Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lebanon Valley Football - Dutchman Face Tough Test at No. 24 Stevenson

Photo Courtesy of Lebanon Valley Athletics
Five Things
  1. Lebanon Valley earned its first win of the season in a 38-20 MAC-opening victory over Wilkes last week.
  2. The Dutchmen ground game got going to the tune of 57 carries for 369 yards (6.5 ypc) and four touchdowns in the win.
  3. Stevenson is ranked in a national poll for the first time in program history (No. 24 - Top 25).
  4. LVC's only win over a nationally-ranked opponent in program history came against Lycoming in 2013.
  5. Stevenson defensive back Austin Tennessee is the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Week.
Series History
Saturday's game between Lebanon Valley and Stevenson is the sixth meeting all-time ... Lebanon Valley leads the overall series 3-2 ... Stevenson just recently added football beginning in 2011 ... The Dutchmen dropped the last meeting between the squads at Mustang Stadium 20-14 in 2014 after winning the first game held at Stevenson 31-28 in 2012 ... LVC won the first three meetings between the programs, while the Mustangs have taken the last two ... Stevenson earned a 17-14 victory over the Dutchmen in last year's meeting at Arnold Field that saw the teams combine to commit 12 turnovers. 

Last Year
Lebanon Valley's defense shined but eight turnovers doomed the Flying Dutchmen in the team's 17-14 setback to Stevenson at Arnold Field on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 19. LVC threw four interceptions and lost four fumbles in a wild game that also saw the Mustangs turn the ball over four times. Cory Pietrzyk's 37-yard fumble recovery and touchdown off a Rasheed Lashley strip sack with 4:59 left in the third quarter proved the difference. Trailing 10-7 at halftime, the Dutchmen got the shot in the arm they needed when defensive end John Salcedo stripped Stevenson running back Kiandre Burrell and strong safety Kevin Antol fell on top of it just across midfield in LVC territory. Three plays later, quarterback Tim Pirrone hit wideout Travis Saylor for 43 yards to set up Lebanon Valley inside the Stevenson 5-yard line. Pirrone's QB sneak from the 1-yard line capped the 6-play, 52-yard scoring drive. Kicker Marcus Brown's extra point gave LVC its first lead of the day at 14-10 with 12:58 remaining in the third quarter. Tim Sternfield's 21-yard field goal put the Mustangs ahead 10-7 late in the first quarter after the Dutchmen erased an early 7-0 deficit when Pirrone rushed off right end and across the goal line from eight yards out with 7:18 to play in the quarter. The touchdown was set up when Tim Schumacher and Chris Santana combined to take down Eric Javie following Antol's forced fumble when a bad snap was juggled by Sternfield during an attempted punt two plays earlier. A nightmarish start for LVC that included a fumble and two interceptions on the team's first three possessions gave the Mustangs the chance they needed to grab the early advantage. After Jimmy Lauer made the recovery following the Dutchmen's first turnover, the visitors marched 31 yards to paydirt in four plays, the last of which saw quarterback Jeff Farrah connect with wide receiver Seth Jordan for an 8-yard score.  

Last Week
Lebanon Valley used a dominant run game to defeat Wilkes 38-20 under the lights at Arnold Field in the team's home opener on Saturday night, Sept. 10. The Flying Dutchmen put together an impressive six-play drive to begin the game that saw Brendon Irving rush three times for 30 yards before Jon Jones scampered off right end, raced 27 yards down the sideline, and jaunted across the goal line to put LVC on the board first. It was more of the same on the team's next possession as Irving, Jones, and quarterback Tim Pirrone combined to rush eight times for 59 yards. Jones capped the series with his second touchdown run of the first quarter, this time from 24 yards out. LVC took advantage of good field position early in the second quarter and marched 44 yards to paydirt. The key play came when Pirrone hit tight end Dylan Berberick for 21 yards to set up the Dutchmen inside the 10-yardline. Ryan Fink forced his way across the goal line three plays later to give Lebanon Valley a 21-0 lead with 11:39 left in the first half. The Colonels showed signs of life when they drove 70 yards in 11 plays on their next possession, culminating with a Ryan Dailey touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Armstrong from five yards out that got Wilkes on the board before the break. The Dutchmen answered with a methodical 15-play, 71-yard drive that was capped by Marcus Brown's 22-yard field goal. The score gave LVC a 17-point cushion heading into halftime. It took Lebanon Valley four plays to increase its lead to 31-7, as the team moved the ball 70 yards on its first series of the third quarter. A hustle play by Gary Wise paid off in a big way when he ran stride for stride with Fink as he sprinted towards the end zone before recovering the tailback's ensuing fumble that bounced into the end zone with 12:25 remaining in the period. Wilkes took advantage of the lone Dutchmen turnover on the night, a fumbled punt, by driving 46 yards in nine plays and punching it into the end zone when Dailey kept the ball and rushed across the goal line at the 7:35 mark. LVC wasn't done, however, and Wise put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter when he hauled in a well-placed fourth-down lob from Pirrone near the right sideline and stretched for the corner pylon with 11:23 left to make it 38-14. The visitors added a late touchdown but cornerback Spencer Moser and middle linebacker Tom Gallagher put an exclamation point on the defensive effort when Moser tipped the ensuing two-point conversion attempt into the air before Gallagher picked it off with 2:30 remaining in the game.

Night Time is the Right Time
With the victory, LVC continued its strong efforts in night games, improving to 26-16-4 all-time in contests under the lights. Saturday's contest was the team's first night game since playing at Widener last fall, it was the team's first home night game since hosting Franklin & Marshall in the season opener last September, and it was the team's first home game victory in prime time since defeating Montclair State at Arnold Field to being the 2013 campaign.

First of Many
Last Saturday night's victory was the first for Joe Buehler '89 since taking over as LVC head coach following the retirement of the program's all-time winningest coach Jim Monos last fall.

Return of the No Fly Zone
LVC's defense shined bright under the lights, especially in the turnover department. The Dutchmen picked off four Wikes' passes, starting with Tommy Garner's first-quarter interception. Mike Gilger got into the action with 3:44 left in the third quarter and Alex Trujillo picked off Dailey at the Wilkes 41-yardline on the Colonels' next possession. Brendan Yetter capped the defense's big night with a leaping pick at midfield that he returned 25 yards early in the fourth quarter, forcing quarterback Ryan Dailey from the game in the process.

Pounding the Rock
Lebanon Valley's offense got back to doing what it does best against Wilkes - running the football. Behind a stout performance from the team's offensive line that was without starting left tackle Ryan Kingshill for most of the fourth quarter, the Dutchmen ran the ball 57 times for 369 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per attempt, and four touchdowns. The dominant performance saw Ryan Finkrush 10 times for 109 yards and a touchdown, while Brendon Irving narrowly missed reaching the 100-yard mark with 96 markers on 19 attempts. Jon Jones scampered for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 13 carries, while Steve Salerno made the most of his playing time by rushing six times for 48 yards (7.7 ypc) capped by a crushing game-ending run that saw him remove a Colonel defender's helmet from his head. Quarterback Tim Pirrone showed off his dual-threat ability by taking off seven times and picking up 39 yards in the process.

Wise Guy
Sophomore wide receiver Gary Wise turned in the most memorable night of his young career in the win over Wilkes. In the third quarter, his hustle paid off in a big way when he ran stride for stride with Ryan Fink as he sprinted towards the end zone before recovering the tailback's ensuing fumble that bounced into the end zone with 12:25 remaining in the third period. He did more damage and effectively put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter when he hauled in a well-placed fourth-down lob fromTim Pirrone near the right sideline and stretched for the corner pylon with 11:23 left to make it 38-14. It was the first multi-score game of his career.

Tracking History
Thanks to back-to-back seasons racking up more than 1,000 rushing yards as a sophomore and junior, tailback Brendon Irvingjoined former running back and current assistant coach Ben Guiles as the only LVC players to scamper for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. If Irving becomes the first player in program history to surpass the 1,000-yard mark three seasons in a row, he'll also overtake Guiles as LVC's all-time leading rusher. The senior currently ranks third all-time with 3,202 rushing yards and needs 723 more to set the program's career record.  

Noting LVC's Offense
LVC's offense bounced back in the home opener after struggling in the season-opening loss at Franklin & Marshall. The offensive line and tailbacks Brendon IrvingJon Jones, and Ryan Fink all got rolling, contributing to the squad's 369 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The Dutchmen are now averaging 22 points per game after managing just one score in the defeat at F&M. Through two games, the team is averaging 223.5 yards on the ground and 105.5 through the air. Fink is averaging 8.3 yards per carry, while quarterback Tim Pirrone is averaging 98.5 passing yards per contest. Receivers Michael Gaval and Travis Saylor lead the team with five receptions each, while tight end Dylan Berberick's 67 receiving yards are tops among Dutchmen pass catchers.

Noting LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen defense bounced back nicely after allowing 30 points in the team's opener. Linebackers Tommy Garner and Alex Trujillo, cornerback Mike Gilger, and safety Brendan Yetter each recorded an interception in the win over the Colonels, while Yetter and fellow secondary mate Spencer Moser are the team's top tacklers with nine apiece. Defensive end Guy Zimmerman leads LVC with a pair of tackles for loss, while safety Kyle Murray's two pass breakups are tops among Dutchmen. The unit is looking to continue to improve upon its 25 points-per-game allowed average.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
LVC's special teams had a return to form in week two, led by kicker Marcus Brown's first field goal of the young season (22-yarder). Nick Newton was stout as the team's kickoff specialist, averaging 54.6 yards on his seven attempts. Punter Spencer Mosercontinues to be a weapon for the unit, as does kick returner Michael Gaval. He is averaging 26 yards per return for the Dutchmen with a long of 34 yards.  

Climbing the Ranks
For the first time in the six-year history of Stevenson's football program, the Mustangs are ranked in a national poll. Stevenson, following its 2-0 start, checks in at No. 24 in this week's Top 25. In 2014, Stevenson received votes for the first time in a national poll by garnering attention in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25, while last season the Mustangs received votes in both national polls. LVC's only victory over a nationally-ranked opponent in program history came against Lycoming in 2013.

Tennessee's Big Week
Stevenson defensive back Austin Tennessee was selected as the ECAC South Defensive Player of the Week after he was named the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Defensive Player of the Week on Sunday afternoon. In a 31-26 win over the defending MAC champs from Albright, Tennessee finished with a career-high 11 tackles (eight solo), including one sack. The sack was the first in the career of the two-time First-Team All-MAC performer. For his career, Tennessee has registered 152 tackles, nine interceptions, and 23 pass breakups.

Scouting Stevenson
The Mustangs are coming off an impressive 31-26 victory over the defending MAC champs from Albright last weekend. Stevenson is ranked for the first time in program history thanks to an offense that is averaging almost 37 points per game and a defense that is surrendering just 129.5 yards on the ground per outing. Quarterback Daniel Williams has already thrown for 408 yards and five touchdowns through the early portion of the schedule, while cornerbacks Austin Tennessee and Billy Lewis have made it tough for opposing quarterbacks. Tennessee is the reigning ECAC and MAC Defensive Player of the Week, while Lewis was named to the Team of the Week following a season-opening victory over North Carolina Wesleyan. Among the special teams unit, return man Devin Salisbury earned MAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors following a stout effort in week one.

Who's Next?
The Dutchmen play their second straight road game when they travel to King's on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 24. LVC defeated the Monarchs 10-6 in a defensive struggle at Arnold Field last fall.
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