November 23, 2013

LVC's Run Ends At Wittenberg In NCAA First Round

A Lebanon Valley College Athletics Photo
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Lebanon Valley's historic NCAA Tournament run came to end as they ran up against one of the nation's top offenses in a 59-17 loss at #12 Wittenberg.

The Dutchmen end their memorable season at 8-3 after winning the Middle Atlantic Conference title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in their history. The Tigers (10-1) will advance to play #1 Mount Union next week in the second round.

Wittenberg's offense, ranked fifth in the nation, proved to be unstoppable, scoring 38 points in the first half and racking up 600 yards of offense overall,
led by quarterback Reed Florence's 344 yards and six passing touchdowns, four of which went to Desi Kirkman among his five catches for 188 yards.

Brian Murphy threw for 173 yards and touchdowns to Joey Miller and Tyler George, and Brendan Irving ran for his fifth straight 100-yard game to end the season with 101 yards on the day.

"They're a very good football team and they outplayed us today, give them a lot of credit," said head coach Jim Monos. "I was disappointed in how we played early, but I'm really proud of our football team and our season."

George and Miller each had solid games, with George catching three balls for 81 yards and Miller four for 72, and Nate Luckenbill was a key safety valve with two catches for 31 yards. Jake Zeigler caught a pass for 13 yards but threw another for 32. Sean Gary led Witt on the ground with 84 yards, while Brendon Cunningham had 79 yards receiving.

Despite the scoreline, Monos remained upbeat about what LVC did this season and what the senior class - who depart with three postseason appearances under their belts - achieved.

"We can't forget what we've done and what we've accomplished," Monos said. "Disappointed in the result today, but it was a heck of the year for the Dutchmen. It's a big senior class and great leadership, and we'll enjoy the accomplishments of this football team."

Wittenberg flashed its offense from the very start as Florence completed his first four passes to cap the opening drive with a 35-yard touchdown to Desi Kirkman. LVC went to the ground on its first try and Irving marched the Dutchmen downfield, but they were stopped just shy of the goal line and settled for Fakete's 20-yard field goal.

Florence hit Brendon Cunningham for 33 yards on the next drive to score, and after LVC punted, he found Kirkman again on a pass to the flat that turned into a 65-yard scamper to go up 21-3. Kirkman scored his next touchdown on special teams, taking a punt back 90 yards on a zig-zagging run to the house to open the second quarter, then caught a 41-yard pass from Florence to open the gap to 35-3. Evan Grissom's 18-yard field goal ended the first half.

A second-half snow flurry didn't slow down the Dutchmen as they started to put things together offensively. Miller drew a key pass interference call that set up his 16-yard TD catch from Murphy to open the half, and George scored at the pylon from 35 yards out to sandwich around Kirkman's fourth score. Wittenberg scored twice more in the fourth quarter as they dominated the time of possession, with Jimmy Dehnke's 15-yard pass and a 24-yard Zach Jenkins run.