September 9, 2018

Wilkes Spoils Football's Home Opener In OT

How It Happened
Lebanon Valley's home opener was spoiled by Wilkes on Saturday afternoon, as the Colonels erased an early deficit and escaped Arnold Field with a 30-27 overtime victory.

The Flying Dutchmen (0-2) looked poised to pull off the comeback victory after scoring the game-tying touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter but as he did all afternoon, WU quarterback Jose Tabora led the way during the visitors' game-winning touchdown drive in overtime.


With the Colonels (1-1) trailing 27-24 following Nick Bentz's 42-yard field goal that capped LVC's only overtime possession, Tabora completed two passes of 10-plus yards before sneaking across the goal line from one yard out to finish off Wilkes' OT drive and give the visitors their first win over the Dutchmen in eight years.

The loss was especially hard to take after Lebanon Valley put together a clutch 10-play, 61-yard drive that began with Dre Burch's 27-yard kick return with 3:15 remaining and ended when quarterback Kody Kegarise connected with wide receiver Dallas Arner for a two-yard touchdown in the left corner of the end zone with just 22 ticks left in the fourth quarter.

The Dutchmen took control in the early going, with Kegarise hooking up with new favorite target Tyeair Diggs for a 46-yard touchdown on the sixth play of the game. The defense kept the momentum rolling when linebackers Tyler Lutz and Alex Trujillocombined to stuff the Colonels on a 4th-and-1 attempt inside the LVC red zone on WU's first drive. Then it was running back Ryan Fink getting into the scoring act when he capped LVC's ensuing 11-play drive with a 24-yard touchdown scamper that increased the lead to 14-0 at the 4:07 mark of the first quarter.

Wilkes' offense tapped into the deep ball to move into position to score its first touchdown on the final play of the third quarter and Tabora showed off his arm strength during the team's game-tying TD drive midway through the second period as well.

LVC responded with a 10-play drive that resulted in a 40-yard field goal by Bentz with 4:36 remaining in the first half and the defense made another big play when pressure by safety Anthony Jenkins forced Tabora to misfire on a 4th-and-1 attempt from the Lebanon Valley six-yard line just before the break.

A strip-sack of Tabora by defensive end Wyett McLeod and fumble recovery by Jacob Whitfield early in the third quarter was negated when the Dutchmen fumbled the ball back to the Colonels two plays later. Wilkes proceeded to march 46 yards in five plays and take its first lead of the afternoon when Tabora threw his third touchdown pass of the game.

The Colonels had a chance to put the home team away late in the fourth quarter but the LVC defense made another key stop in holding the visitors to a field goal following a 20-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up more than 10 minutes in the fourth quarter. Safety Zachary Adams hit Tabora for a loss on 3rd-and-goal from the three-yard line, forcing a field goal and giving the offense the time it needed to convert the game-tying score before the end of regulation.

Inside the Numbers
- With the victory, WU reclaimed the all-time lead in the series at 24-23.
- Wilkes racked up 470 yards of total offense, while LVC managed 308.
- The Colonels controlled the time of possession in a big way, holding the ball for 36:20.
Kody Kegarise continued his strong start to the season, finishing 14-21 for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go along with 39 rushing yards.
Ryan Fink was LVC's leading rusher. He racked up 72 yards and a score on 13 carries.
Gary Wise led the way with a career-high six catches, while Tyeair Diggs posted 63 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Dallas Arner's fourth-quarter touchdown reception was the first of his career.
Tyler Lutz had a big game for the Dutchmen. The linebacker racked up a game-high 15 tackles, including 1.5 TFL, one sack, and one pass breakup.
Zachary Adams was also impressive, defensively. The safety made 11 tackles, with one TFL and one pass breakup.
- LVC forced the only Wilkes' turnover when Wyett McLeod recorded a strip-sack and Jacob Whitfield made the recovery.
Adam Wagaman and Anthony Jenkins posted one quarterback hurry apiece.
- Prior to Saturday's game, kicker Nick Bentz had never converted a field goal longer than 40 yards. Against the Colonels, he was 2-2 with makes from 42 and 40 yards out, respectively.
Dre Burch was solid in the return game, bringing back a pair of kicks for 59 total yards.
- Jose Tabora did it all for Wilkes. He finished 27-40 for 337 yards and two touchdowns through the air and finished as the team's leading rusher with 89 yards and one score.

Who's Next?
The Dutchmen open conference play at Lycoming on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 8.