Saturday, September 9, 2017

Lebanon Valley Football Shuts Out Wilkes In MAC Opener

Photo Courtesy of Lebanon Valley Sports Information
Box Score
Lebanon Valley rolled in a 36-0 thrashing of Wilkes in the team's 2017 Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) opener at WU's Schmidt Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 9.
After a rough outing against Franklin & Marshall a week ago, the Flying Dutchmen (1-1, 1-0 MAC) responded in a big way. The defense pitched a shutout and the offense racked up 354 total yards, including 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 Marcus Brown connecting on a 22-yard field goal and the defense quickly made a statement when defensive end Ryan Johnson recovered a fumble on the Colonels' first play from scrimmage.

The special teams unit got into the scoring act when a high snap sailed over the head of Wilkes punter Bobby Nye and through the back of the end zone with 3:47 left in the first quarter. Before the period was through, the visitors added another touchdown when running back Jon Jones plunged across the goal line from four yards out at the 1:41 mark. The score was set up by a 43-yard free kick return by Jeremy De La Cruz to the Wilkes' 32-yard line.

After the defense forced the Colonels (0-2, 0-1 MAC) to go three-and-out to begin the second quarter, LVC picked up where it left off in the first on the ensuing possession. Quarterback Tyler Sterner hit tight end Patrick Clark for 23 yards on the first play of the drive and bookended it with a 10-yard touchdown strike to De La Cruz.

It took just one play for Lebanon Valley to get the ball back, as linebacker Tyler Lutz made his first key play as a Dutchman, picking off Wilkes quarterback Jose Tabora and returning it all the way to the six-yard line. Two plays later, Sterner pushed the ball across the goal line from one yard out to up the LVC lead and Brown added the PAT to make it 26-0.

Later in the quarter, Brown capped an eight-play, 44 yard drive with his second field goal of the game, this time from 37 yards away, to make it 29-0 LVC heading into the break.

LVC's first possession of the second half ended with points when Sterner capped a six-play, 80-yard march by finding De La Cruz for a 55-yard touchdown strike; the team's longest scoring play of the young season.

The defense again wreaked havoc, this time midway through the third quarter, when cornerback Nick Tucker stepped in front of a pass to pull in LVC's second interception of the afternoon.

Turning Point
Following a Lebanon Valley touchdown that made it 19-0 early in the second quarter, the Colonels were desperate to get anything going. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Tyler Lutz picked off a Jose Tabora ball and returned it inside the Wilkes' 10-yard line. Tyler Sterner ran in for a touchdown two plays later and the rout was on for LVC.

Tyler Sterner, LVC run game, Tyler Lutz - LVC's quarterback had a quietly strong afternoon, finishing 8-15 through the air with a pair of touchdown passes to go along with eight rushes for 15 yards and a score. After struggling in week one, the Dutchmen rushing attack, keyed by the offensive line, came to life to the tune of 221 yards on 55 attempts. Jon Jones rushed 20 times for 67 yard and a touchdown, while Ryan Fink rushed for 6.1 yards per carry. Hunter Wilson racked up 42 yards on six touches and Paxson Hayes averaged six yards per carry. Tyler Lutz showed no freshman jitters on Saturday. Instead, the linebacker made six tackles and added an interception and 22-yard return.

Inside the Numbers
- LVC's latest win was its seventh in a row over Wilkes.
- Lebanon Valley's shutout was its first since the 2014 season. The last team to be shut out by the Dutchmen prior to Saturday? Wilkes.
- LVC has now won its last three conference openers dating back to 2015.
- The Dutchmen racked up 354 yards of total offense, compared to just 146 for Wilkes.
- Lebanon Valley picked up 20 first downs. The Colonels managed just eight.
- WU lost three fumbles and threw a pair of interceptions, while LVC didn't turn it over.
Jeremy De La Cruz had a nice day, making two catches for 65 yards, both of which resulted in touchdowns. He also returned a free kick 43 yards.
Tim Pirrone made a game-high five receptions for 36 yards.
- For the second week in a row, linebacker Tom Gallagher was the team's top tackler with seven stops.
Guy Zimmerman made five tackles, including one for loss, and added a pass breakup.
Cale Bruso forced a fumble, while Spencer MoserMike Gilger, and Austin Maguire each broke up a pass. Maguire also added a TFL.
Nick Bentz booted seven kickoffs, three of which resulted in touchbacks, and Adam Domovich had his lone punt downed at Wilkes' one-yard line.

Who's Next? 
LVC returns to the friendly confines of Arnold Field to host King's on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 16. The contest will serve as the program's annual Pink Game.

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