ANNVILLE – There were the requisite number of mistakes. But this time, Lebanon Valley College used athleticism to overcome them.
Of course, the greatest cure-all is always winning.
On a warm Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field, LVC opened their 2021 campaign with an encouraging 19-14 triumph over Franklin and Marshall. After falling behind early in the fourth quarter, the Flying Dutchmen manufactured some big plays late to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Lebanon Valley had lost its seven previous season-openers to F&M, and the Diplomats still lead the all-time series with LVC 31-9-1. Lebanon Valley College’s 2020 season was wiped away by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can’t tell you the last time we were 1-0,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Joe Buehler. “I don’t even know. These guys care about each other. They want to do well.
“But the practice between Week One and Week Two is the greatest opportunity to get better,” added Buehler. “Let’s get greedy. We’ll watch film and find a lot of things to get better at.”
The Flying Dutchmen scored the winning touchdown with 1:46 remaining, on a one-yard pass from freshman quarterback and Elco product Braden Bohannon to Lebanon Christian graduate and senior receiver Andrew Olson. The score was set up by a 31-yard passing collaboration between Bohannon and Cam Niemeyer.
“We’ve got some kids who can make big plays,” said Buehler. “You saw the things Braden did. He can throw and he can run. But he has that certain moxie to do special things.
“I’ll tell you that I saw some things that I never saw a freshman quarterback do,” Buehler continued. “He has all those intangibles. We’re going to keep getting better and he’s going to keep getting better.”
Franklin and Marshall assumed a 14-7 lead 3:49 into the final period on Keshon Farmer’s one-yard scoring plunge. The Flying Dutchmen responded with the play of the game three minutes later, when Ryan Brubaker intercepted an errant Diplomat aerial and rumbled 20 yards to paydirt.
But LVC missed the extra point, in part because of a penalty, and Franklin and Marshall still led, 14-13.
“It was awesome,” said Buehler. “All there phases of the game came through when we needed them. We made big plays. Brubaker was out there playing on one leg. He’s a heck of a leader.”
Lebanon Valley’s offense struggled early and Franklin and Marshall led 6-0 late in the second quarter. But a Grant Gaumer interception set up a 30-yard Bohannon-to-Jay Sisko touchdown toss with 45 seconds remaining in the first half, and LVC enjoyed a 7-6 margin at the break.
“Today was certainly about our defense,” said Buehler. “The game could’ve gotten away from us early. But our defense kept us in it.”
Bohannon finished the contest 12-of-29 passing for 146 yards, while he also rushed 18 times for 58 yards. Franklin and Marshall out gained Lebanon Valley 354 total yards to 219.
Brubaker led the defense with 12 tackles, while Erik Williams, another former Raider, recorded nine.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” said Buehler. “Defensively, we didn’t have to make a lot of adjustments. We just had to clean up some things. But we’ve got a group of kids who care so deeply.”
Find a way.