October 1, 2015

PREVIEW: Lebanon Valley Football Hosts Lycoming for Pink Game

Photo courtesy of LVC Athletics
Five Things
  • Lebanon Valley is holding its annual Pink Game this afternoon as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to remind female fans and family to be screened regularly for breast cancer.
  • LVC is coming off a 27-17 setback at the hands of defending Middle Atlantic Conference champion Widener on Friday, Sept. 25.
  • The Dutchmen defense ranks second in the MAC with seven interceptions, trailing only Stevenson with ten.
  • Junior RB Brendon Irving carries a streak of nine games with 100-plus rushing yards dating back to last season into Saturday's game.
  • Irving leads the MAC in rushing (571 yards) by more than 150 yards (Misericordia's Jeff Puckett ranks second with 400 yards).
Pink Game
LVC is holding its annual Pink Game this afternoon as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to remind female fans and family to be screened regularly for breast cancer. Baked goods and t-shirts will be sold, a football signed by Lebanon Valley players will be auctioned off, and donations will go to the American Cancer Society. A number of football players and cheerleaders will be wearing pink sweatbands and bows.

Series History
Today's game is the 31st meeting all-time ... Lycoming leads the series 25-5, winning the first 21 games, but LVC has won five of the last nine ... The first meeting was on Nov. 19, 1955, a 25-7 Lycoming win ... The two teams played in 1956, then did not play again until 1985 ... Lycoming blocked an extra-point attempt to escape with a 30-29 overtime victory in the teams' 2014 meeting ... LVC's 14-7 win over Lycoming at Arnold Field in 2013 was the program's first over a nationally-ranked team … Coach Jim Monosis 5-16 against Lyco.

Last Year
Lebanon Valley lost an overtime heartbreaker at Lycoming, 30-29, in a thrilling back-and-forth battle between the 2013 MAC co-champions. LVC's Billy Powanda scored four touchdowns and Brendon Irving ran for 184 yards, but the Warriors (7-2, 6-2 MAC) got a 411-yard, four-touchdown day from quarterback Tyler Jenny and a key blocked PAT in overtime to escape with the win. Irving became the seventh Dutchman to cross the season 1,000-yard mark, and Powanda tied the school record for touchdowns in a game. Lycoming's air attack produced a 228-yard, three-touchdown day for Ryan Umpleby, but the Flying Dutchmen (3-6, 3-5 MAC) managed to hold feature back Craig Needhammer, who ran for 239 yards the week prior, to only 34 yards on 16 carries.Trevor St. Clair was the defensive star with a fumble recovery, a key fourth-quarter interception that led to a touchdown, and a PAT block. Zach Wierman and Ricky Feggins each had interceptions, and Andrew Livingston made six tackles with a sack. Frank Gaffney led all Dutchmen with 10 tackles.

Last Week
Lebanon Valley failed to convert a number of chances in the team's 27-17 loss to defending Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) champion Widener at Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium on Friday night, Sept. 25. The Flying Dutchmen (1-3, 1-2 MAC) mustered just three points in the first half despite starting three of the team's first four drives at their own 44-yard line, 46-yard line, and Widener's 48-yard line. Marcus Brown's 28-yard field goal got LVC on the board first but the Pride (2-2, 2-1 MAC) responded with a 6-play, 69-yard scoring drive on the team's ensuing possession capped by Robert Getz's 39-yard touchdown scamper. Widener converted a key 3rd & 15 on the team's second-quarter scoring drive that saw quarterback Seth Klein complete seven passes for 87 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown lob to wideout Connor Schlegel. The Dutchmen defense held when Pride kicker Ryan O'Hara pushed his field goal attempt wide right just before halftime but the unit allowed the home team to march 74 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown to open the second half, making it 21-3 Widener with 12:09 left in the third quarter. Lebanon Valley finally got the big play it desperately needed when wide receiver Tim Pirrone took an end around and tossed a 76-yard touchdown pass to fellow wideout Travis Saylor in front of the Dutchmen sideline on the team's next possession, cutting the deficit to 21-10 in the blink of an eye. LVC held the Pride to field goals on back-to-back possessions but a Widener goal line stand to begin the fourth quarter negated a pair of impressive Brendon Irving runs and put a dent in Lebanon Valley's comeback bid. Not until strong safetyTim Schumacher forced and recovered a fumble in punt coverage and Tyler Cottle spelled starting quarterback Jeremy Franck late in the fourth quarter did the Dutchmen offense put anything of substance together. Cottle led a 7-play, 41 yard scoring drive finished off by Ryan Fink's 1-yard touchdown run up the gut with 3:29 left to play. Defensive back Bryan Ek forced and recovered a Getz fumble on Widener's next drive and Cottle again appeared to be moving LVC towards points but he was sacked and stripped of the ball with 55 seconds left, ending any hope of a Dutchmen comeback. With the loss, the Dutchmen dropped to 25-16-4 all-time in night games. This is the first year in which LVC played two night games in one season since 1960.

Program First
Saturday's game is a rematch of the 2013 MAC co-champions. When the two teams met that season, Lebanon Valley's defense turned in a dominating effort to lead the Dutchmen to an upset of #24 Lycoming, 14-7, in front of a standing-room-only Homecoming crowd. It was the program's first win over a ranked opponent. Thanks to their tiebreaking victory, the Dutchmen earned the conference's automatic NCAA postseason tournament berth.

MAC Rushing Leader
Lebanon Valley junior running back Brendon Irving leads the MAC in rushing with 571 total yards on the ground. He's also tops in the league with a 142.8 yards per game average. Among running backs who've carried the ball more than 50 carries, he leads the conference with a 7.4 yards per carry average.

The Streak
In addition to his status as the MAC's top rusher, Irving is in the midst of an impressive streak of nine games with 100-plus rushing yards dating back to last season. The 2014 USA College Football All-American's most recent outing at Widener saw him rush 16 times for 115 yards after carrying the ball 23 times for 120 yards against Stevenson the week prior. He rushed 19 times for a career-high 190 yards despite playing for just three quarters against Misericordia in week two and 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.

No Fly Zone
Lebanon Valley's secondary has been one of the MAC's best to this point in the season. The Dutchmen rank second in the league with seven interceptions behind only Stevenson with ten. Cornerback Ricky Feggins ranks second in the conference with three picks behind only Stevenson's Antonio Johnson who has recorded four INTs. Fellow corner Bryan Ek has picked off two passes this fall, good enough to rank him t-3rd in the MAC. Cornerback Spencer Moser, a converted running back from a year ago, has shown off his ball-hawking tendencies as he and linebacker Trevor St. Clair have each intercepted one pass.

The Pirrone Effect
LVC's Tim Pirrone has proven to be the team's most versatile athlete to this point in the season. The speedy sophomore has seen time at wide receiver, kick returner, and quarterback and has fared well at each position. Despite touching the ball just eight times at Widener last week, he rushed for 34 yards on a wide receiver reverse that led to a Dutchmen field goal, threw a 76-yard touchdown pass on another end around, made one reception for four yards, and returned five kickoffs for 125 yards with a long of 39 yards.

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

Freshman K Marcus Brown – 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
After a pair of 37-point outings to begin the season, Lebanon Valley's offense has hit a bit of a speed bump as of late. In the team's last two games, the Flying Dutchmen are averaging just 15.5 points. Brendon Irving remains LVC's top offensive threat after posting his ninth straight game with 100-plus rushing yards at Widener last week. The junior running back is averaging 142.8 yards per contest and 7.4 yards per attempt. Tyler Cottle, Tim Pirrone, and Jeremy Franck have all spent time under center this season with Cottle leading the team with 336 passing yards and two touchdowns. Travis Saylor (218 yards) and Jeremy De La Cruz(181 yards) have been the team's top receivers, each with a touchdown. The Dutchmen are averaging over 400 yards of total offense per game but more than four turnovers per contest have hurt them so far this season.

Noting LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen defense has been strong against the run to this point in the season, allowing just 179.8 yards on the ground per game. LVC's secondary shut down Misericordia and Stevenson before Widener quarterback Seth Klein found much success throwing the ball last week. The Lebanon Valley defense, led by leading-tackler Trevor St. Clair, will look to rebound this week. St. Clair has 31 tackles on the year including one TFL, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Kevin Antol, Andrew Livingston, andTommy Garner lead the team with three TFL apiece with Antol, Livingston, and Guy Zimmerman recording one sack each. Ricky Feggins has been a ball magnet, making three interceptions so far this year while Bryan Ek has made two picks and forced and recovered a fumble. Spencer Moser has an interception and Tim Schumacher has forced and recovered one fumble. Lebanon Valley is holding opponents to 23.3 points per game and has caused 11 turnovers this fall.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
Special teams has been quite the bright spot for Lebanon Valley this season. Freshman Marcus Brown has emerged as a reliable kicker, having made three field goals this year and earning the MAC's Special Teams Player of the Week moniker after week one.Spencer Moser is averaging nearly 40 yards per punt and has booted five kicks inside the opposing team's 20-yard line. Nick Newton's kickoffs are traveling an average of 53.4 yards while kick returner Tim Pirrone broke off a season-long 39-yard return last week. LVC has also taken advantage of the opposition's mistakes, including forcing a missed field goal against Widener last Friday.

Scouting Lycoming
Lycoming's record mirrors that of LVC's as the Warriors are 1-3 overall and 1-2 in MAC play. The Warriors, coming off a 32-10 setback to no. 25 Albright last weekend, are averaging 21.3 points per game but are allowing opponents to score over 30 points per contest. Lyco has had a fairly balanced attack, averaging 161 yards on the ground and 192.8 passing yards a game with Blake Bowman (334 yards, 4 TDs) leading the team in rushing and quarterback Chase Whiteman throwing for 697 yards and four scores. Defensively, the Warriors have gotten after the quarterback, registering ten sacks this fall with Jon Rummel (3.5 sacks) leading the way. Matt Malecki is the team's leading-tackler with 25 while Mike Ward has made a team-high two interceptions. Lyco has committed 23 penalties and is minus-6 in the turnover category.

Who's Next?
The Dutchmen will host FDU-Florham in the team's annual Homecoming game on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 10. LVC has won its last seven Homecoming contests.
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