BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – It’s really nice to win on homecoming. It’s better to gain experience when you’re winning. It sure is good to win those ‘trap’ games.
Sounds like someone is obsessed with winning.
Right now, the Lebanon Valley College football squad is basking in the glow of winning. Its latest triumph – a 51-7 shellacking of FDU-Florham – came Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field.
The Flying Dutchmen jumped out to a 30-0 lead late in the first half and were never seriously headed. After the dust had settled, LVC had posted 497 yards of total offense, scored 50 or more points for the third time this year and improved to 5-1 on the year.
LVC’s 5-1 start is its second in three season, but just the third in 32 years. The triumph was LVC’s seventh straight over FDU-Florham and gave it a 10-5 advantage in the all-time series with the Devils.
The Flying Dutchmen are now 3-1 in the Middle Atlantic Conference, while FDU-Florham fell to 0-6 on the season and 0-4 in the conference.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming into the season,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Jim Monos. “I knew there was a chemistry about this football team. We have talent and chemistry. And as we’ve continued to win, we’ve gained confidence. We’re going to be a tough out.
“This football team loves to play the game,” Monos continued. “They work hard at practice and they get excited to play on Saturday. We’re looking forward to being in the (conference) mix.”
The Flying Dutchmen needed just 1:16 to get on the board, driving 50 yards on four plays to get a two-yard dive from senior tailback Ben Guiles. On the ensuing possession, the Lebanon Valley defense got into the act, as Macke Hall gobbled up a fumble and rambled 10 yards for the score that made it 14-0.
“It was a team effort,” said Monos. “Honestly, how I feel, if we would win by one point, I’d take it. Going in, I thought we were the better team. But you’ve got to play the game. Our guys were very business-like. If we could get a bus, we’d go to Widener (next week’s showdown) right now.
“The biggest question marks coming in were the offensive line and the defensive secondary,” continued Monos. “And right now, they’re doing just fine. They’ve stepped up and improved with experience. It’s easier to gain experience when you’re winning.”
Before the opening stanza was out, Lebanon Valley upped its advantage to 20-0. A 45-yard touchdown jaunt from Guiles made him the Flying Dutchmen’s all-time leading touchdown producer.
“I don’t get tired of talking about him,” said Monos of Guiles. “I don’t get tired of having him on our side. He’s special. But there’s guys up front too.
“Ben’s a pretty modest guy,” Monos added. “I’m not sure if he even knows he did that (established the new TD mark). He’s one of our captains and when I talked to them all he talks about is winning.”
The Flyining Dutchmen’s second stanza scoring included a 31-yard field goal by Sean Fakete and a five-yard Tim Picerno touchdown reception from quarterback Colt Zarilla.
“Colt did a great job of managing the game,” said Monos. “We did a heck of a job playing a team game. We got to see a lot of different guys in the football game. I think we’re getting better and growing up a little bit.
“I’m saying to them, one thing that can happen when you build momentum you can get a false sense,” added Monos. “Performiance is what we keep talking about.”
FDU-Fordham scored on a 58-yard run with eight seconds left in the second quarter to, as Monos put it, ‘put a damper on things’ at halftime. But the Flying Dutchmen came out in the second half and scored on its first possession – a six-play, 56-yard drive that culminated with a Zarilla-to-Picerno 15-yarder.
“People talk about the trap game,” said Monos, referring to last week’s game with rival Albright and next week’s showdown at Widener. “But this team is different. We just talk about getting the job done.
“Here’s why today was big,” Monos added, “Our young guys played well and they held up their end. They didn’t back off.”
Zarilla’s third touchdown pass of the afternoon – this one to Jake Zeigler – gave Lebanon Valley a 44-7 lead. Zarilla finished 18-of-26 for 219 yards and no interceptions.
For his part, Guiles gained 148 yards on 14 rushing attempts.
“We want to win the MAC championship,” said Monos. “That’s our goal. If we do that, other things will take care of themselves. If you win the MAC championship you make the playoffs. But in order to get that championship, we’ve got to beat Widener next week.
“These guys know where we are,” Monos continued. “They know what it takes. I told them, ‘If this game was big, next week is the biggest.”