September 23, 2017

Lebanon Valley Football Outlasts FDU-Florham

Photo Courtesy of Lebanon Valley Sports Information
It wasn't always pretty but it was the type of grind-it-out victory Lebanon Valley needed to get back to the .500 mark in a 24-14 win over Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) foe FDU-Florham at Arnold Field on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 23.

 
Penalties on both sides kept either team from getting into a rhythm and the squads combined for three turnovers. The Flying Dutchmen (2-2, 2-1 MAC), however, used a pair of interceptions to halt FDU (1-3, 0-3 MAC) drives. When the Devils came away with LVC's lone turnover on the day, the defense held deep in its own territory to preserve a one-point halftime lead.
 
Florham got the ball first but safety Blake Lutz ended the opening possession when he picked off a Jagger Green pass deep down the middle of the field at LVC's 29-yard line.
 
Lebanon Valley's second drive of the afternoon ended in points when running back Paxson Hayes burst through the middle of the line and into the end zone from seven yards out to cap a nine-play, 61-yard drive that gave the Dutchmen a 7-0 lead following a Marcus Brown extra point with 2:55 left in the first quarter. LVC rushed seven times for 50 yards during the series.
 
The momentum shifted when safety Zachary Adams was penalized for targeting, a call that was later overturned, midway through the second quarter. FDU set up 1st-and-goal at the Dutchmen four-yard line and was again aided by a penalty when LVC was whistled for an iffy facemask call on an apparent third-down stop.
 
A false start moved the Devils back to the nine-yard line but another Lebanon Valley penalty, this time an illegal-hands-to-the-face call, set up Florham for Green's four-yard touchdown run on the next play. A bad snap, however, forced kicker Nick Maciejewski to abandon the extra-point kick and try to run it in for two but linebacker Tom Gallagher dumped him for a loss on the play.
 
A fumble two plays into LVC's ensuing drive looked to be disastrous as it set up the visitors at Lebanon Valley's 19-yard line. The Devils moved the ball to the two-yard line and looked poised to take the lead but cornerback Nick Tucker made an outstanding play to tip a Green pass away from FDU standout wide receiver Malik Pressley on 4th-and-goal, preserving the slim 7-6 advantage heading into the break.
 
The Dutchmen opened the second half with a 10-play, 51-yard march to paydirt that ended when Hayes plowed across the goal line from two yards out with 9:34 remaining in the third quarter. Running back Kelvin Nieves saw his first extended action on the drive, rushing four times for 14 yards to set up LVC in plus territory.
 
Florham responded on their next possession, however, using a quick-tempo approach to put the Dutchmen back on their heels. The Devils needed just four plays to reach the end zone, as running Steve Iannone broke free for a 30-yard score. Green avoided pressure and scrambled before finding wideout Mike Panzarino in the back of the end zone to complete the two-point conversion and tie the game with 8:22 left in the third quarter.
 
LVC responded with another long scoring drive, this time capped by Brown's 32-yard field goal late in the third quarter. The Dutchmen were aided by a 37-yard kickoff return by Jeremy De La Cruz that set them up near midfield.
 
Lebanon Valley shut down the Devils on their first possession of the fourth quarter, with safety Cale Brusobreaking up a Green pass on second down and defensive end Guy Zimmerman's pressure forcing Green to get rid of the ball out of bounds on third down. The Dutchmen started with great field position on their next drive after a head's up fair catch by Adams gave them the ball back at the FDU 37-yard line. LVC was aided by a Devil's pass interference call and quarterback Tyler Sterner's shovel pass to Ryan Fink was a perfect call that led to a 26-yard touchdown with 11:28 left to play.
 
The Devils put together a solid drive on the ensuing possession and moved the ball to the edge of the red zone before a holding penalty put them behind the chains. After defensive linemen Adam Wagaman and Ryan Johnson forced Green into incomplete passes, linebacker Tim Schumacher put an exclamation point on the game when he picked off Green's fourth-down pass at the five-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.
 
The Dutchmen held the ball for the final 7:59, running 14 plays and driving 94 yards before using a pair of Sterner QB sneaks to run out the clock and seal the victory.
 
It Was Over When…
Trailing 24-14 early in the fourth quarter, FDU-Florham needed to cut into the deficit with a scoring drive. An LVC pass interference penalty and a 14-yard catch and run by Joe McCain put the Devils into Lebanon Valley territory before an offensive holding call slowed the FDU march at the 35-yard line. Faced with a 4th-and-20, quarterback Jagger Green lifted an attempt deep towards the end zone but linebacker Tim Schumacher rose up and picked it off, giving the Dutchmen the ball back with less than eight minutes to play. The visitors never possessed the ball again.
 
Standouts
LVC ground game, LVC linebackers, Marcus Brown – The Dutchmen got back to their bread and butter by rushing 55 times for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Jon Jones led the way with 73 yards, Paxson Hayes added a pair of scores on the ground, and even Ryan Fink did most of the work on a 26-yard shovel pass touchdown in the fourth quarter. Kelvin Nieves and Tim Pirrone also got in on the action, combining for 57 rushing yards. The linebacking corp combined for 19 tackles, including 13 by the trio of Tom GallagherTim Schumacher, and Tommy Garner. Garner and Schumacher also added sacks and Tyler Hodges broke up two passes. Marcus Brown was perfect on his three extra-point attempts and added a key 32-yard field goal that slowed the FDU-Florham momentum following a touchdown drive in the second half.
 
Inside the Numbers
- It was a pretty even contest, with LVC racking up 22 first downs and FDU managing 20.
- The Dutchmen had 320 yards of total offense, compared to 304 for Florham.
- The two teams combined for 16 penalties and 147 penalty yards on the day.
- Quarterback Tyler Sterner went 10-20 for 115 yards and one touchdown.
- Running back Jon Jones was the game's leading rusher with 73 yards on 16 carries, good enough for a 4.6 yards-per-carry.
Tyler Cottle was LVC's leading receiver with 28 yards on three catches, while Tim PirroneRyan Fink, and Patrick Clark each racked up 26 receiving yards.
- Linebacker Tom Gallagher was the team's leading tackler with five, including four solo stops.
- Linebackers Tim Schumacher and Tommy Garner and defensive lineman Jacob Whitfield accounted for the team's two sacks.
- Safety Blake Lutz added an interception for Lebanon Valley.
- Linebacker Dylan Lobach and Jordan Spahr and defensive end Austin Maguire added tackles for loss.
- Linbacker Tyler Hodges and cornerback Cody Davis broke up two passes each.
- The Dutchmen held FDU-Florham quarterback Jagger Green to 217 yards passing on 38 attempts. He had no touchdowns and two picks.
 
Who's Next?
The Dutchmen hit the road for the first time in three weeks when they travel to Widener next Saturday afternoon, Sept. 30.

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