Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lebanon Valley Football Hosts Stevenson For Homecoming Game

A Game of the Week Photo
If You Only Know Five Things
  1. Lebanon Valley is coming off a 28-20 loss at Widener two weeks ago.
  2. Saturday's contest serves as LVC's annual Homecoming Game. The Dutchmen have won eight of their last nine outings on Homecoming Weekend.
  3. LVC is coming off its bye week. The team has won five of six contests coming off the extra week of rest dating back to 2011.
  4. Saturday's game is just the seventh meeting all-time between Stevenson and the Dutchmen. The series is tied 3-3.
  5. LVC standout quarterback Dan Kelly '07 and the program's all-time winningest coach in Jim Monos will be inducted into the College's Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend.
The Series 
Saturday's game between Lebanon Valley and Stevenson is just the seventh meeting all-time ... The overall series is even at 3-3 ... Stevenson just recently added its football program beginning in 2011 ... LVC won the first three meetings between the programs, while the Mustangs have taken the last three in a row ... Stevenson was ranked No. 24 in the nation when the team defeated the Dutchmen 24-13 in Owings Mills last fall ... SU earned a 17-14 victory over LVC in 2015; the last time the two squads met at Arnold Field. 

Last Year
A lack of a passing game, a failure to convert a crucial red zone opportunity, and a pair of turnovers doomed Lebanon Valley in a 24-13 loss at No. 24 Stevenson last fall. The Dutchmen fell behind early when the Mustangs put together an impressive 96-yard opening drive that was capped off when quarterback Daniel Williams converted a 3rd and 15 by hitting wideout Preston Addo for a 30-yard touchdown. After LVC was forced to punt following its second possession, Stevenson scored again with 1:03 left in the opening quarter. The Lebanon Valley offense came to life on its next drive, as the team moved the ball from inside its own red zone all the way down to the Mustang 4-yard line. The Stevenson defense kept the Dutchmen out of the end zone with a pair of tackles for loss and LVC was forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal attempt midway through the second quarter. A bad snap kept Marcus Brown from getting his kick off, however, and the Dutchmen came away from the impressive drive with nothing to show for it. Tim Pirrone's third-down pass was tipped and picked off on LVC's first possession of the second half and the Mustangs converted the turnover into points on the ensuing drive to make it 21-0 with 8:34 left in the third quarter. The Dutchmen put together a 14-play drive after getting the ball back and this time came away with points when Pirrone sneaked across the goal line from one yard out. A consistent run game powered by Pirrone, Brendon Irving, and Jon Jones keyed the team's first scoring drive of the day. Special teams plagued LVC for the second time, however, when Brown's extra-point attempt was blocked with 1:57 remaining in the third. The Mustangs responded with a field goal drive to push the advantage to 24-6 with less than 13 minutes to play. LVC put together its third long drive of the game on the ensuing possession and Pirrone scored his second rushing touchdown on the 15th play, this time from two yards out, to draw the Dutchmen to within 24-13 with 6:47 remaining. With time against them, the Dutchmen attempted an onside kick and Tom Gallagher appeared to come down with Nick Bentz's try exactly 10 yards from where the ball was kicked. But LVC was flagged for illegal touching, the Mustangs took over, and Lebanon Valley ran out of time.

Last Time Out
Lebanon Valley kept it close but ultimately was unable to grab the lead from Widener in the team's 28-20 loss at WU's Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 30. Each time the Pride put points on the board, the Dutchmen responded with a scoring drive of their own. But every time the visitors cut the deficit to one possession, Widener answered by pushing the lead back to double digits. After LVC held the Pride on their opening drive, the home team got on the board first with a 21-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter. The Dutchmen showed the Pride they were up for the competition when they came back with a field goal following the ensuing 10-play, 43-yard drive. LVC was aided by return man Jeremy De La Cruz's 40-yard kickoff return and Marcus Brown finished it off by converting his FG attempt from 33 yards away early in the second quarter. Both defenses made stands before Widener added its second touchdown of the day with 5:13 remaining in the second quarter. Before the first half was through, however, Lebanon Valley put together an effective nine-play, 75-yard march that ended with the team's first touchdown of the day. Tyler Sterner hit Colt Baxter for a 39-yard gain and Tim Pirrone scored the first of his two TDs when he rushed across the goal line from five yards out with 33 seconds left in the second quarter. After the break, a big play resulted in another touchdown for Widener thanks to a 52-yard catch and score at the 5:57 mark of the third quarter, pushing the advantage to 21-10. A pair of big plays aided the Dutchmen on their ensuing possession, as a 28-yard run by tailback Ryan Fink got things rolling before Sterner hit Pirrone for a 23-yard touchdown to cap the eight-play drive that cut the deficit to four. The Pride turned to the run game when they got the ball back and gouged LVC with three consecutive run plays that went for 17, 14, and 17 yards, respectively. The last one went straight up the gut and into the end zone, pushing the home team's advantage back to 11 early in the fourth quarter. But the Dutchmen weren't done yet. Their most impressive drive of the afternoon came midway through the fourth when the team went 93 yards in 12 plays and used Brown's 22-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game at 28-20 with 3:34 left to play. Jon Jones' 34-yard scamper provided the spark during the series. The LVC defense had the Pride facing 3rd-and-10 on the next possession but Widener used a perfectly-timed screen pass to pick up the first down and seal the hard-fought victory.

Off the Bye
Lebanon Valley got an extra week of rest to prepare for the Mustangs as last weekend served as the team's bye week. The Dutchmen have been strong coming out of the bye in recent years, having won five of six games off the bye dating back to 2011, and six of 10 dating back to the 2007 campaign.

No Place Like Homecoming
The Dutchmen have been pretty successful during their annual Homecoming Weekend in recent years. LVC has won eight of its last nine Homecoming contests, with the program's recent eight-game Homecoming win streak that lasted from 2008 to 2015 only coming to an end with a loss to Widener last fall.

Kelly Earns Place In LVC Athletic Hall of Fame
LVC's all-time leader in passing yards, completions, and touchdown passes, Dan Kelly '07 was a two-sport star in football and baseball during his four-year career and will be inducted into the LVC Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday night. As a quarterback, he threw for a program-record 5,934 yards and 61 touchdowns for the Dutchmen. He was named Second-Team All-MAC following his senior campaign after capping his stellar career by throwing for 430 yards and five touchdowns in LVC's 55-33 victory over longtime rival Albright in 2006. Kelly also made his presence known on the diamond and was a two-time MAC Commonwealth All-Conference selection, including a first-team pick following his senior season. He is the program's career leader in triples with 14, his 151 career hits rank him second on LVC's all-time list, and his 99 runs scored are third-best all time. He was named to the MAC's All-Century Baseball Team in 2013.

All-Time Winningest Coach Earns HOF Induction
The 2013 AFCA Regional and MAC Coach of the Year, and the all-time winningest football coach in LVC history, Jim Monos headed up the Dutchmen football program for 23 years. On Friday night, he'll be inducted into the LVC Athletic Hall of Fame. He is the only coach in program history to have guided Lebanon Valley to four postseason appearances, including wins in the 2009 and 2011 ECAC Southwest Bowls, and a 2013 NCAA Tournament berth following a MAC championship-winning campaign. Monos took over as head coach in 1986 after a successful stint as offensive coordinator at Shippensburg, his alma mater. He was named the MAC Co-Coach of the year in 1989, and in 1991 and 1992, he led the Dutchmen to their first back-to-back winning seasons since the late 1970s. After serving as offensive coordinator at Division II power Bloomsburg, Monos returned to LVC in 2004, inheriting a program that won just three games in three seasons prior to his arrival. In 2009, he led the Dutchmen to a program-record nine wins before retiring from Lebanon Valley in 2015 with 109 career victories.

Homecoming Court
As is tradition, LVC will crown its Homecoming king and queen at halftime of Saturday's football game. The Homecoming court includes one football player - senior defensive back Ja'von Nelson- and eight of the other nine students are athletes. Men's soccer's Cam Avery, men's swimming's Ian Lloyd and Andrew Martz, and men's track & field's Brandon McMinn make up the rest of the men's side, while women's soccer's Teanna Shutt, women's swimming's Danielle Burns and Jessica Zeiner, and field hockey's Casey Dombroski are on the women's court, while student-body president and frequent athletics student-worker Theresa Messenger rounds out the court members. Nelson, Shutt, Avery, and Dombroski will all be in action on Saturday.

Kick to Us, If You Dare
The area in which the Dutchmen have most excelled to this point in the season has been the kick return game. As a whole, LVC leads the MAC with an average of 24.2 yards per kick return. Jeremy De La Cruz's 25.6 yards-per-return clip is good enough to rank him first in the conference, while fellow return man Tyeair Diggs also ranks top-five in the league in fourth with a 23.7 yards-per-return average. De La Cruz's longest return on the year is 43 yards, while Diggs' top effort is a 35-yard return.

Noting LVC's Offense
Lebanon Valley is averaging 298.8 yards of total offense per contest, with 160.8 of them coming on the ground and 138 of them coming in the passing game. Running backs Jon Jones and Ryan Fink have both surpassed the 200-yard rushing mark on the year, with Fink and fellow tailback Paxson Hayes having scored a team-high two rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Tyler Sterner is completing 50.5 percent of his attempts. He's thrown for 655 yards and seven touchdowns. Tim Pirrone is the team's leading wide receiver, with 177 yards and two TDs, while wideout Jeremy De La Cruz has racked up 151 receiving yards and three touchdowns. This fall, the Dutchmen have lost five fumbles and thrown a pair of picks.

Noting LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen are surrendering 26.8 points per game, as well as 363 yards of total offense to the opposition. LVC has struggled against the pass and is allowing 243 yards through the air per outing, while giving up just 120 yards on the ground per game. Linebacker Tom Gallagher's 27 tackles leads the team, while fellow linebackers Tim SchumacherTommy Garner, and Tyler Lutz have all made 20-plus stops. Defensive lineman Austin Maguire's two sacks are tops among Dutchmen, while Maguire, defensive end Guy Zimmerman, and linebacker Tyler Hodgeshave all made at least three TFL. LVC has forced seven fumbles, with Schumacher responsible for two of them, and Lutz leads the team with two interceptions. This fall, LVC has forced 14 turnovers to record an impressive plus-seven TO differential.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
The Dutchmen have the top kick return unit in the MAC, as Jeremy De La Cruz and Tyeair Diggs are both averaging more than 20 yards per return. Tim Schumacher has also been solid on punt returns, averaging more than 11 yards per attempt so far this season. Dylan Lobach has the team's lone punt block of the year, while Jacob Whitfield recorded a block of an extra-point attempt in the season opener against Franklin & Marshall. Adam Domovichhas settled nicely into the role of punter, averaging more than 35 yards per attempt on 22 total kicks, including four that have been downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Marcus Brown is 6-7 on field goal attempts so far this season, with his longest make coming from 37 yards out. Nick Bentz has looked very good on kickoff attempts, as he's averaging more than 60 yards per kick, with eight of his attempts resulting in touchbacks.

Scouting Stevenson
Stevenson is racking up nearly 34 points and 422.8 yards per game. Quarterback Dan Williams has thrown for an impressive 1,476 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with just two interceptions so far this fall. Running back Jainard Crawley-Lambert is the team's leading rusher with 184 yards on the ground. Wide receiver Preston Addo has proved quite the weapon, pulling in 28 receptions for 605 yards and seven touchdowns. Linebacker Ashton Leschke leads the team with 37 tackles, while defensive back Cory Pietrzyk leads the way with a pair of INTs. Kicker Ian Gould has been outstanding so far this year, going a perfect 22-22 on PATs and 5-6 on field goal attempts.

Stevenson Tops In the MAC
Midway through the 2017 season, the Mustangs currently have the MAC's best passing offense. SU is racking up 327.4 yards per game through the air, with a conference-high 16 passing touchdowns. On the other side of that coin, Stevenson is the best team in the league at defending opposing passing attacks. The team is allowing just 154.6 passing yards per game and has surrendered just three touchdowns through the air this fall.

Who's Next?
The Dutchmen travel to Misericordia next Saturday afternoon, Oct. 21. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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