BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – That wasn’t a monkey that the Lebanon Valley College football team extricated from its back yesterday. It was an full-blown, angry gorilla.
On Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field, the underachieving Flying Dutchmen cracked their goose egg in a big way, running over, around and through Misericordia for a 44-16 homecoming triumph. Lebanon Valley dominated from the opening whistle and into a final quarter which was contested mostly by reserves.
With LVC protecting a 14-9 margin early in the second stanza, the Flying Dutchmen recorded the game’s next 30 points to open a 44-9 bulge 1:21 into the final period. Churning out 372 yards on the ground, Lebanon Valley piled up 627 yards of total offense.
The win was the first of the fall for a Lebanon Valley College team which returned 24 seniors from last season’s Middle Atlantic Conference championship club. LVC had dropped seven straight decisions dating back to 2013.
The Flying Dutchmen are now 1-5 overall and 1-4 in the Middle Atlantic Conference, while Misericordia fell to 1-5 on the year and 1-4 in the conference.
“”I said to the guys at halftime, ‘August 13, that’s when we started. It’s been two months, and we haven’t had a win,'” said Lebanon Valley head coach Jim Monos. “We hadn’t tasted a win. It tastes pretty good now.
“We’re 1-0 (in the second half of the seaason),” added Monos. “I’m really pleased with the way our football team played. They played Dutchmen football.”
Despite playing well, the Flying Dutchmen only led by five points early. But Lebanon Valley came away with scores from three of its next four possessions to take a 31-9 lead to the break.
Palmyra product Matt Smoluk’s 22-yard field goal made it 17-9 Valley, capping an eight-play, 73-yard march. Five minutes later, Elco graduate Tyler George hauled in a 15-yard scoring strike from Brian Murphy to finish off a seven-play, 86-yard drive that pushed LVC’s lead to 15 points.
Then just 56 seconds before the intermission, Murphy scampered six yards for the touchdown that gave the Flying Dutchmen their 31-9 locker room margin.
“I thought we played at a higher level as a football team,” said Monos. “I thought our offense and defense played well together. If our offense made a mistake, the defense stepped up. If our defense made a mistake, our offense stepped up.
“I felt we were a better football team than we showed the first five games,” Monos continued. “I thought what was missing was enthusiasm and passion, and knowing how to win. Then to put them away, that’s what good football teams do.”
Just 2:02 into the contest, Lebanon Valley converted the Cougars’ fumble of the opening kickoff into a 7-0 lead. Brendon Irving did the honors with a two-yard burst.
Two possessions later, Murphy found George with a 42-yard touchdown toss, as the Flying Dutchmen opened up their advantage to 14-3.
“Playing well early was big,” said Monos. “They’re (the Cougars) the kind of football team, if you give them a taste and let them in it, they’re dangerous. Our kids played really hard. That’s the way we should be playing.
“The key was making plays,” added Monos. “We had to do that. They’re a much improved football team, and we didn’t want to give them a sniff.”
In the middle of the third quarter,the Flying Dutchmen pieced together a nine-play, 99-yard possession that ended in Billy Powanda’s three-yard touchdown run and a 37-9 margin.
Lebanon Valley’s final scoring march was also a monster – a six-play, 91-yard drive – to open the final quarter. Irving’s second short touchdown run of the day covered a single yard.
“The rule of thumb is four scores into the fourth quarter,” said Monos of the liberal substituting he did in the final period. “Once we got up four scores, we’re going to play some younger guys.
“I love the way we played an aggressive style of defense,” continued Monos. “I thought our defensive game plan was excellent.”
George enjoyed another big day, hauling in six balls for 106 yards, while on the other side of the field, fellow LVC receiver Darryl Sweeper caught two passes totaling 94 yards. Irving gashed Misericordia for 175 yards on 26 carries.
Led by Frank Gaffney’s ten tackles and two sacks, the Flying Dutchmen defense surrendered a mere 221 yards of total offense to Misericordia. Defensive teammate Brandon McMinn contributed seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
“This is a second season for us,” said Monos. “We’re putting the first five games behind us. You’ve always got to adjust your goals throughout the season. We’ve got four games to go, and we’re going to take them one at a time.”
Middle Atlantic Conference
|Middle Atlantic Conference|
|Fairleigh Dickinson – Florham||0-4||0-5|