Mosley '79 for the most all-time. The career field goal record would go well with Fakete's career PAT mark (119) and kicker scoring (185) records.

Best Start Ever
A win would equal LVC's best-ever record through nine games at 8-1. LVC did that during the 2009 season that saw them go 9-2 with an ECAC Bowl championship.

We're Going Streaking!
With six straight wins, LVC has tied the program record for consecutive victories and could break it with a win over Stevenson. The Dutchmen won six straight from a win over Washington & Jefferson on Nov. 12, 1960, to a win over Dickinson on Oct. 28, 1961.

Six Straight Winning Seasons For LVC
At 7-1, 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.

Working Overtime
Lebanon Valley worked overtime at Delaware Valley to earn their first OT win since 2008. LVC had lost three straight extra-period games, and hadn't been on the winning end since they beat Widener at home on Oktoberfest Weekend 2008 in the memorable "Measurement" game; Brian Cottone '09's tackle on fourth-and-five brought out the chains, leaving Widener inches short of a first down after Ben Guiles '12 scored on LVC's turn.

Go For It!
One of the reasons for LVC's success this season is the ability to make the big play when needed. As such, the Dutchmen are seventh in the nation in 4th-down conversion percentage, making eight of 12 attempts this season. Austin Hartman has made four of those eight conversions - one of them a touchdown - and Jake Zeigler has a pair, including a critical fourth-quarter conversion at Delaware Valley last week.

Keeping A Clean Sheet
Not making mistakes nearly always keeps a team in position to win, and Lebanon Valley proved that at Delaware Valley with their first turnover-free game in their last 18 outings. The Dutchmen hadn't done that since playing at Montclair State to open the 2012 season.

Gaffney 2nd 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 is second in NCAA Division III in sacks, racking up 13.0 (1.7 per game) this season. He is also fifth in D-III in tackles for a loss with 19.0 (2.4 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.

Next Time
LVC will finish the regular season with a visit to Albright in the 93rd meeting of the rivals Nov. 16.