BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – The Lebanon Valley College football team’s goals have changed since the beginning of the season. But for the Flying Dutchmen, one goal is the same – an initial victory.
Part of LVC’s problem right now is that it has nothing to build upon.
On a warm Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field, the Flying Dutchmen were overwhelmed by nationally-ranked Delaware Valley, 52-7. The Aggies tallied the first 28 points of the game, and the final 24.
It was Lebanon Valley’s seventh straight loss to start the season. LVC is now 0-7 on the campaign and 0-5 in the Middle Atlantic Conference. The outcome was LVC’s most lopsided to date.
Delaware Valley, the 21st ranked NCAA Division Three squad in the country, improved to 6-1 on the fall and 5-0 in the conference. Delaware Valley has now won six straight meetings with Lebanon Valley and leads the all-time series 24-12.
“Every game is always a must-win,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Joe Buehler. “You want to win. That’s why there’s a scoreboard. We didn’t go into this game thinking we weren’t going to in. We were thinking we could pull an upset.
“This team has gotten better,” continued Buehler. “We just haven’t figured out how to win. That’s the most important thing. We’ve been ahead. We’ve scored first. I’m not sure it’s anything more than playing the next play.”
Lebanon Valley scored its only touchdown on the opening possession of the second half, after falling into a 28-0 halftime hole. It was not without merit or positives.
The Flying Dutchmen drove 80 yards in 10 plays and possessed the ball for 5:18. Quarterback Kody Kegarise’s 16-yard scoring strike to Zeke Wassell in the right corner of the end zone pulled LVC to within 21 points of the lead, with 9:40 left in the third quarter.
“I thought we played them pretty tough in the first half,” said Buehler. “We moved the ball into scoring position and didn’t come away with points. I thought our team battled and made some plays, especially in the first half. We have some things to grow on.
“At halftime I told our guys, ‘We’re getting the ball to start the second half, let’s go score,'” added Buehler. “And we did.”
LVC also drove the opening kickoff, 34 yards on five snaps, but misfired on a 37-yard field goal attempt.
Then late in the first quarte – and into the second – Delaware Valley scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to open a 21-0 lead. One scoring march was set up by a Flying Dutchmen fumble.
But the touchdown that seemed to take the spirit out of Lebanon Valley was the one the Aggies scored four seconds before the break. Delaware Vally needed only 28 seconds and three plays to go 69 yards and get quarterback Dashawn Dardon’s 32-yard touchdown toss to John Graham.
“They’re so tough defensively,” said Buehler of the Aggies. “We needed to come away with some points with that field goal. When a team like that plays defense and has the lead, it’s about their swagger. I think it was more about that than what we needed to do to come back.
“We have to watch tape and learn from our mistakes,” Buehler continued. “But we’ve got to focus on the positives.”
Delaware Valley answered Lebanon Valley’s touchdown with one of its own. The Aggies marched 75 yards in 11 plays and came away with Darden’s two-yard touchdown toss to Dan Allen on their ensuing possession.
Del Val also registered points on its next three possessions, including the defensive return of a Flying Dutchmen fumble that placed an exclamation point on the rout.
“We have a three-game season left,” said Buehler. “The seniors have an opportunity to go out with pride and the upperclassmen have a chance to build momentum for next year. But the best players will play. The guys who practice the best will play. It’s based on performance.”
Delaware Valley out gained Lebanon Valley 545 total yards to 318. The Aggies rolled up 304 yards on the ground.
Kegarise completed 12 of 25 pass attempts for 228 yards. But he was sacked six times and the Flying Dutchmen ground game could only muster 59 yards.
“We’ve got to improve everywhere,” said Buehler. “But the most important thing is the scoreboard. We’re going into this with the mindset, ‘Let’s try to win those three’.”
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2018 Lebanon Valley College Football Results
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@Franklin & Marshall
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Middle Atlantic Conference Standings