September 6, 2018

PREVIEW: Football Welcomes Wilkes For Home Opener

Series History
Today's game is the 47th meeting all-time ... After nearly a half century of competition between the two schools, the series is tied at 23-23 ... Lebanon Valley has won seven in row over the Colonels ... LVC head coach Joe Buehler is coming off back-to-back blowout wins against WU in his first two matchups with the Colonels … A 46-0 LVC win in 2014 was the team's first shutout victory since 2009 and biggest since a 49-0 blanking of Lincoln in 1949 ... The Dutchmen added another shutout to the docket last year thanks to a 36-0 win in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. ... The last Wilkes victory in the series came in 2010 when the Colonels won 35-28 in overtime … The first meeting in the series came on Oct. 3, 1959, a 15-6 LVC win.
 
Last Week
Lebanon Valley's electric start wasn't enough keep nationally-ranked Franklin & Marshall at bay in the team's 44-21 season-opening loss at F&M's Shadek Stadium last Saturday. Quarterback Kody Kegarise impressed in his first career start, as the sophomore finished 7-15 for 103 yards and touchdown. He was also the team's leading rusher with 53 yards and a score. Tyeair Diggs was also stellar in the opener. In addition to three receptions for 77 yards and a score, he averaged nearly 36 yards per kick return, including a 96-yard return for a touchdown and a 61-yard return early in the second quarter. The Flying Dutchmen struck first thanks to a 44-yard touchdown run by Kegarise that capped the team's opening drive of the game but the Diplomats got things rolling late in the first quarter and never looked back, scoring 38 unanswered points across the next two quarters. Kegarise and Diggs played pitch and catch for a 13-yard touchdown with 6:26 left in the third but F&M answered when running back Keshon Farmer scampered 62 yards for a score on the next drive. Diggs capped the game's scoring when he took the ensuing kickoff to the house. Tyler Okomba and Zachary Adams each made six tackles for LVC, while Austin MaguireTyler Lutz, and Ryan Johnson combined for two sacks.  

 
Last Year
Lebanon Valley rolled in a 36-0 thrashing of Wilkes in the team's most-recent meeting last September. The Flying Dutchmen racked up 354 yards of total offense, compared to just 146 for WU. The defense pitched a shutout and the offense racked up 221 on the ground. LVC committed no penalties and won the turnover battle 5-0. The Dutchmen opened the game with an impressive 16-play, 50-yard drive that ended with a field goal and the defense quickly made a statement when defensive end Ryan Johnson recovered a fumble on the Colonels' first play from scrimmage. From there, LVC never looked back. Linebacker Tyler Lutz impressed in just the second game of his collegiate career, recording six tackles and adding an interception with a 22-yard return.
 
Diggs Earns MAC Honor
Thanks to his outstanding performance at Franklin & Marshall on Saturday afternoon, LVC's Tyeair Diggs was named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Week. In the season opener against the nationally-ranked Diplomats, Diggs was the catalyst for a number of big plays for the Dutchmen. The junior was especially effective in the return game, with his most impressive effort coming on a 96-yard kick return for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. It was his second impressive return of the game after he set up LVC in F&M territory thanks to a 61-yard scamper to begin the second quarter. At the wide receiver position, Diggs also hauled in three catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.
 
Team Captains
LVC has four first-time team captains in 2018 in seniors Zachary AdamsTyler HodgesGary Wise, as well as junior Anthony Jenkins. Senior Ryan Fink serves as captain for the second year in a row. The group was elected by their teammates after the 2017 campaign.
 
Previewing With Coach Buehler
Head coach Joe Buehler '89 sat down for an interview that hit on a number of topics, including bright spots from the team's opener at F&M, which units he was impressed by last weekend, and his thoughts on the upcoming contest against Wilkes.
 

 
Dutchmen Pegged Sixth
Lebanon Valley was picked to finish sixth in the MAC Football Preseason Coaches' Poll. LVC exceeded preseason expectations a year ago by finishing fifth in the MAC, despite being predicted to finish seventh in last fall's poll. Delaware Valley, the defending MAC champion, earned the poll's top spot with 98 points and eight first-place votes. Stevenson earned the runner-up spot, receiving two first-place votes and totaled 88 points. Widener was pegged third with 79 points and one first-place vote, while Albright and Lycoming rounded out the top five with 73 and 64 points, respectively. The Dutchmen received 59 points in just missing out on the top five.
  
LVC's Offense
Lebanon Valley's offense got off to a tremendous start against F&M last week before eventually being stifled by one of the nation's top defenses as the game wore on. Quarterback Kody Kegarise showed off his dual-threat ability when he broke a 44-yard touchdown run that finished off LVC's first drive. He also threw the first touchdown of his young career to wide receiver Tyeair Diggs in the third quarter. He finished with 103 yards through the air. Diggs was the team's leading receiver with three catches for 77 yards and a score. The ground game struggled, with Kegarise finishing as the team's top rusher against the Diplomats. After managing just 89 yards on the ground last week, the running back trio of Ryan FinkHunter Wilson, and Steve Salerno, along with the offensive line, will look to get rolling this weekend against Wilkes. The unit will also try to do a better job of protecting the ball after losing three fumbles a week ago.
 
LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen defense will look to bounce back after surrendering 44 points to Franklin & Marshall a week ago. Lebanon Valley was especially susceptible to the big play, as the Diplomats managed three scoring plays of 60-plus yards. Cornerback Tyler Okomba led the way with six solo tackles and a pass breakup, while safety Zachary Adams also logged six solo stops. Linebackers Tyler Lutz and Alex Trujillo each racked up five tackles, with Lutz posting a team-high 1.5 tackles for loss. Lutz and defensive lineman Ryan Johnsoneach added half a sack, while defensive end Austin Maguire recorded one of his own. The unit allowed more than 500 yards of total offense to the high-powered Diplomats and will look to remedy that against the Colonels this week.
 
LVC's Special Teams
It was all about Tyeair Diggs' performance on special teams last Saturday. The return man was electric, taking one kickoff to the house to the tune of 96 yards after returning one kick for 61 yards earlier in the contest. He also returned F&M's lone punt of the day for 14 yards. Nick Bentz showed off his leg on kickoffs, averaging 64 yards per attempt with one touchback, while punter Adam Domovich logged a long kick of 52 yards and downed another inside the 20-yard line.
 
Scouting Wilkes
Like the Dutchmen, Wilkes is coming off a season-opening loss. First-year head coach Jonathan Drach's first game was a slim 28-24 loss to Hartwick. The Colonels managed just 64 yards rushing but made up for it by racking up 234 yards and three touchdowns through the air, as quarterback Jose Tabora went 22-38 on the day. Linebacker Bud Moyer also had a big day against Hartwick, finishing with a team-best 14 total tackles. The Colonels have also not turned the ball over yet.
 
Who's Next?
LVC opens MAC play at conference rival Lycoming on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 15.
 
Stay Connected
Be sure to follow @lvcathletics on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for the most in-depth coverage of LVC athletics.