September 18, 2017

Lebanon Valley Football Drops Last-Minute Heartbreaker to King's

Box Score King's 44, Lebanon Valley 39
How It HappenedIt was wild. It was thrilling. It was full of drama. It was all that and then some but unfortunately for Lebanon Valley, it was also a 44-39 last-minute loss to Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) foe King's at Arnold Field on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 16.

Trailing 38-32 with 4:34 left to play, the Flying Dutchmen (1-2, 1-1 MAC) began what proved to be a go-ahead scoring drive from their 47-yard line. Quarterback Tyler Sterner moved LVC in King's territory when hit wide receiver Tyler Cottle for a 16-yard gain on the drive's first play. Two plays later, he moved the offense inside the 10-yard line when hooked up with Tim Pirrone for 16 yards. One incompletion later and it was running back Ryan Fink who shimmied past a couple of Monarch defenders and into the end zone to complete the march. Marcus Brown's extra point gave the Dutchmen a one-point lead with 3:01 remaining.

And that was all the time King's (2-1, 1-1 MAC) needed.

After starting the ensuing possession at their own 25-yard line, the Monarchs marched into LVC territory where they faced a 4th-and-1 from the 31-yard line with 1:04 left on the clock. As he did for much of the game, quarterback Zach Whitehead made a play, picking up eight yards and moving his team into field goal range with less than a minute remaining. Aided by back-to-back Dutchmen facemask penalties, Whitehead plunged across the goal line on a quarterback draw from six yards out to put the visitors out in front for good with 25 seconds left.

A 31-yard kick return by Tyeair Diggs and subsequent King's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the ensuing kickoff gave Lebanon Valley a chance in the closing seconds. But after a short gain on a pass to wideout Jeremy De La Cruz, Sterner was picked off on the left sideline by cornerback Eli Vascos in the final moments to seal the victory for the Monarchs.

The Dutchmen opened the game by recording a safety following a blocked punt by Dylan Lobach before Brown added a 30-yard field goal early in the first quarter to put the home team ahead 5-0.

From there, it was all King's as the visitors scored 24 unanswered points, including a pair of second-quarter touchdowns and a 30-yard field goal from Mike Tumminello as the first half wound down.

LVC needed a spark and got one before the break thanks to a nine-yard touchdown pass from Sterner to Pirrone as the first-half clock expired. The score cut the deficit to a more manageable 24-12 heading into the locker room

That late first-half momentum carried over as the Dutchmen found paydirt on their first drive of the second half when Sterner hit a streaking Cottle across the middle and the receiver did the rest, breaking a tackle and scampering for a 40-yard touchdown.

The defense got into the action when defensive end Guy Zimmerman forced Whitehead to fumble on the Monarchs' next series. Fellow defensive lineman Trent Donlan fell on the loose ball and while LVC didn't produce points on the ensuing drive, defensive end Austin Maguire stripped Whitehead on King's next drive and Dylan Lobach recovered to give the ball back to the Lebanon Valley offense.

The visitors proved game as the defense made a goal-line stand and forced the Dutchmen to turn it over on downs. When LVC got the ball back, however, De La Cruz made the big play his team needed when he pulled in a Sterner pass, lowered his shoulder, knocked off a King's defender and scampered across the goal line for a 37-yard score that gave his squad its first lead since the first quarter.

Then it was the special teams turn. On the ensuing kickoff by Nick BentzTyler Hodges hit King's return man Marquis Miller and jarred the ball loose, allowing teammate Steven Salcedo to fall on top of it and set the Dutchmen up deep in Monarchs' territory. Fink finished off the drive eight plays later when he went airborne and leapt over the pile from three yards out for his first touchdown run of the game with 2:07 left in the third quarter.

But luck proved to be in King's corner when, with all the momentum seemingly in favor of Lebanon Valley, Whitehead connected with H-back Trey Campbell on 4th-and-4 from LVC's 44-yard line early in the fourth quarter. The play resulted in a first down and more when three Dutchmen defenders crunched each other, allowing Campbell to make off for the end zone. Following the score, Whitehead went head over heels to complete the two-point conversion and tie the game with 14:19 left to play.

The visitors reclaimed the lead later in the quarter when running back Jordan Downes finished off a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Tumminello missed the extra point, however, leaving the door open for LVC with less than five minutes left.

Turning Point
After the back-and-forth struggle has swung in the favor of LVC following Ryan Fink's go-ahead touchdown run, King's moved the ball into Dutchmen territory with little more than a minute remaining. Facing a 4th-and-1 from the LVC 31-yard line, Zach Whitehead picked up the first down on the ground and was aided by a facemask penalty that put his team well within field-goal range. By the time Lebanon Valley got the ball back, the Monarchs had taken the lead and it was too late to respond.

Standouts
Tyler SternerGuy Zimmerman, LVC special teams - Props to Sterner for hanging tough through a slow start. He worked through the team's early passing woes and eventually finished with a career-high 232 passing yards and three touchdowns. Zimmerman turned in a monstrous performance and wreaked havoc in the King's backfield all day. He finished with eight tackles, including a pair for loss, a sack, a forced fumble, a pass breakup, and a quarterback hurry. The Dutchmen special teams unit was particularly potent in the kick return game, as Jeremy De La Cruz and Tyeair Diggs combined for seven returns for 172 yards. Each player had a return of at least 30 yards on the day. Tyler Hodges caused a key turnover when he forced a fumble during a King's kickoff return in the third quarter and teammate Steven Salcedo made the recovery.

Inside the Numbers
- King's racked up 524 yards of total offense, compared to 321 for the Dutchmen.
- The Monarchs managed 30 first downs, while Lebanon Valley picked up 16.
- LVC won the turnover battle 4-3. All four King's TOs were fumbles.
Tyler Sterner finished the day 14-30 for 232 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
Tim Pirrone was LVC leading rusher with nine carries for 33 yards, while Ryan Fink added a pair of touchdowns on the ground.
- Pirrone was also the team's leading receiver with 73 yards. Pirrone, Tyler Cottle and Jeremy De La Cruz each caught four balls and recorded touchdown receptions.
- Linebacker Tommy Garner made a team-high nine tackles, including one for loss.
- Defensive end Guy Zimmerman recorded eight tackles, two TFL, a sack, a forced fumble, a quarterback hurry, and a pass breakup.
Tim SchumacherTyler Hodges, and Austin Maguire also forced fumbles, with Dylan LobachSpencer MoserTrent Donlan, and Steven Salcedo making recoveries.
- Quarterback Zach Whitehead was King's top weapon, finishing 25-37 for 373 yards and two TDs to go along with 76 rushing yards and three scores on 22 attempts.

Who's Next?
The Dutchmen close out a two-game homestand when they host FDU-Florham at Arnold Field on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 23. The contest will serve as the program's annual Coach to Cure MD Game.

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