September 10, 2015

Lebanon Valley Preview: Dutchman Football Opens MAC Play at Misericorida

Photo Courtesy of Lebanon Valley Athletics
Five Things
Lebanon Valley is coming off hard-fought, 42-37 season-opening loss to Franklin & Marshall last Thursday night.

Thanks to his performance against F&M (11 T, 2 TFL, 1 S), fifth-year senior SS Kevin Antol was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week.

Freshman K Marcus Brown-Dulan is the reigning MAC Special Teams Player of the Week thanks to his four PATs and a 26-yard FG against the Diplomats.
Junior RB Brendon Irving carries a streak of six games with 100-plus rushing yards dating back to last season into Saturday's game.

LVC has won each of its previous three meetings with Misericordia as their football program enters its fourth season.

Series History
Saturday's game is the fourth meeting all-time. Lebanon Valley has won each of the previous three match-ups. This is just the fourth year of Misericordia football. LVC defeated MU 31-14 in the team's only trip to Mangelsdorf Field back in 2013. The Dutchmen topped the Cougars 47-7 at Arnold Field in Misericordia's inaugural MAC game in 2012. That contest was also the first football game played on artificial turf at Arnold Field.

Last Year
Lebanon Valley's offense erupted for 627 yards as it rolled, 44-16, over Misericordia in front of a packed Homecoming crowd at Arnold Field. The Dutchmen approached the school record for total offensive yards as running back Brendon Irving went off for 175 yards and two touchdowns, and the receiving duo of Tyler George (106 yards, 2 TDs) and Homecoming King Darryl Sweeper(94 yds) led LVC's big day. Brian Murphy was 10-of-14 for 219 yards and two scores, while also running for another. LVC's defense held the Cougars (1-5) to 221 total yards led by Frank Gaffney's 10-tackle, 2.0-sack day, while Brandon McMinn had a career day with seven stops, a fumble recovery, and a sack. Senior Andrew Livingston made seven tackles with a hurry. LVC won on Homecoming for the seventh straight year, making its senior class only the fifth in school history to win all of its Homecoming games.

Last Week
For the second year in a row, Franklin & Marshall's defense held off a last second Lebanon Valley comeback attempt to earn a season-opening victory. The Diplomats (1-0) held LVC (0-1) inside their own 10-yard line in the final minute to secure a thrilling 42-37 win under the lights at Arnold Field on Thursday night, Sept. 3. After pushing across the apparent go-ahead score with less than a minute left to play, Brendon Irving's touchdown run was called back on a holding penalty. 

Four plays later, Tyler Cottle's fade pass to the back corner of the end zone was broken up by an F&M defender and the Dips took over on downs with 22 seconds left to play. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, LVC's offense finally came to life late in the period when Cottle found tight end Elijah Johnson down the right sideline for a touchdown. Tailback Jon Jones capped a four-play, 45-yard Dutchmen drive with a 29-yard rumble to pay dirt with 8:05 left in the first half and Marcus Brown-Dulan's extra-point cut the deficit to 14-13. Cottle completed three passes and rushed for 16 yards on LVC's next scoring drive and Irving finished it off with the first of his two rushing touchdowns, this one from 27 yards out with 1:22 left before the break. Lebanon Valley grabbed its first lead of the game early in the third when wideout Jeremy De La Cruz hauled in Cottle's 51-yard pass in traffic along the F&M sideline, made a move to free himself, and sprinted into the end zone, completing a very quick three-play, 64-yard scoring drive. 

After F&M capped a scoring drive with a 4th and goal TD pass, LVC came right back with an eight-play, 52 yard drive that ended when Brown-Dulan punched his field goal attempt through the uprights to put the home team back in front 30-28 with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter. On the team's next drive, F&M again converted a 4th down, this time with a 36-yard touchdown pass. 

Turnovers on back-to-back possessions hurt Lebanon Valley and aided the Dips in upping their advantage to 42-30 early in the fourth quarter. LVC responded with a balanced, methodical scoring drive consisting of four runs and three passes that culminated when Irving rushed off left end, made a cut back move to get around an F&M defender, and waltzed across the goal line for his second score of the night with 8:14 left play. Strong safety Kevin Antol came up huge defensively on the next series as his sack of Magarity on 3rd and 5 from the LVC 39-yard line erased any chance of F&M going for it on 4th down. The Dutchmen forced a punt and drove 81 yards in 13 plays but were unable to convert the potential game-winning score.

Antol Named to D3football.com Team of the Week
Senior SS Kevin Antol turned in a stellar performance under the lights at Arnold Field against Franklin & Marshall last Thursday night. On Tuesday, he was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week. Antol made a game-high 11 tackles, including ten solo stops, two tackles for loss, and the game's lone sack. Four of the team captain's stops came on one drive in the third quarter while his fourth quarter safety blitz crushed quarterback Matt Magarity and turned a third-and-short at the LVC 39-yard line into fourth-and-long for F&M, setting up the Flying Dutchmen's last offensive chance late in the contest.

Brown-Dulan Earns MAC Honors
Freshman K Marcus Brown-Dulan was named the MAC Football Special Teams Player of the Week on Sunday. The first-year player showed no signs of jitters in his first collegiate outing when the Flying Dutchmen hosted Franklin & Marshall under the lights this past Thursday night. Brown-Dulan was perfect on the night, going 4-of-4 on extra points and knocking down the game's only field goal from 26 yards out to give LVC a 30-28 lead in the third quarter.

Irving's Streak Continues
Lebanon Valley junior RB Brendon Irving is in the midst of an impressive streak of six 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 146 yards and two touchdowns. 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.

De La Cruzing
LVC sophomore wide receiver Jeremy De La Cruz had quite the debut in his first career start against Franklin & Marshall last Thursday night. All he did was catch nine balls for 134 yards, including a stellar 51-yard touchdown catch and run in traffic along the Diplomats' sideline that put Lebanon Valley ahead for the first time just after halftime. It was evident in the early going that he and quarterback Tyler Cottle had developed some chemistry in preseason camp.

Starting Fresh
After losing a number of 2014 mainstays to graduation last spring, the Dutchmen began the process of replacing those experienced players in the team's first game against F&M. On offense, quarterback Tyler Cottle, wide receivers Jeremy De La Cruzand Travis Saylor, tight end Elijah Johnson, and offensive lineman Ryan Kingshill all made their first career starts while defensively, cornerback Spencer Moser, linebacker Tom Gallagher, and defensive end Jermaine McQueen also started for the first time in their young careers.

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.

Conference Opener
The Dutchmen begin Middle Atlantic Conference play against Misericordia on Saturday afternoon.

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.

Noting LVC's Offense
Lebanon Valley's offense posted 37 points against Franklin & Marshall in its first outing of 2015. The Dutchmen gained 278 yards on the ground, led by Brendon Irving's 146 yards and two touchdowns on 19 attempts and Jon Jones' 61 yards and a score on just four touches (15.3 yards per carry), while Tyler Cottle threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns and picked up 42 yards on the ground in his first start under center. Jeremy De La Cruz was stellar in his first career start, hauling in nine catches for 134 yards and a score while Travis Saylor pulled in five catches for 51 yards. LVC committed three turnovers against F&M, two interceptions and a fumble. As a unit, the Dutchmen offense racked up 541 total yards in their season opener with a 7.8 yards per play average. LVC converted 6-of-11 third downs for a 54.6 percent conversion rate but did commit two offensive penalties for 25 yards.

Noting LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen defense got off to a bit of a rocky start against Franklin & Marshall last week, allowing 42 points and 501 yards of total offense but the Dips were aided by LVC turnovers that gave them short fields on two occasions. F&M put up 248 yards through the air and 253 on the ground. Strong safety Kevin Antol and inside linebacker Trevor St. Clair were stout against the Diplomats and recorded 11 tackles apiece with Antol adding 2 TFL and the game's lone sack. Llinebacker Reid Pavlik made seven solo tackles in the opener, defensive end Andrew Livingston made six stops including one tackle for loss, and free safety Connor Pierce and nose guard Clayton Williard each recorded 0.5 TFL. Cornerback Bryan Ek recorded LVC's lone interception of the game while linebacker Tommy Garner forced a fumble with St. Clair making the recovery.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
LVC got a strong outing from its special teams against F&M last Thursday, particularly from kicker Marcus Brown-Dulan and punter Spencer Moser. Brown-Dulan spelled starter Matthew Smoluk late in the first quarter and proceeded to go 4-for-4 on extra points and knock down the game's lone field goal from 26 yards out in the first appearance of his career. Moser punted twice against the Dips and helped change field position on both occasions with a 43.0 yard average, a long of 47 yards, and one punt that he dropped inside the F&M 20 yard line. Michael Gaval and Ryan Heim each averaged over 20 yards per kick return in their first action and Nick Newton averaged 53.3 yards per attempt on his seven kickoffs.

Scouting Misericordia
Misericordia is coming off a 2014 season in which the team went 1-9 overall and 1-8 in MAC play. The Cougars scored 28 points in their first outing of the year, a 42-28 loss to Utica, and racked up 322 yards of total offense. MU rushed for 233 yards but accumulated just 89 yards through the air. They gave up three rushing touchdowns, one passing score, a kickoff return touchdown, and two field goals to Utica last weekend but didn't turn the ball over. Quarterback Jeff Puckett is the team's leading rusher with 196 yards gained on 32 attempts. He also completed 11 passes for 89 yards but was sacked three times. Matt Martin and Dom Picarillo made a team-high 11 tackles each against Utica while Patrick Newins averaged an impressive 55 yards per punt with a long of 61 yards.

Who's Next?
LVC returns to the friendly confines of Arnold Field to host Stevenson in the team's second MAC contest of the young season. The Mustangs defeated Lebanon Valley 20-14 in Owings Mills, Md. in 2014.
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