BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – They’ve got to get better. They’ve got things to clean up.
And they’ve got to let go of the past. But that doesn’t mean they can’t learn from it.
The Lebanon Valley College football team has a long way to go. Yet there is little question that the Flying Dutchmen will get there.
On a warm, fall Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field, Lebanon Valley’s journey was made a bit longer and a little more arduous, with a 27-21 home defeat at the hands of Widener. The Pride tallied the decisive touchdown late in the final quarter, after the Flying Dutchmen had rallied from a 15-point defict to tie the score at 21 early in the fourth.
The winning score came in the form of Donte Harrell’s 14-yard touchdown reception of Widener quarterback Mitchell Vierling’s aerial. It capped a 13-play, 75-yard, 5:09 Pride possession
Of course there were the usual amount of missed opportunities and questionable calls that hurt the Flying Dutchmen’s cause. But the bottom line is that LVC is now 0-4 on the season and 0-2 in the Middle Atlantic Conference.
Widener improved to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
“This team was prepared,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Joe Buehler of his troops. “This team is committed. It wasn’t quite enough. But good things are coming. I’m proud of this bunch of guys.
“I think we’re better than our record says,” continued Buehler. “But we’re going to be judged by how good we are at the end of the season. This team is going to fight and battle to get better.”
Down two possessions and in desperate need of a spark minutes into the fourth period, the Flying Dutchmen pieced together a ten-play, 51-yard march. It ended with a two-yard quarterback sneak into the end zone by sophomore Kody Kegarise that pulled Lebanon Valley to within 21-13 of the lead.
Three minutes later, on Widener’s next possession, LVC safety Zac Adams stepped in front of an errant Pride aerial and returned it 45 yards to ‘The House’. Kegarise’s subsequent two-point run tied the score and seemed to shift all of the momentum into LVC’s corner.
That was a big spark,” said Buehler. “Zach Adams had two interceptions, a forced fumble and tackles all over the field. He’s one of the best players in this league.
“This is not a quit team,” added Buehler. “It’s a team built with great character. They have mental toughness. They’re disciplined.”
Coming off a bye week, the Flying Dutchmen went right to work.
Following an interception, Lebanon Valley drove its opening possession 68 yards in ten snaps to assume a 3-0 lead. Nick Bentz’s 30-yard field goal attempt was good.
But three snaps later, Widener’s Sean McGaughey found teammate Ryan Gallagher for 73 yards and the touchdown that gave the visitors a 7-3 advantage.
“That was my concern,” said Buehler. “Sometimes it takes a little while to get going when you’re coming off a bye. But we went up 3-0. After that, we had a breakdown in the secondary and we gave them seven points.
“It (the bye) was good for us,” Buehler continued. “We got a little healthier. We had good practices. When you have two weeks, you can really prepare for a team. That’s (Widener) a good football team. To hold them to 27 points, I think we’re gettting better on that side of the ball.”
The Pride’s lead reached 14-3, before LVC responded, just before the half. But the response was another Bentz field goal, not a touchdown.
After marching to the Widener one-yard line, the Flying Dutchmen’s seven-play, 59-yard drive stalled. The play that had set up Bentz’s 18-yard attempt was a 30-yard hook-up between Kegarise and receiver Zeke Wassell.
The intermission scoreboard read: Widener 14, Lebanon Valley 6.
“I thought we played really well,” said Buehler. “I was really pleased. We gave our quarterback time to throw. But we have to correct some things.
“When we get teams into third down right now, we’re lethal,” Buehler added. “There’s a lot of good things to be happy about. I’m really proud. But the record is still winless.”
In the final tally, Widener out gained LVC 389 total yards to 330. Of the Flying Dutchmen’s total, 267 of those yards came on the ground.
Kegraise carried 25 times for 137 yards. But through the air, he was only six-for-24 for 63 yards and three picks.
Defensively for Lebanon Valley, Tyler Hodges, Brandon Brubaker and Austin Maguire led the charge with nine tackles apiece.
“He’s super talented,” said Buehler of Kegarise, a Manheim Central product. “He has a lot of strong determination. He’s a really good athlete. They (the Pride) struggled a little with him today.
“There were some penalties. I’m anxious to see them on tape,” continued Buehler. “We’ve got to get them cleaned up. Those are things that can’t happen. Defensively, we’ve got to keep getting better and better. We want to move in that direction.”
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2018 Lebanon Valley College Football Schedule
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@Franklin & Marshall
|Sat, Sep 8||
|Sat, Sep 15||
|Sat, Sep 29||
|Sat, Oct 6||
|Sat, Oct 13||
|Sat, Oct 20||
|Sat, Oct 27||
|Sat, Nov 3||
|Sat, Nov 10||