Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lebanon Valley Football - The Dutchman Open MAC Play at Wilkes Saturday

Photo Courtesy of Lebanon Valley Sports Informatio
Lebanon Valley looks to bounce back following a rough outing in a los to Franklin & Marshall in the season opener last week. Saturday's contest is LVC's 2017 conference opener and the Flying Dutchmen have won six in a row over Wilkes.

Five Things
Lebanon Valley will look to bounce back after struggling in a 48-7 loss to Franklin & Marshall in the team's season opener last weekend. The Flying Dutchmen defeated Wilkes 38-20 at Arnold Field in the teams' most recent matchup last fall. 

Today's matchup with Wilkes serves as LVC's Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) opener. The Dutchmen are 3-2 in their last five conference openers. 

Lebanon Valley has won six in a row over the Colonels dating back to 2011.
The Dutchmen defense will have to contend with a Preseason All-American in Wilkes tight end Garrett Armstrong.

Series History
Saturday's game is the 46th meeting all-time ... Wilkes holds the slimmest of series leads at 23-22... Lebanon Valley has won six in row over the Colonels ... LVC head coach Joe Buehler is coming off a 38-20 victory in his first matchup with WU last fall ... Six of the last 10 games in the series have been decided by one score or less … A 46-0 LVC win in 2014 was the team's first shutout victory since 2009 and biggest since a 49-0 blanking of Lincoln in 1949 ... The last Wilkes victory in the series came in 2010 when the Colonels won 35-28 in overtime … The first meet­ing in the series was Oct. 3, 1959, a 15-6 LVC win.

Last Year
Lebanon Valley used a dominant run game to defeat Wilkes 38-20 under the lights at Arnold Field in the team's home opener last fall. The Flying Dutchmen put together an impressive six-play drive to begin the game that saw Brendon Irving rush three times for 30 yards before Jon Jones scampered off right end, raced 27 yards down the sideline, and jaunted across the goal line to put LVC on the board first. It was more of the same on the team's next possession as Irving, Jones, and quarterback Tim Pirronecombined to rush eight times for 59 yards. Jones capped the series with his second touchdown run of the first quarter, this time from 24 yards out. LVC took advantage of good field position early in the second quarter and marched 44 yards to paydirt. The key play came when Pirrone hit tight end Dylan Berberick for 21 yards to set up the Dutchmen inside the 10-yardline. Ryan Finkforced his way across the goal line three plays later to give Lebanon Valley a 21-0 lead with 11:39 left in the first half. The Colonels showed signs of life when they drove 70 yards in 11 plays on their next possession, culminating with a Ryan Dailey touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Armstrong from five yards out that got Wilkes on the board before the break. The Dutchmen answered with a methodical 15-play, 71-yard drive that was capped by Marcus Brown's 22-yard field goal. The score gave LVC a 17-point cushion heading into halftime. It took Lebanon Valley four plays to increase its lead to 31-7, as the team moved the ball 70 yards on its first series of the third quarter. A hustle play by Gary Wise paid off in a big way when he ran stride for stride with Fink as he sprinted towards the end zone before recovering the tailback's ensuing fumble that bounced into the end zone with 12:25 remaining in the period. Wilkes took advantage of the lone Dutchmen turnover on the night, a fumbled punt, by driving 46 yards in nine plays and punching it into the end zone when Dailey kept the ball and rushed across the goal line at the 7:35 mark. LVC wasn't done, however, and Wise put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter when he hauled in a well-placed fourth-down lob from Pirrone near the right sideline and stretched for the corner pylon with 11:23 left to make it 38-14. The visitors added a late touchdown but cornerback Spencer Moser and middle linebacker Tom Gallagher put an exclamation point on the defensive effort when Moser tipped the ensuing two-point conversion attempt into the air before Gallagher picked it off with 2:30 remaining in the game.

Last Week
Lebanon Valley suffered a 48-7 loss to Franklin & Marshall in the season opener at a miserably damp Arnold Field on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 2. The Flying Dutchmen struggled to get anything going offensively, while the defense was overwhelmed by an efficient F&M offense that clicked on all cylinders behind the performance of quarterback Tanner Erisman. The QB accounted for five Diplomat touchdowns, including four through the air, and finished as the game's leading rusher with 55 yards and a score. The F&M defense set the tone right off the bat when Joe Granahan sacked LVC quarterback Tyler Sterner on the game's first play. After a three-and-out by the Dutchmen, the Dips marched 57 yards in eight plays and scored the contest's first points when Erisman connected with wideout K.J. Pretty for a 23-yard touchdown at the 9:06 mark of the first quarter. The ensuing LVC drive stalled and disaster struck when punter Spencer Moser tried to pick up a first down following a bobbled snap. He was cut down at his own 26-yard line and Erisman found receiver Dillon Alderfer for a TD on the very next play. F&M added three touchdowns in the second quarter before Sterner finally picked up Lebanon Valley's first first down with less than two minutes remaining in the half. The Dutchmen managed just 10 total yards of offense in the first half, while the visitors scored touchdowns on all five of their first-half possessions. The Diplomats added another score on their second possession of the third quarter and the back-breaker came when K.J. Boston picked off Sterner's lob at the F&M 10-yard line, weaved through traffic, and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown with six seconds remaining in the period. LVC opened the fourth quarter with its best drive of the afternoon; one that ended with receiver Adam Domovich hauling in a pass from quarterback Brett Cohen and just tapping his toes inbounds in the left side of the end zone. The 24-yard score capped an eight-play, 58-yard drive.

Road Opener
This weekend's matchup with Wilkes is LVC's 2017 road opener. The Dutchmen have been pretty even in opening up away from Arnold Field the last few seasons, going 2-3 in their last five road openers. Lebanon Valley defeated Misericordia 37-7 in its 2015 road opener but has dropped outings at Franklin & Marshall in 2014 and 2016, respectively, and at Widener in 2013. Prior to that, LVC defeated Montclair State in New Jersey to open the 2012 campaign.

MAC Opener
Saturday's contest also serves as Lebanon Valley's 2017 Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) opener. The Dutchmen are 3-2 in their last five league openers and are coming off a 38-20 victory over this same Wilkes program in their first MAC contest of 2016. With last year's win, LVC won back-to-back conference openers for the first time in more than a decade. LVC is looking to make it three in a row thanks to a 37-7 thrashing of Misericordia in the 2015 MAC opener.

A History of Streaking
The series between LVC and Wilkes has a way of producing long winning streaks for one side and agonizing losing skids for the other. From 1955-1964, Lebanon Valley won eight in a row against the Colonels. From there, Wilkes won the next eight meetings between the squads. The Dutchmen took the next five meetings before the Colonels reeled off the next 13 straight between 1993 and 2007. The pendulum has recently swung back in the favor of LVC as the program is currently riding a six-game win streak over Wilkes.

Key Dates
In addition to this weekend's MAC opener, there are a number of dates of note on Lebanon Valley's schedule this fall. The annual Pink Game takes place on Sept. 16 when King's comes to town, while LVC's Coach to Cure MD contest will be held the next weekend when the Dutchmen play host to FDU-Florham on Sept. 23. The team's matchup with Stevenson on Oct. 14 will serve as its 2017 Homecoming Game, while Senior Day ceremonies will take place prior to the home finale against Lycoming on Nov. 4. LVC caps the 2017 campaign on the road with the 97th meeting in the longtime rivalry against Albright on Nov. 11.

Noting LVC's Offense
LVC's offense is coming off a rough outing that saw the unit muster just 121 yards of total offense in the team's season-opening loss to Franklin & Marshall last week. The Dutchmen accumulated just 32 yards on the ground with Paxson Hayes finishing as the team's leading rusher with just 26 yards on four carries, while starting tailback Ryan Fink netted just two yards on six attempts. After a strong finish to his junior campaign, quarterback Tyler Sterner was held to just 7-18 passing for 63 yards and an interception in the first outing of his senior season. Backup Brett Cohen connected with wide receiver Adam Domovich for LVC's lone touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Fink and wideout Jeremy De La Cruz were the only Dutchmen to make more than one reception in the opener, while running back Jon Jones finished as the team's leading receiver thanks to a 26-yard catch and run.

Noting LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen defense will look to rebound after allowing 333 yards of total offense and surrendering 48 points to F&M last week. LVC especially struggled in stopping the pass as the Diplomats racked up 219 yards and four touchdowns through the air. Lebanon Valley held F&M to just 114 yards rushing but did surrender a pair of scores on the ground. Linebacker Tom Gallagher was the team's leading tackler with five stops, while fellow LB Tyler Hodges wreaked as much havoc as anyone and finished with 3.5 tackles-for-loss. Defensive end Nick Newton recorded LVC's lone sack and also forced and recovered a fumble. Gallagher broke up one pass, as did safety Cale Bruso.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
Lebanon Valley's special teams unit had an up and down day against F&M last weekend. The good came when defensive lineman Jacob Whitfield blocked an extra point in the second half and kicker Marcus Brown connected on his lone PAT try in the fourth quarter. The rest was a mixed bag as weather conditions led to a pair of bobbled snaps on punts, one of which resulted in a turnover on downs deep by the Dutchmen deep in their own territory in the first quarter. Spencer Moser booted a 40-yard punt on his only attempt of the game and Adam Domovich took over for the next six punts, averaging 31.2 yards per kick with a long of 42 yards. One of his punts was partially blocked following a bobbled snap. Nick Bentz handled the kickoff duties for LVC, booting his lone attempt 56 yards. His only other action was an onside kick recovered by the Diplomats.

Scouting Wilkes
Similarly to LVC, Wilkes is coming off a tough loss in its season opener a week ago. Muhlenberg's Nick Savant rushed for a game-high 271 yards and four touchdowns while adding another score through the air to power the host Mules to a 62-19 victory over the Colonels last Saturday at Scotty Wood Stadium. Wilkes did most of its damage through the air against Muhlenberg, with quarterback Jose Tabora finishing 23-35 for 192 yards, three touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. He also rushed 11 times for 31 yards. Tailback Jacob Kadis notched 10 carries but managed just 19 yards on the ground. Standout tight end Garrett Armstrong had a big day, making 10 catches for 121 yards and a score, while wide receiver Aaron Coyne pulled in four receptions for 36 yards and two touchdowns. Linebacker Lukas Wood was the team's top tackler with 11, including 10 solo stops, and defensive back Jacob Brook made eight total stops. Brendan Riley and Isaiah Robinson each recorded a tackle-for-loss, while Robinson also forced a fumble. The Colonels surrendered more than 400 yards on the ground a week ago. The Dutchmen have a history of trying to establish the run game and may try to take advantage this week.

Wilkes' Armstrong Named Preseason All-America
Wilkes senior tight end Garrett Armstrong was named a Second Team Preseason All-American by earlier this summer. The Dutchmen defense will look to key in on Armstrong, a Second Team All-Region and First Team All-MAC pick a year ago. He ended the 2016 campaign with 36 receptions for 390 yards and five touchdowns.

Who's Next?
The Dutchmen open a two-game homestand when they host King's at Arnold Field on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 16. The contest will serve as the program's annual Pink Game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. LVC will look to avenge last year's 21-17 loss to the Monarchs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.