Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Not Content, there is work to be done for Lebanon Valley

Lebanon Valley Intercepts a ball intended for #4 Sr WR Matt Atkinson
There is work yet to be done by Lebanon Valley. Not content to share their first MAC title in four decades, LVC must beat Albright in the regular-season finale to earn their first trip to the NCAA Tournament. Oh, and something about a day off from school?

If You Only Know Five Things

  1. A Lebanon Valley win would clinch them the MAC title outright and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the first in program history. If Albright wins, LVC would still clinch the NCAA berth if Delaware Valley beats Widener, regardless of any other results.
  2. LVC clinched at least a share of the MAC title last week with a win over Stevenson, the first since 1969. The Valley's only other crown, and lone outright title, came in 1961.
  3. Lebanon Valley's defense ranks atop the MAC, allowing just 16.8 points per game. Albright's offense ranks in the top three in scoring (31.9), total offense (390.4), and passing (237.3).
  4. Senior linebacker Andrew Burkholder was the MAC Defensive Player of the Week after making two of LVC's five interceptions last week, their highest pick total since 1995.
  5. Tradition holds that an LVC victory over Albright results in students getting the day before Thanksgiving off from school, but only if they march en masse to the president's residence, Kreiderheim, to request it.

The Series
This is the 93rd meeting in the rivalry ... Albright leads 57-32-3 ... It is the most-played rivalry in LVC history, and the oldest continuous, having been played every year since 1947 (excluding World War II years, it has been going every year since 1924) ... The first meeting was a 10-3 LVC win on Nov. 2, 1898 ... An unknown dispute led to a gap in the series between 1903 and 1912, despite the fact that Albright at that time was located in Myerstown in Lebanon County ... Jim Monos is 10-10 vs. the Lions.

Dutchmen Beat Stevenson, Earn Share of MAC Title
Lebanon Valley captured a share of its first Middle Atlantic Conference title since 1969, riding a dominant defensive effort and 317 yards rushing to beat Stevenson 30-6. On Senior Day at Arnold Field, the Dutchmen came out firing on all cylinders and never let up to earn at least a share of the crown. The championship is the third in program history, joining the 1961 and 1969 teams. Both Austin Hartman andBrendan Irving went over 100 yards rushing for the third time this year, and Irving had a pair of touchdowns while Brian Murphy threw two more. The defense starred, however, picking off five interceptions - including two each by Zach Wierman and Andrew Burkholder and another by Kevin Antol- and holding the Mustangs (4-5, 3-5 MAC) to just 235 yards of offense and a late defensive touchdown. The Dutchmen scored the game's first 30 points, and controlled the game on the ground with 317 of 373 total yards coming via the running game with a 5.6 yards per rush average behind a fantastic effort by the offensive line. Irving went for 136 yards and two scores, and Hartman added 130 yards. On the other side of the ball, LVC's secondary had a game to remember with the five interceptions and eight other break-ups.

Noting LVC's Offense
Running backs Austin Hartman and Brendan Irving each ran for over 100 yards for the third time this season ... Irving went for 136 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, while Hartman had 130 yards on 19 totes as LVC racked up 317 yards on the ground ... Brian Murphy threw a pair of touchdowns despite completing just four passes, hitting Jake Zeigler and Joey Miller on laser strikes in the first and second quarters, respectively ... Murphy was also effective on the ground, running seven times for 41 positive yards ... Miller caught a pair of passes for 20 yards ... LVC's run game gave them their biggest time-of-possession margin of the season, holding the ball for 36:46 ... The Dutchmen averaged 5.6 yards per running play with 16 rushing first downs ... LVC was 2-of-3 on fourth down and 6-of-15 on third ... Freshman center Bryant Weller played most of the second half after an injury to starter Aaron Cummins, and Weller is expected to get his second career start at Albright ... Bobby Conlon earned his first career start last week at fullback, in for Evan Fink ... LVC is averaging 312 yards per rushing over the last three games, with nine touchdowns on the ground in that span.

Noting LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen lead the MAC in scoring defense (16.8), and are second in total defense (308.2) and rushing defense (100.0) ... LVC's defense had another dominating outing against Stevenson, not allowing a point (SU's touchdown was a defensive one) and holding the Mustangs to 235 yards of offense, including 42 yards rushing ... LVC picked off five interceptions in the game, the biggest team effort in that category since 1995 ... Andrew Burkholder and Zach Wierman each had two picks andKevin Antol made the other ... LVC recorded nine pass break-ups and 14 passes defended in total, including a pair of break-ups by Wierman ... David Kennedy led the defense with eight tackles ... Zach Halpin had LVC's lone sack, taking his season total to 8.5 ... Kevin Smith and Tony Shearer also made tackles for a loss off the line ... Adam Soltys earned his first career start at defensive end for Joey Scerbo and had three tackles ... LVC had interceptions to end both halves as Wierman snagged his second on a Hail Mary to end the first half, and Burkholder picked a pass at midfield on the final drive and ran in circles to kill the clock ... Frank Gaffney had a quiet game against Stevenson outside of a blocked PAT, but remains second in the nation in sacks (13.0) and 10th in tackles for a loss (18.0) ... LVC has allowed 14 or fewer points in five of nine games this year ... LVC's first-team defense did not allow more than 14 points in any home game this year.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
Sean Fakete hit a 43-yard field goal, the second-longest of his career, against Stevenson to become LVC's all-time field goals leader (23) ... He missed from 37 in the second quarter going against a very strong cross wind ... Fakete averaged 62 yards per kick-off with one touchback, equaling his career-best average ... Frank Gaffney blocked a PAT, his second of the year, after Stevenson's lone score ... Jake Zeigler punted three times for a 40.7 yard average, booting a 49-yarder with one touchdown ... Bryan Ekhad LVC's only punt return chance, getting a single yard, while Kevin Antol snagged a short kick-off for three yards ... Tyler George recovered Stevenson's late onside kick on the fly.

Lebanon Valley may have clinched a share of its first MAC title since 1969 with last week's win over Stevenson, but there was little celebration. That's because the Dutchmen knew they had one more win to go to claim the title outright and earn the bid to the NCAA Tournament. Immediately after the game, coach Jim Monos and wide recievers coach Tom McKee brought back a mantra from their days at Bloomsburg: "No-Co", meaning, no co-champions.

Care To Dance?
On the final day of the regular season, there are still three teams with hopes of earning the MAC's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, with Lebanon Valley the only one in control of its own destiny. There are three possible outcomes to clinch the automatic qualifier:
  • Lebanon Valley needs a win OR a Widener loss to clinch.
  • Lycoming needs a win AND a Lebanon Valley loss AND a Widener win to clinch.
  • Widener needs a win AND a Lebanon Valley loss AND a Lycoming loss to clinch.
An at-large Pool C bid by a runner-up would be extremely unlikely out of the MAC this year given the relative weakness of the East region and the number of one-loss teams elsewhere in the nation. The NCAA selection show airs Sunday at 6 p.m. on

LVC Ranked by, AFCA
This week, Lebanon Valley moved up three places to #22 in the newest Top 25 poll, a week after debuting at #25 for the program's first-ever national ranking. LVC also appears in the AFCA coaches' poll this week at #21, the first time the Dutchmen have appeared in that poll.

"The March"
Tradition holds that if Lebanon Valley beats Albright, its oldest rival, then the LVC student body is to march to the home of President Lewis Thayne, Kreiderheim, and request the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 27) off from school. That day is scheduled to be a half-day of classes. Two years ago, after LVC's last win over Albright, an orderly mob of Dutchmen, led by the football team and Annville police and fire personnel, marched from Arnold Field up the hill to Kreiderheim, where they were granted the day off by president emeritus Stephen MacDonald.

Burkholder, Irving Pick Up Honors
Coming off a two-interception performance last week, senior linebacker Andrew Burkholder was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Week on Sunday, and was also selected to the Beyond Sports Network National Team of the Week on Monday. Freshman running back Brendan Irving was picked for the MAC Weekly Honor roll for his two-touchdown game vs. Stevenson.

Two-Headed Monster
It appears that sophomore Austin Hartman and freshman Brendan Irving are having no trouble settling into the LVC run game. The pair have eight combined 100+ yard performances this season, including five in the last three games. Since a tentative start to the season, the pair are averaging an impressive 215.8 yards per game combined over the last six weeks:


Hartman Nears 1,000 Yards
With 862 yards this season, sophomore Austin Hartman has a chance to become the seventh running back in LVC history to record a 1,000-yard season. There have been eight 1,000-yard seasons by seven backs, most recently in 2011 when Ben Guiles '12 ran for 1,226 yards.

LVC 1,000-yard seasons
1,330 - Ben Guiles, 2010
1,226 - Ben Guiles, 2011
1,105 - Charlie Parker, 2007
1,103 - Ken Wilson, 1989
1,036 - Frank Tavani, 1975
1,026 - Rick Coleman, 1977
1,012 - Pete Henning - 2003

Fakete Sets Career FG Record
Sean Fakete's 43-yard field goal against Stevenson broke a long-standing record to make him LVC's all-time field goal leader. Fakete's 23rd career boot surpassed Jay Mosley '79 for first place on the list. Fakete already owned the career PAT mark, and has 191 career points overall.

Dutchmen Pick Off Five vs. Stevenson
Lebanon Valley picked off five Stevenson passes last week, a rare feat to say the least. The last time LVC had five interceptions in a game? Oct. 14, 1995, when the Dutchmen jumped a record seven interceptions against Juniata. The only other five-pick game came in 1994 at Albright.

Another Nine?
A win over Albright would be LVC's ninth, making the 2013 Dutchmen only the second team in program history - joining 2009 - to win nine games.

We're Going Streaking!
With seven straight wins, LVC is riding a program record for consecutive victories. The Dutchmen won six straight from a win over Washington & Jefferson on Nov. 12, 1960, to a win over Dickinson on Oct. 28, 1961, the previous best.

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 10th in the nation in 4th-down conversion percentage, making 10 of 15 attempts this season. Austin Hartman has made six of those 10 conversions - one of them a touchdown - and Jake Zeigler has a pair.

Scouting Albright
Albright ranks near the top of the MAC in every offensive category but rushing, led by quarterback TJ Luddy (2,065 yds, 61.6%, 13 TD) and a pair of outstanding feature receivers in Daniel McNair (774 yds, 8 TD) and Devron Clark (706 yds, 2 TD). Ty Hughes has emerged as one of the MAC's top running backs, going for 822 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. At +9 they are one of the MAC's best turnover teams. Defensively they are tough, allowing only 18.2 points per game and 118.8 yards rushing, led by Levi Myers (75 T, 8.0 TFL) and Matt Pattison (37 T, 13.0 TFL, 7.0 S). Safety Drew Peterson is one of the nation's best, with seven interceptions and 41 tackles this year.