BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – There’s this unspoken belief in athletics that claims a group of athletes will perform better if they’re more motivated. Now, not sure that this claim has any real validity, but the Lebanon Valley College football team sure did make an argument for it.
With its preseason goals at stake on a wind-swept Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field, the Flying Dutchmen came up with big play after big play and edged Lycoming 41-38 in overtime. Quarterback Tim Pirrone’s one-yard touchdown plunge capped LVC’s only possession of overtime, after the Flying Dutchmen defense had held Lycoming to a 38-yard field goal on the initial drive of the extra session.
Lebanon Valley’s OT drive was aided by a critical roughing-the-passer penalty on the Warriors, but none of it would have ever come to pass if it hadn’t been for Pirrone’s nine-yard scoring toss to Kyle Zimnik that tied the game at 35, with 25 seconds remaining in regulation. Lycoming had erased a 28-20 LVC lead with 15 points in a 1:32 span late in the fourth quarter.
Yeah, it was one of those games.
“It was a pivotal game for both teams,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Jim Monos. “We can build on what we did. It’s a great one to win, and a tough one to lose.
“We fought the whole way,” added Monos. “We never quit. We made big plays to win the game.”
Perhaps the most important aspect of the outcome was that it prevented the Flying Dutchmen from falling to a hopeless 1-4. Lebanon Valley is now 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the Middle Atlantic Conference, while the Warriors slipped to 1-4 on the year and 1-3 in the conference.
“The rule with that is go defense, so we know what we’ve got to do to win the game,” said Monos of winning the overtime toss. “Twenty-five yards to go, after the way the game had gone, that’s not far. But our defense stepped up. They bent, but didn’t break. And that penalty helped us.
“When we won the toss, we had to go defense,” Monos added. “We knew what we had to do. I kept saying, ‘There’s good things that are going to happen. We’ve just got to stay together’.”
The first play that saved the Flying Dutchmen’s season was Travis Saylor’s diving 38-yard reception of a Pirrone aerial down the right sideline, on a fourth-down-and-18 snap, with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, Pirrone hit Zimnik in the left corner of the end zone to force OT.
It was redemption for Pirrone, who 1:14 earlier had coughed up a fumble that was returned 47 yards for the Warriors’ go-ahead touchdown, after trying to make something out of nothing. Lycoming knotted the score at 28 with 3:21 left in the fourth quarter, on a nine-yard Blake Bowman touchdown jaunt and a two-point conversion.
“It was time to go down or throw it away,” said Monos of the Warriors’ go-ahead score. “He’s (Pirrone) a sophomore and he’s got to make better decisions. We’ve had that happen before. But the thing about Pirrone is that you’ve got to take the bad with the good. In the end, he made more good plays.
“You can’t get any bigger than Travis Saylor’s catch,” Monos continued. “But it was a great throw, and a great catch. Travis sold out horizontally to make that catch, and we had a little luck on the extra point. And Zimnik made a couple of great catches for us.”
Up 21-20 at the break, the Flying Dutchmen extended their advantage to eight points 3:29 into the fourth quarter, on a 19-yard, Pirrone-to-Zimnik scoring collaboration.
With 9:31 of the first half remaining, Lebanon Valley converted a fourth-and-three situation at the Lyco 23 into a Pirrone-Brendon Irving touchdown pass. On the afternoon, Pirrone threw four scoring strikes, to three different receivers.
“We’ve been playing musical chairs at quarterback for a couple of weeks,” said Monos. “We needed one to step up, and Pirrone did today. There’s no question who’s starting next week.
“We have a couple of different routes off sprint,” Monos continued. “We mixed it a little bit. That last drive we did a better job of going with the our reads.”
The Flying Dutchmen took advantage of a Lyco fumble to grab a 7-0 lead, 4:42 into the opening stanza. Pirrone hit Gary Wise from 11 yards out.
Lebanon Valley went ahead 14-7 when Ryan Fink’s one-yard burst capped a seven-play, 72-yard march, with 2:37 to go in the first quarter. But Lycoming returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for the touchdown that squared the score at 14.
“I thought we were going to run the ball better than we did,” said Monos. “But we threw the ball better.”
To go with his four touchdowns, Pirrone completed 17 of 29 passing attempts for 206 yards. Irving toted ‘the rock’ 29 times for 117 yards, his tenth consecutive 100-yard rushing game.
Lebanon Valley out gained Lycoming 385 total yards to 357. Kyle Murray paced the Flying Dutchmen defense with seven tackles.
“They’re a good football team,” said Monos of the Warriors. “They’re well-coached and physical. The last couple of years it’s been nip-and-tuck with them.”
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|38 Lebanon Valley||14||7||0||14||6||—|
LVC — Wise 11 pass from Pirrone (Brown-Dulan kick)
L — Whiteman 10 run (Flynn kick)
LVC — Fink 1 run (Brown-Dulan kick)
L — Umpleby 89 kick off return (Flynn kick)
LVC — Irving 23 pass from Pirrone (Brown-Dulan kick)
L — Umpleby 21 pass from Whiteman (kick failed)
LVC— Zimnik 19 pass from Pirrone (Brown-Dulan kick)
L — Bowman 9 run (Whiteman run)
L — Entz 47 fumble recovery (Flynn kick)
LVC — ZImnik 9 pass from Pirrone (Flynn kick)
L— Flynn 38 FG
LVC — Pirrone 1 run
Rushing — L: Bowman 17-98, Whiteman 14-82, Palmer 11-34, LVC: Irving 29-117, Fink 5-18, Pirrone 15-17, Jones 3-16, Conlon 2-11.
Passing — L: Whiteman 12-26-1-143, LVC: Pirrone 17-29-1-206
Receiving — L: Umpleby 4-55, Whalen 2-28, Costello 2-23, Dimaio 2-16, Bowman 1-18, Payne 1-3. LVC: Saylor 5-73, Zimnik 5-65, Irving 3-37, Keen 2-12, Wise 1-11, Johnson 1-8.
Middle Atlantic Conference Standings
|Fairleigh Dickinson – Florham||1-2||2-2|