September 17, 2015

Lebanon Valley Football Looks to Stay Perfect In MAC Play

Photo courtesy of LVC Athletics
Five Things
  • Coaches from both LVC and Stevenson will wear patches in support of Coach To Cure MD, a national effort to defeat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Nine year-old Levi Hains will be LVC's honorary captain.
  • Lebanon Valley is coming off a 37-7 victory over Middle Atlantic Conference foe Misericordia on Saturday, Sept. 12.
  • LVC rushed for 422 yards against the Cougars last Saturday. The Dutchmen are averaging 348.5 yards on the ground per game.
  • Junior RB Brendon Irving carries a streak of seven games with 100-plus rushing yards dating back to last season into Saturday's game.
  • LVC has a chance to improve to 2-0 in MAC play for the first time since 1979.
Coach To Cure MD
LVC's coaching staff will participate in the sixth annual Coach to Cure MD program this afternoon, an effort by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) to funds for research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy. AFCA members around the country will wear a Coach to Cure MD logo patch on the sidelines and fans will be asked to donate to research projects supported by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. Fans can donate to Duchenne muscular dystrophy research by either going online towww.CoachtoCureMD.org or by texting the word CURE to 90999 (a $5 donation will automatically be added to your next bill).

Team Captains
LVC has five first-time team captains in 2015, all seniors. Kevin Antol, Bobby Conlon, Bryan Ek, Zach Smith, and Trevor St. Clairwere elected by their teammates after the 2014 campaign. Levi Hains will serve as honorary captain today on Coach to Cure MD Day; Hains, a third-grader from South Lebanon Elementary, will serve as captain for the sixth straight season.

Series History
Saturday's game between Lebanon Valley and Stevenson is the fifth meeting all-time ... Lebanon Valley leads the overall series 3-1 ... Stevenson just recently added football beginning in 2011 ... The Dutchmen have won each of the past two meetings at Arnold Field including a 61-37 trouncing of the Mustangs in 2011 and a convincing 30-6 victory during LVC's MAC championship season in 2013 ... Stevenson had never defeated Lebanon Valley until last season when the Mustangs jumped out to an early lead and held off a late Dutchmen comeback to earn a 20-14 win in Owings Mills, Md.

Last Year
A second-half comeback fell short for Lebanon Valley, as Stevenson's strong first half helped them hold on for a 20-14 win. Tyler George and Mike Smith caught touchdowns from Brian Murphy in the second half as the Flying Dutchmen (0-3) cut the Mustangs' (3-0) early 20-0 lead to 20-14, but the Mustangs benefited from a last-minute interception by Billy Lewis to seal the win. Stevenson scored all three touchdowns in the first half, with a pair of Cortez Taylor nine-yard grabs sandwiched around Seth Jordan's seven-yard haul, as the Mustangs raced out to a 20-0 halftime lead. Lebanon Valley's offense, held to only 76 yards by the break, came alive in the third quarter sparked by a big defensive play. Zach Wierman's second pick of the game set up LVC's first touchdown, as the senior strung together a 53-yard return to put LVC in Mustang territory. The Dutchmen drove deep but had to go for it on fourth-and-long, and Brian Murphy hit George for a 25-yard catch-and-run, cutting the deficit to 20-7. The defense stopped Stevenson and LVC went on a long 20-play, 88-yard drive that ended with Smith's touchdown. After a pass toJoe Bennett got the Dutchmen to the 11, Murphy rolled right and found Smith at the sideline, and the senior dove for the pylon to score with 6:49 left on the clock. Stevenson bled nearly five minutes off the clock with an 11-play drive before Lebanon Valley forced a stop and a punt, but after taking over with 1:19 remaining, Lewis slid under a pass at midfield to seal it for Stevenson.

Last Week
Lebanon Valley's rushing attack racked up over 400 yards on the ground and the Flying Dutchmen stifled Misericordia's offense en route to a convincing 37-7 victory in the team's Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) opener at Mangelsdorf Field on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 12. Brendon Irving and Jon Jones set career rushing marks with Irving totaling 190 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and Jones rumbling for 95 yards and two scores on 19 carries. Ryan Heim added a 49-yard touchdown run and Tyler Cottlegot LVC (1-1, 1-0 MAC) on the board first with a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line with 4:52 left in the first quarter. Jones capped a five-play, 75-yard, second quarter drive with a 5-yard touchdown run set up by Irving's 43-yard dash one play earlier to make it 14-0 Dutchmen before following it up with a dominant 13-play, 78-yard scoring march that chewed up 5:10 on their ensuing possession. Irving rushed four times for 37 yards and Jones put an exclamation point on the drive with his second score of the day, this time from two yards out with just over a minute left to play in the first half. Irving finished off Lebanon Valley's opening drive of the third quarter with a 7-yard touchdown run and kicker Marcus Brown-Dulan pushed the lead to 30-0 with a 20-yard field goal late in the third quarter. Ricky Feggins made his first pick of the game on the Cougars' (0-2, 0-1 MAC) next series and Ryan Heim put things out of reach for good when he took a carry off right end and outran the entire MU secondary en route to a 49-yard touchdown in front of the LVC sideline with 4:12 left in the third. Misericordia's lone touchdown came in garbage time when Jeff Puckett found Mark McMaster from seven yards out with just over four minutes remaining. The Dutchmen defense limited the reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Week to just 64 yards rushing and 147 yards passing, a large chunk of which came on a completed Hail Mary just before halftime.

MAC Opener
Lebanon Valley's 37-7 victory over Misericordia last Saturday put the Dutchmen at 1-0 in MAC play for the first time since the 2012 campaign when they topped the Cougars 47-7. LVC dropped its conference opener to Widener in 2013 before rebounding to win the MAC and earn the school's first trip to the NCAA tournament. The Pride got the better of Lebanon Valley once again in 2014, topping the Dutchmen on a rainy day at Arnold Field.

Back-to-Back In the MAC
LVC is looking to improve to 2-0 in MAC play for the first time in over 35 years. The last time Lebanon Valley won its first pair of league outings came in 1979 when the Dutchmen defeated former conference members Gettysburg and Dickinson to open the season.

Irving's Streak Continues
Lebanon Valley junior RB Brendon Irving is in the midst of an impressive streak of seven games with 100-plus rushing yards dating back to last season. The 2014 all-American's most recent outing saw him rush 19 times for a career-high 190 yards despite playing for just three quarters against Misericordia. In the season opener against Franklin & Marshall, he scampered for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He posted 186 yards and a score in the 2014 season finale against Albright, a career-high 188 yards rushing at Lycoming last season, 135 yards and two touchdowns last fall in a win over FDU-Florham, 149 yards on the ground and three scores in a win over Wilkes, and his streak began against Misericordia last fall when he posted 181 yards and two touchdowns in LVC's 44-16 Homecoming victory over the Cougars.

Legion of Zoom
Lebanon Valley's backfield has been potent in the early part of the season and the Dutchmen's 1-2 punch of Brendon Irving andJon Jones has been particularly impressive as the pair has combined to average 245.5 yards per game on the ground with Irving averaging 8.8 yards per carry and Jones posting a 6.7 yards per rush average. Irving, a 2014 USA College Football All-American, has been his usual steady self while Jones has proved to be especially hard to bring down in short-yardage and goal line situations. The tailbacks have scored three touchdowns apiece so far in 2015.

No Fly Zone
The Dutchmen secondary was stout against Misericordia quarterback Jeff Puckett and the Cougar wideouts last weekend. LVC held the reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Week to just 147 passing on 14 completions with the majority of his total coming on a 40-yard Hail Mary late in the first half. In all, MU threw for just 160 yards and one garbage time touchdown. Senior cornerbackRicky Feggins led the way with a career-high two interceptions on back-to-back Cougar possessions early in the second half. Free safety Connor Pierce added tackles and a pass breakup while strong safety Kevin Antol and corner Bryan Ek made two stops apiece. Junior corner Tanner Reed kept up the group's stout play in the second half with three tackles and a pass breakup.

Zimmerman Hunts QB
Against Misericordia last week, Lebanon Valley sophomore defensive end Guy Zimmerman recorded the game's lone sack, the first of his career, in the second half. It was his first tackle of the young season after making four stops as a freshman a year ago.

Holy Schedule Change
Lebanon Valley College's football game at Widener 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.

LVC Accolades
A number of individual players have been recognized by various organizations for their performances so far this season:

Freshman K Marcus Brown-Dulan – MAC Football Special Teams Player of the Week (9/7)
Senior SS Kevin Antol – D3football.com Team of the Week (9/8)

Noting LVC's Offense
Lebanon Valley's offense has posted two strong outings to begin the year by putting up 37 points against both Franklin & Marshall and Misericordia in its first outings of 2015. The Dutchmen have been especially strong on the ground and are averaging 348.5 rushing yards per contest, led by Brendon Irving's 336 yards and three touchdowns on 38 attempts (168.0 yards per game) and Jon Jones' 156 yards and three scores on 23 touches (77.5 yards per game). Quarterback Tyler Cottle threw the ball just seven times last Saturday but both of his completions were for 20-plus yards. For the year, he's 24-43 for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Jeremy De La Cruz was stellar in his first career start, hauling in nine catches for 134 yards and a score against F&M while Travis Saylor has pulled in five catches for 51 yards. Tight end Elijah Johnson has also been a threat, catching two passes for 56 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown reception against F&M. After committing three turnovers against the Diplomats in the opener, two interceptions and a fumble, the Dutchmen turned it over just once against MU on a deep interception that proved to be as good as a punt. As a unit, the Dutchmen offense is averaging 507 total yards with a 7.3 yards per play average. LVC is converting 47.3 percent of its third downs and has committed just three penalties for 30 yards.

Noting LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen defense got off to a bit of a rocky start against Franklin & Marshall in week one, allowing 42 points and 501 yards of total offense, but the unit bounced back nicely against Misericordia last weekend. LVC held the Cougars to just 160 yards passing and surrendered just one score in garbage time. On the year, LVC is allowing 231.5 yards on the ground and 204.0 passing yards. Inside linebacker Trevor St. Clair leads the team in tackles with 18, including 12 solo stops, while strong safety Kevin Antol has made 13 tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack. Cornerback Ricky Feggins leads the team with two interceptions, both coming at Misericordia, while fellow DB Bryan Ek has one pick. Inside linebacker Tommy Garner has the team's lone forced fumble of the young season and free safety Connor Pierce, inside linebacker Tom Gallagher, defensive end Andrew Livingston, safety Kyle Murray, nose tackle Clayton Williard, and defensive end Guy Zimmerman all have at least 0.5 tackles for loss. The Dutchmen have forced four turnovers this season, three interceptions and a fumble.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
LVC got another strong outing from its special teams against Misericordia on Saturday and freshman placekicker Marcus Brown-Dulan was stout once again. After going a perfect 4-for-4 on PATs and knocking down a 26-yard field goal against F&M in the opener, he was 4-of-5 on extra points and converted a 20-yard field goal against the Cougars last weekend. Punter Spencer Moser has excelled as well, averaging 44.5 yards per punt, two of which pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line, with a long of 52 yards. Kickoff specialist Nick Newton has seen plenty of action in his first two outings and is averaging 53.1 yards per attempt. Tim Pirrone is the team's top kick returner, averaging 21.3 yards per return, including a 33-yard scamper at MU on Saturday, while Tim Schumacher and Bryan Ek have split time in the punt return game. Lebanon Valley's special teams has yet to surrender a touchdown or field goal.

Scouting Stevenson
Stevenson is off to a good start this season. The Mustangs are 2-0 overall and 1-0 in MAC play. They're coming off a 38-14 trouncing of Lycoming last Saturday after opening the year with a 20-9 victory at N.C. Wesleyan. The Mustangs are averaging 29.0 points per game while racking up 327.0 yards per contest so far. Stevenson has been getting it done through the air the majority of the time as evidenced by the team's 228.5 passing yards per game compared to just 98.5 yards on the ground per contest. The Mustangs are converting just 21 percent of their third-down attempts but have been great in the turnover battle having intercepted five passes and recovering four fumbles. The defense has been stingy, allowing just 11.5 points, 173.5 passing yards, and 130.0 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Jeff Farrah is completing 49 percent of his passes (457 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs) while Klandre Burrell has gotten the most carries of any running back with 22. Fellow tailback Naquan Watkins leads the team in rushing with 92 yards. Stevenson fields a talented group of wideouts with Seth Jordan leading the way with seven receptions for 207 yards and two touchdowns while Neil Harps has pulled in four catches for 100 yards and three scores. Linebacker Brady Kempa is the team's leading-tackler with 19 while Razonte Dunn and Cory Pietrzyk have made 17 stops each. Pietrzyk leads the team with four sacks and five tackles for loss.

Award-Winning Defense
A number of Stevenson's defensive players have earned individual honors from the MAC and ECAC in the early portion of the season. Sophomore defensive back Antonio Johnson is the reigning MAC Football Defensive Player of the Week after making two interceptions and returning one 57 yards for a touchdown to go along with his nine tackles against Lycoming last Saturday. Senior linebacker Brady Kempa earned the first MAC Defensive Player of the Week award of 2015 one week earlier thanks to his two interceptions and nine tackles in his first career start that saw the Mustangs down N.C. Wesleyan on Sept. 5. Kempa was also named the ECAC Division III South Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

Who's Next?
LVC heads to Widener to take on the defending MAC champions on Friday night, Sept. 25. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
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