BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – The Lebanon Valley College football team is building a wall. Well, it’s more of a rebuild project.
But they’ve got the blue prints. They’ve got the workers. They’ve got the mortar.
Yesterday, the Flying Dutchmen added a brick.
On a hot Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field, Lebanon Valley registered a key early-season victory, thumping Alvernia 31-12, in the Middle Atlantic Conference opener for both squads. The Flying Dutchmen started strong and finished strong, and played disciplined and inspired football in between.
Junior quarterback Kody Kegarise accounted for all four LVC touchdowns, throwing for a pair and running for a couple more. Senior tailback Hunter Wilson toted the rock 12 times for 79 yards.
With the result, LVC improved to 1-2 on the year and 1-0 in the MAC. Last season, the Flying Dutchmen dropped their first eight games on their way to a 2-8 record.
Alvernia, now 1-2 on the year and 0-1 in the conference, is in just its second season of fielding a football progam. Last season, Lebanon Valley blasted the Golden Wolves 55-7 in Reading.
“Absolutely, I’m happy. We won a football game,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Joe Buehler. “We haven’t won a bunch of those around here lately. I would’ve liked to be a little more consistent offensively. But I loved the way our special teams and defense played.
“It’s critical,” continued Buehler. “We’re 1-0 in the league. Only half the league is 1-0. We’re where we want to be. I heard one of our guys yell, ‘It’s a brick in the wall.’ One of the things we talk about is building. Today, they (his players) put a new brick in place. That’s how we’re looking at it.”
Lebanon Valley notched the first 17 points of the contest and owned a 17-0 lead at halftime.
The Flying Dutchmen scored on their initial possession of the game to take a 7-0 advantage. A monster 10-play 89-yard march produced Kegarise’s 17-yard touchdown scamper, 6:41 in.
“He has a command of the offense,” said Buehler of Kegarise. “When he makes mistakes, he knows what he did wrong. He came off the field one time and said, ‘I should’ve ran the ball.’, before I said anything. He gets us in the right plays. It’s exciting to see him continue to grow.”
LVC scored with 48 seconds left in the opening period to up its advantage to 14-0. Following an Alvernia fumble, Kegarise hit Dylan Baxter with an eight-yard touchdown toss.
Then after a short Golden Wolves’ punt, Lebanon Valley cashed in with Nick Bentz’s 40-yard field goal, with 32 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“We definitely have done well coming out of the gates,” said Buehler. “Maybe we need to work on coming out after halftime. We made a decision to go for a fourth down in the third quarter – and didn’t make it – just trying to get our offense going. It just didn’t happen.”
Alvernia tightened the score in the middle of the third quarter, when quarterback Darrius Sample found teammate Daniel Scout with a 39-yard scoring strike. But Lebanon Valley College responded with a couple of early-fourth-quarter touchdowns that put the outcome to rest.
First, Kegarise and Patrick Clark collaborated on a 21-yard scoring completion that made it 23-6. Then, Kegarise took advantage of some more great field position, to run one in from three yards away.
“We’ve definitely improved,” said Buehler. “Our passing game has definitely improved. From F&M (the season opener) to now, we’re much better. Our first-team defense gave up six points today. We gave up (at least) 30 points in each of our first two games.
“Our pass coverage and pass rush were improved,” added Buehler. “We did well in that area. For the most part, we shut them down.”
The Flying Dutchmen defense limited Alvernia to a total of 74 passing yards. Tom Miller led the Lebanon Valley defensive charge with five solo tackles and four assists, while Anthony Jenkins recorded eight total tackles.
“Defensively, we were all over the place,” said Buehler. “Our defense made it happen.
“We were struggling to get them (the Golden Wolves) blocked,” Buehler continued. “They had a good game plan. They run well, defensively.”
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Lebanon Valley 31, Alvernia 12
|08:19||LVC – Kody Kegarise 17 yd run (Nick Bentz kick), 10 plays, 89 yards, TOP 4:30||0||7|
|00:48||LVC – Dylan Baxter 8 yd pass from Kody Kegarise (Nick Bentz kick) 3 plays, 10 yards, TOP 0:43||0||14|
|00:32||LVC – Nick Bentz 40 yd field goal 4 plays, 2 yards, TOP 1:29||0||17|
|08:29||ALVFB – D. Scott 39 yd pass from D. Sample (R. Long kick blocked) 1 plays, 39 yards, TOP 0:09||6||17|
|14:13||LVC – Patrick Clark 21 yd pass from Kody Kegarise (Nick Bentz kick) 7 plays, 0 yards, TOP 0:27||6||24|
|08:43||LVC – Kody Kegarise 3 yd run (Nick Bentz kick), 4 plays, 16 yards, TOP 1:38||6||31|
|08:32||ALVFB – M. Carey 75 yd run (R. Long kick blocked), 1 plays, 75 yards, TOP 0:11||12||31|
2019 Lebanon Valley College Football Schedule