September 2, 2015

Lebanon Valley and Franklin & Marshall kick off the 2015 NCAA Division III college football season

Photo courtesy of Lebanon Valley Athletics
Lebanon Valley and Franklin & Marshall kick off the 2015 NCAA Division III college football season under the lights at Arnold Field. LVC is looking to avenge a 28-21 loss to the Diplomats a year ago.

Online Video
The game will be streamed live and for free on LVCtv.


On the Radio
The game will be broadcast on the Flying Dutchmen Radio Network on WMSS 91.1 FM in Middletown and WWSM 1510 AM in Lebanon County. John Wilsbach and Brian Keyser will call the action. The game will be streamed live and for free at WMSSFM.com, PennLive.com, and on GoDutchmen.com.

Weather Forecast
(Forecast) It will be on the warm side at kickoff with things cooling off as the sun goes down. Partly cloudy with highs in the low 90s with lows in the mid-60s.

Going to the Game
(Directions) Admission, available at the gate, is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $2 for non-LVC students. LVC students receive free admission.

Five Things
  1. Lebanon Valley is coming off a 3-7 season in which the Flying Dutchmen dropped five one-score games by seven points or less.
  2. Tonight's first-in-the-nation Thursday night game between LVC and Franklin & Marshall takes place on the first allowable date of competition for NCAA Division III teams in 2015.
  3. USA College Football All-American running back Brendon Irving returns for the Dutchmen after one of the best seasons by a running back in program history as a sophomore.
  4. At 24 miles away, F&M is LVC's closest geographical rival in Division III football.
  5. With its victory last fall, F&M ended LVC's streak of three straight wins in season openers dating back to 2011.
Team Captains
LVC will have five first-time team captains in 2015, all seniors. Kevin Antol, Bobby Conlon, Bryan Ek, Zach Smith, and Trevor St. Clair were elected by their teammates after the 2014 campaign.

#lvclights
Lebanon Valley will host Franklin & Marshall in a first-in-the-nation Thursday night game this evening to open the 2015 football season. The local rivals meet at Arnold Field in LVC's first-ever Thursday game. Sept. 3 is the first allowable date of competition for NCAA Division III teams in 2015.

Series History
This is the 35th meeting after the mid-state rivals met last year for the first time since 1982. F&M leads 26-8-1. LVC has won twice at home, the last time in 1981. At 24 miles, F&M is geographically LVC's closest rival in NCAA Division III football, compared to 36 miles for Albright and 44 miles to Dickinson. It is one of the oldest rivalries in LVC football, dating back to the first meeting in 1899, a 28-0 Diplomat win in Lancaster.

Last Year
Franklin & Marshall scored with 2:26 remaining in the game to break a tie, then held Lebanon Valley on a late charge to win 28-21 in the renewal of the two teams' rivalry. Meeting for the first time since 1982, the two went back and forth in their season opener, with all three Dutchmen touchdowns coming on Tyler George catches. The senior wideout finished with 117 yards on seven catches to lead the offense. Both defenses were stout, with LVC limited to 297 yards overall and F&M 300. Frank Gaffney led the Dutchmen with 12 tackles and a sack, while Kevin Antol dropped nine tackles with three for a loss. Bryan Ek came up with a key second-half interception that led to LVC's third touchdown. LVC stopped F&M deep to start the fourth quarter but had to punt, and the Diplomats finished their series with Matt Magarity's second touchdown, taking the lead with 2:26 remaining. LVC had a chance at F&M's 14 yardline with 12 seconds left but Brian Murphy's three pass attempts fell incomplete, the last one as time expired.

Can't Predict the Weather
Last year's game between LVC and F&M was halted by a thunderstorm for an hour and 48 minutes, the longest such delay in program history. It was LVC's first weather delay since the 2012 home opener against Misericordia, which was also halted by lightning at halftime.

MAC Honors
The Dutchmen saw eight players earn MAC All-Conference honors a year ago and four award winners return this season. Running back Brendon Irving was a first-team all-conference selection, offensive tackle Zach Smith was named to the all-conference second-team, and fullback Bobby Conlon and defensive end Andrew Livingston earned all-conference honorable mention nods.

Irving's Encore
Lebanon Valley junior Brendon Irving put together one of the most impressive seasons by a running back in program history as a sophomore last season. He was named a USA College Football All-America Honorable Mention and ranked second in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) with 1,255 yards on the ground. The D3football.com All-East pick scored nine touchdowns while ending the season with five straight 100+ yard performances, including a career-high 184 yards at Lycoming. His yardage total was second-most ever by a Dutchman, eclipsing the 1,200-yard mark for only the third time in program history. Irving averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2014. With four starting offensive linemen in Zach Smith, Tyler Good, Bryant Weller, and Ryan Dotson back this season, Irving seems poised to build off his historic 2014 campaign this fall.

One More Score
Lebanon Valley's 2014 campaign was defined by a number of heartbreaking, one-score defeats. The Dutchmen fell to Franklin & Marshall 28-21 in last year's season opener before dropping a 20-14 decision to Stevenson in week three. The team's fifth loss came to King's by a 10-7 margin. LVC reeled off three straight midseason wins over MIsericordia, Wilkes, and FDU-Florham before falling to Lycoming 30-29 in overtime in the squad's penultimate outing and 17-14 to Albright in the season finale.

Dutchmen Pegged Sixth
Lebanon Valley was picked sixth in the annual MAC preseason football coaches' poll. The Flying Dutchmen picked up 39 points from the league's coaches. The defending MAC champions from Widener (81 points) were unanimously voted no. 1 while Delaware Valley (67) and Lycoming (62) were separated by just five points behind the Pride. Longtime LVC rival Albright (58 points) ranked fourth while Stevenson (56 points) rounded out the top five.

Starting Fresh
After losing a number of 2014 mainstays to graduation last spring, the Dutchmen will look to replace those experienced players with a strong group of youngsters this fall. On offense, quarterback Tyler Cottle, wide receivers Jeremy De La Cruz and Travis Saylor, tight end Elijah Johnson, and offensive lineman Ryan Kingshill are all scheduled to make their first career starts tonight against F&M. Defensively, Spencer Moser and Tom Gallagher are schedule to start for the first time in their young careers while Bryan Ek, Tommy Garner, Reid Pavlik, Connor Pierce, and John Salcedo are set to take on larger roles this season.

Noting LVC's Offense
Lebanon Valley returns six starters from an offense that posted 28.20 points per game a year ago. LVC's bread and butter was the ground game as the Dutchmen offensive line opened holes that allowed backs to rush for over 2,000 yards in 2014, including Brendon Irving's all-American output of 1,255 yards and nine touchdowns. Irving is back, as are four of last season's starting offensive linemen in Zach Smith, Tyler Good, Bryant Weller, and Ryan Dotson. Tyler Cottle replaces Brian Murphy under center, wide receivers Travis Saylor and Jeremy De La Cruz will look to pick up where Tyler George and Darryl Sweeper left off last season, and Elijah Johnson will take over tight end duties from Seth Miller this fall.

Noting LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen defense will benefit from the return of nine players with starting experience from 2014. Led by linebackers Trevor St. Clair, Reid Pavlik, and Tommy Garner, safeties Kevin Antol and Connor Pierce, defensive ends Andrew Livingston and John Salcedo, nose tackle Clayton Williard, and corner Bryan Ek, LVC has plenty back from a unit that surrendered nearly four points less to opponents than the Lebanon Valley offense scored last fall. The Dutchmen were strong against the run, allowing just 114.8 yards per game on the ground and 3.2 yards per carry. This season, LVC will look to improve on its 219.7 yards per game allowed through the air in 2014.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
LVC returns five starters from its 2014 special teams unit this fall. The Dutchmen will look to kicker Matthew Smoluk to improve on his three made field goals a year ago while as a group they will try to better last year's 107 punt return yards. Bryan Ek will handle the majority of punt returns while Jeremy De La Cruz will be the squad's top kickoff returner. Spencer Moser will handle the punting duties and Nick Newton will head up the team's kickoff unit. Robbie Beidler will handle long snap duties on punts, Bryant Weller is the field goal long-snapper, and Jeremy Franck will hold on field goals and extra points.

Scouting F&M
Franklin & Marshall is coming off a .500 season (5-5 overall, 4-5 Centennial Conference) last fall. The Diplomats offense averaged 22.2 points per game while the defense allowed just 21.6 points per outing to opposing offenses. F&M used a balanced offensive attack, averaging 168.7 rush yards and 160.4 passing yards per contest. Defensively, the Dips gave up some markers on the ground, allowing just over 170 yards a game on the ground. Franklin & Marshall returns five upperclassmen along the offensive line and Taalib Gerald is back at running back after rushing for 450 yards last season. F&M has a decision to make at quarterback after Matt Magarity and Zachary Bradley split reps last year and wide receiver leaves two huge holes to be filled. The defense returns plenty of experience as eight 2014 starters return this fall including a deep defensive line that sees upperclassmen A.J. Koikoi, Jonathan Cox, Max Havlusch, and Jon Naji back for the 2015 campaign.

LVC Legacy
A pair of Lebanon Valley freshmen in Bret Hertzog and Blake Lutz will be carrying on an LVC football family tradition when they suit up for tonight's game against F&M. Both Hertzog's father, Rory, and Lutz's father, Jason, played under head coach Jim Monos during his first go around with the Flying Dutchmen. Rory Hertzog played under Monos' tutelage from 1986 to 1989 while Jason Lutz played under Monos from 1991 to 1994.

Holy Schedule Change!
Lebanon Valley College's football game at Widener University originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, Sept. 26 has been rescheduled to Friday night, Sept. 25 due logistical concerns stemming from Pope Francis' highly anticipated visit to Philadelphia that weekend. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. A number of other schools in the greater Philadelphia area including Temple University, Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, the Community College of Philadelphia, and Rutgers-Camden have all either closed their campuses or asked instructors to hold classes online or reschedule them. The Philadelphia Eagles were also forced to play on the road at the New York Jets that weekend due to the pope's visit.

Homecoming
Lebanon Valley will host its 2015 Homecoming weekend Friday, Oct. 9 through Sunday, Oct. 11. LVC football hosts FDU-Florham at Arnold Field on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 10. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. The Flying Dutchmen field hockey squad will follow the football team and host Alvernia at Arnold Field at 6 p.m. The men's and women's soccer teams also welcome Alvernia in doubleheader action with the women hosting the Crusaders at Herbert Field at 1 p.m. and the men following at 4 p.m. LVC's men's ice hockey team is also in action at Hersheypark Arena. The Dutchmen host Stony Brook at 8 p.m.

Who's Next?
LVC will get an extra few days to prepare for the team's 2015 MAC opener. The Dutchmen begin conference play at Misericordia next Saturday, Sept. 12. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.