Saturday, September 3, 2016

Lebanon Valley Football - Offense Stifled In Football's Season-Opening Loss at F&M

Photo Courtesy of Lebanon Valle Athletics
How It Happened
Franklin & Marshall held Lebanon Valley to just 205 yards of total offense in the Flying Dutchmen's 30-6 season-opening loss at F&M's Sponaugle-Williamson Field on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 3.

The Diplomats (1-0) got on the board first when running back Taalib Gerald capped a 10-play, 52-yard opening drive with a touchdown run from one yard at the 7:55 mark of the first quarter. F&M kicker Billy Zwicharowski missed the PAT.

LVC's offense broke through early in the second quarter when quarterback Tim Pirrone rolled out to the right, tucked the ball, and dove across the goal line to score the team's first points of 2016. The junior's touchdown scamper capped a 6-play, 69-yard drive keyed by Pirrone's 46-yard pass to tight end Dylan Berberick on the possession's first play. Like his F&M counterpart, kicker Marcus Brown was unable to connect on the extra point.

The Dutchmen defense clamped down heading into halftime, allowing nothing more than a field goal before the break. Trailing 9-6 late in the half, Adam Wagaman and Guy Zimmerman met quarterback Tanner Erisman in the backfield. The sack came as the second quarter expired, keeping the deficit a manageable three points.

It was all F&M in the second half as Gerald's 40-yard run to open the third quarter led to another Diplomat touchdown. LVC returner Michael Gaval twice gave his team great starting field position on kickoffs but the Dutchmen were unable to convert on either possession.

The Dips turned an LVC fumble into points when Erisman hit wide receiver Bobby Keyes for a 29-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to increase the lead to 23-6. F&M put it out of reach on the team's next possession when Gerald broke a third-down run up the middle and scampered 28 yards to pay dirt to make it 30-6 with 11:54 left to play.

Turning Point
After a pair of great defensive plays by Nick Tucker and Tim Schumacher forced an F&M punt, the LVC offense got the ball back late in the third quarter. Two plays into the drive however, the Dutchmen attempted a reverse that was fumbled and recovered by the Dips. On the next play, F&M quarterback Tanner Erisman hit wide receiver Bobby Keyes for a 29-yard touchdown to put the Dutchmen in a 23-6 hole from which they were unable to climb out.

Inside the Numbers
- Saturday's contest was the first for Joe Buehler '89 as LVC head coach after taking over the program following the retirement of longtime head coach Jim Monos.
- The Dips outgained Lebanon Valley 352-205 in total offense.
- Turnovers and penalties hurt the Dutchmen. LVC turned it over twice and committed eight penalties for 72 yards. By comparison, F&M didn't turn the ball over and committed just three penalties.
- LVC's typically potent running game was held to just 78 yards rushing by the Diplomat defense.
- The Dutchmen defense racked up three sacks on the day, including one each by Zachary AdamsTim Schumacher, and Guy Zimmerman.
- Adams made a game-high seven tackles for Lebanon Valley, all of which were solo stops.
Michael Gaval had a good day in the return game. He returned a pair of kickoffs for 56 yards, averaging 28 yards per return.
- Taalib Gerald gave the LVC defense trouble as the running back rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He averaged 7.1 yards per attempt.
- LVC has dropped its last three season openers, all at the hands of F&M.

Who's Next? 
LVC returns to the friendly confines of Arnold Field for the team's home opener on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10. The Dutchmen open MAC play against Wilkes at 1 p.m.
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