ANNVILLE – The foundation is solid. There’s nothing wrong with the structure.
What needs to be cleaned up is mostly cosmetic in nature. The small details.
On Thursday night, during a rare season opener under the lights of Arnold Field, the Lebanon Valley College football team did a lot of things right, but not enough to avoid a 42-37 loss to rival Franklin and Marshall. The game ended at the Franklin and Marshal seven-yard line, after the Flying Dutchmen could not finish a 13-play, 81-yard drive that began with four minutes remaining.
Two critical fourth-quarter turnovers had put LVC in a late 42-30 hole. But Brendon Irving’s ten-yard scamper to the left pylon with 8:21 to go capped a seven-play, 61-yard Flying Dutchmen possession and put them in position to emerge victorious.
“Track meets become like crap shoots, and that’s what we were in,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Jim Monos. “We had a great opportunity at the end. We were in a position to win the football game. We were playing catch-up. But we answered and went ahead.
“It was a holding call. That’s the way it goes,” continued Monos. “We thought on third down they (the Diplomats) were keeping six in the box, and that we had the sprint draw. But the penalty set us back. We thought we had the match-up we wanted on fourth down, but we didn’t get it.”
After surrendering touchdowns in Franklin and Marshall’s first two possessions – over the initial 9:50 of the season – the Flying Dutchmen rallied to take two different leads in the second half.
The first came on a spectacular Tyler Cottle 51-yard improvised pass to Lebanon High graduate Jeremy De La Cruz, 39 seconds into the third quarter that made it 27-21. The second was a 26-yard field goal from Marcus Brown-Dulan with 5:10 left in the third quarter that put Lebanon Valley ahead 30-28.
Lebanon Valley churned out 501 yards of total offense, but yielded 541.
“The thing that pleased me, we got down 14-0 and it looked like we were going to get blown out,” added Monos. “We came back. But we could never get a stop to go ahead two scores. Twice we went ahead, but each time they scored right after.”
“I care more about the team,” said De La Cruz, a sophomore who caught nine balls for 134 yards. “But I did pretty good for it being my first college game. The first thing on my mind was that I had to prove myself and make a name for myself on the college level.
“It (the 51-yard strike from Cottle) was pretty crazy,” De La Cruz added. “Earlier in the game, on the same play, I ran the wrong route. I thought to myself, ‘I’m just going to run a crisp route and do what I can’. I was surprised I caught it. The defender was right in front of me. Luckily the play was made and we scored.”
Facing its early two-touchdown deficit, Lebanon Valley got things turned around in the form of Cottle’s 28-yard touchdown toss to Elijah Johnson in the right corner of the end zone that made it 14-6. It became 14-13 when Flying Dutchmen Jon Jones ripped off a 29-yard scoring jaunt in the middle of the second period.
“This was different,” said Monos, about last season’s 0-5 start. “I was disappointed with the way we played last year. Tonight we played to win. We didn’t play well enough to win, but we can build on it.
“We lost a tough one,” Monos continued. “We open in the MAC (Middle Atlantic Conference) next week. Our goal is to win the league, and we’re 0-0 in the MAC. We have good leadership on our football team. We have good seniors. We’ll stay together.”
“At the end of the day, it was a whole bunch of mistakes,” De La Cruz continued. “But overall, it was positive. So many people made plays. Everybody did their jobs. It was a loss, but a positive loss.”
In his first collegiate start, Cottle finished 22-for-36 passing, for 266 yards and two interceptions. Irving toted the pigskin 19 times for 146 yards.
“I was really pleased with Tyler,” said Monos of his signal-caller. “It wasn’t an easy environment to be in. He made some good checks. He made some big plays.
“It (opening the season on Thursday night) worked out good,” Monos added. “We had a great atmosphere. We had a great crowd. Both teams put on a show.”
“This game was important,” said De La Cruz. “I looked at it like it was important to get the ‘W’. But going into MAC play, we’re going to do our thing.”
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FM — Magarity 19 run (Zwicharowski kick)
FM — DeStefano 29 pass from Magarity (Zwicharowski kick)
LVC — Johnson 28 pass from Cottle (kick failed)
LVC — Jones 29 run (Brown-Dulan kick)
FM — Gerald 27 run (Zwicharowski kick)
LVC — Irving 27 run (Brown-Dulan kick)
LVC — De La Cruz 51 pass from Cottle (Brown-Dulan kick)
FM — Keyes 8 pass from Magarity (Zwicharowski kick)
LVC — Brown-Dulan 26 FG
FM — Heird 36 pass from Magarity (DeStefano pass from Magarity
FM — Gerald 5 pass from Magarity (Zwicharowski kick)
LVC — Irving 10 run (Brown-Dulan kick)
Rushing — FM: Gerald 28-152, Magarity 10-57, Lewis 14-44. LVC: Irving 19-146, Jones 4-61, Cottle 4-42, Fink 3-19, Conlon 3-7.
Passing — FM: Magarity 15-23-1-212, Perri 1-1-0-36. LVC: Cottle 22-36-2 266
Receiving — FM: De Stefano 5-125, Keyes 5-58, Heird 2-47, Kolen 2-11, Gerald 2-7. LVC: De La Cruz 9-134, Saylor 5-51, Keen 3-28, Johnson 1-28, Baxter 2-13, Fink 1-7, Cechini 1-5.