September 6, 2018

Wilkes Football Game Notes vs. Lebanon Valley

Wilkes Colonels (0-1) vs. Lebanon Valley Dutchmen (0-1)
Saturday, September 8, 2018 - 1:00 p.m.
Arnold Field

Wilkes University hits the road for the first time under the direction of Jonathan Drach when the team heads to Annville, Pa. to face Lebanon Valley College at Arnold Field Saturday. The game between Middle Atlantic Conference foes will be contested as a non-conference game this season with the expansion of the MAC to 11 teams. The Colonels enter after a 28-24 setback to Hartwick College in week one. The Dutchmen also enter at 0-1 after dropping a road contest at No. 24 Franklin & Marshall College 44-21.

Jonathan Drach (Western Michigan ‘04) was named head coach of the Wilkes University football team on February 8, 2018 becoming the ninth mentor of the program since its inception in 1946. Drach will also serve as the offensive coordinator during the 2018 season. Drach comes to Wilkes after 11 years at Hobart. As the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Hobart, Drach was instrumental in leading the Statesmen to six Liberty League Conference championships, seven NCAA playoff appearances and three consecutive undefeated regular seasons. He began his career as the quarterbacks coach in 2007 until adding offensive coordinator to his responsibilities in 2014.

Drach coached the Liberty League Offensive Player of the Year in 2007, 2014, 2016 and 2017 and the ECAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2007 and 2016. He also coached seven All-League quarterbacks and a Bill Middleton Memorial Football Award Winner. A native of St. Charles, IL, Drach earned his bachelor’s degree in business finance and economics from Western Michigan University in 2004. A three-year starter, he enjoyed his finest year as a senior, completing a single season record 67 percent of his passes for 1,499 yards and 13 TDs.

Joe Buehler (Lebanon Valley ‘89) enters his third year as the Lebanon Valley head coach in 2018 after serving on the staff for 12 years as the program’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Buehler helped lead the LVC football program to new heights. His lines have turned in some of the conference’s top-rated rushing offenses and sack protection numbers. He mentored all-American tackles Sean Tetreault ’10 and Jason Sneeringer ’11, and guard Brendan Kozub ’14. Buehler was an outstanding football player at LVC, where he was a four-year letterwinner and a Second Team All-MAC selection as an offensive lineman.

This will be the 47th meeting between the schools with each team having 23 wins in the series. LVC has taken the last seven contests including a 36-0 win at Schmidt Stadium last season. The last Colonels win came at LVC in 2010, 35-28 in overtime.

Wilkes stays on the road and opens MAC play in Doylestown, Pa. against No. 23 Delaware
Valley on Saturday, September 15 at 1:00 p.m. Last season Delaware Valley pulled away late to defeat the Colonels 34-14 at Schmidt Stadium.

- Junior Jose Tabora completed 22-of-38 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns in a mistake free season opener against Hartwick. The dual-threat quarterback also led the Colonels rushing attack in week one with 13 carries for 61 yards.

- Senior wide receiver Jeff Steeber was the top target in the passing attack for Tabora against Hartwick. He caught seven balls for 103 yards and two touchdowns including a 51-yarder to tie the score at 14-14 just before halftime. He now has 61 receptions for 643 yards and five touchdowns in his career.

- Wide receiver Derek Nelson caught four passes for 37 yards to open his junior season. Sophomore Nick Yanik hauled in two balls for 28 yards and freshman Juan Salas-Negron opened his career with two catches for 20 yards.

- A trio of tight ends each caught a pass from Tabora in week one. Junior Justin Deihm caught a four-yard touchdown in the third quarter to tie the score at 21-21. Junior Bryce Harrison (five yards) and sophomore Jordan Jones (nine yards) each also caught passes.

- Wilkes did not hand the ball off to the running backs often in week one’s gameplan with sophomore Brandon Taragna carrying the ball four times and freshman Kelvin Gonzalez rushing once. Gonzalez was active in the passing attack out the backfield with three receptions for 19 yards and Taragna also caught one pass for nine yards.

- Junior linebacker Bud Moyer opened the season with 14 total tackles to rank third for the week among all MAC defenders.

- Sophomore defensive back Amari Peterson was second on the Colonels defense with eight tackles against Hartwick and he also recorded one pass breakup. Senior defensive back Devon Fink led the team with three pass breakups.

- Four Colonels finished week one with five tackles in senior linebacker Michael Murphy, senior linebacker Lukas Wood, sophomore defensive lineman Vinny Bobbin and freshman defensive back Andrew Chang.

- Junior defensive lineman Vinnie Werner made an impact up front with 1.5 sacks of the Hartwick quarterback. Sophomore defensive lineman Pat Ricci was credited with 0.5 sacks in the opener.

- The Colonels kick return game was strong against Hartwick with Fink bringing one back 70 yards and having a 43.0 yard average on his two returns. Senior Jacob Kadis also returned three times for 42 yards.

- Sophomore Alexander DeSpirito had a stellar debut in the Navy and Gold as he connected on all three extra point attempts and also a 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter against Hartwick.

- DeSpirito also punted four times with a long of 37 yards and the Wilkes coverage team did a fantastic job not allowing a single yard in the return game on punts. The kickoff coverage was great as well covering freshman David Kutteroff’s kicks as Hartwick only averaged 9.0 yards on five returns.

- Sophomore quarterback Kody Kegarise completed 7-of-15 passes 103 yards and one touchdown in the season opener against Franklin & Marshall. He also led the way in the ground game with 12 carries for 53 yards and one more score. Junior quarterback Brett Cohen also saw action against F&M going 3-of-4 for 43 yards.

- Junior wide receiver Tyeair Diggs caught three pass for 77 yards including a 59-yard touchdown. He also had a 96-yard kick return for a touchdown after he already brought a kickoff back 61 yards to set LVC up in F&M territory.

- Senior running back Steve Salerno rushed five times for 31 yards in the opener for a hefty 6.2 yards-per-carry average.

- Junior cornerback Tyler Okomba and senior free safety Zachary Adams led LVC with six tackles in week one against F&M. Okomba added one pass breakup and Adams had one tackle-for-loss.

- Sophomore linebacker Tyler Lutz led the defense with 1.5 tackles-for-loss including 0.5 sacks.

- Senior defensive end Austin Maguire registered a sack and fellow senior defensive tackle Ryan Johnson recorded a half sack.

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