ANNVILLE – Confidence has turned into doubt. Hope has turned into despair. Pride has turned into concern. Prosperity has turned into poverty.
Winning has turned into losing.
On Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field, the Lebanon Valley College football team dropped its fourth straight decision to start the season – and sixth overall dating back to last year- falling to Delaware Valley, 59-41. After falling behind 14-0 in the opening quarter, the Flying Dutchmen could never make it up, thanks in part to a defense which yielded 584 total yards, 383 of which came through the air.
While Lebanon Valley has now been outscored by a combined 152-79 this season, there is a certain air of surprise and disbelief surrounding its start. The six straight defeats come on the heels of perhaps the most prosperous period in the program’s 118-year history.
It would seem that the reigning Middle Atlantic Conference champions, which slipped to 0-4 overall and 0-3 in the conference, are in serious doubt of having their string of six consecutive winning campaigns snapped. The Flying Dutchmen graduated 22 seniors from a club which qualified for its first NCAA Division Three playoff appearance in program history, but rostered 24 seniors at the beginning of the year.
“I’m disappointed,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Jim Mons. “I thought we had a better football team. But we haven’t performed. We just haven’t played up to our capabilities. There are no more excuses.
“I’d be disappointed if they (his players) weren’t disappointed,” continued Monos. “They’ve got to stay with us. We’ve got to stay together. We can’t start pointing fingers, one way or another. That’s a concern.”
After trailing by as much as 21-6 and 28-13, the Flying Dutchmen got to within a point of the Aggies late in the second quarter. LVC parlayed a fumble recovery into a pair of Brian Murphy touchdown tosses in a span of 47 seconds.
First, Murphy hit Daryl Sweepr for a 41-yard score. Then he found former Elco star Tyler George for a 12-yard touchdown that made it 28-27.
But Lebanon Valley’s prosperity was short-lived, as the Aggies tallied a pair of TDs in the final 2:17 of the half, the second with 1:06 showing on the second-quarter clock, to take a 42-27 margin to the locker room.
“Even when we got to within one, we couldn’t get ahead,” said Monos. “They (the Aggies) got the next score. That took the wind out of our sails. We did some good things. I’ll take the effort and build on that. But that’s not easy to do, build on 0-4.
“Some of that is disappointing,” Monos continued. “We’re asking our defense to defend half the field. We haven’t done well defensively. We’re last in the league in (allowing) third-down conversions. Penalties were crushing. That really hurt.”
Delaware Valley upped its advantage to 49-27, 5:36 into the second half, after turning a seven-play, 66-yard march into quarterback Aaron Wilmer and receiver Rasheed Bailey’s fourth touchdown collaboration of the contest.
The Flying Dutchmen responded with a 15-play, 71-yard march which produced Billy Powanda’s one-yard plunge, and Brendon Irving’s ten-yard touchdown scamper on the first snap of the fourth quarter. But 49-41 would be as close as LVC would come.
“I’m disappointed we lost,” said Monos. “But I’m happy how our football team played. We played to win. We actually had our opportunities and cut it to one. It was the kind of game where we had to get a score every time we had the football.
“I just feel like the football team is coming, but it’s happening slowly,” continued Monos. “(Coming into Satruday) three of our first four opponents are undefeated. We played to win today. I feel like we’re making progress.”
“Our goal was to win the first game, and to win the second game,” said Monos. “No, they (the goals) haven’t changed. Our goal is to win the next game. There is no question that we have created some hurdles for ourselves.
“We can’t back off,” added Monos. “Where we are is 0-4, and that stinks. But we have got to stay together. We have some really good football players.”
Sweeper caught eight of those balls for 150 yards and two scores. George hauled in seven aerials for 69 yards.
“We need to make some plays,” said Monos. “We did run the ball better. That’s something we didn’t do all year.
“The schedule will get lighter in that ‘lighter’ means we’re at the bottom of the league,” Monos added. “There’s no one above us. There’s no reason for us to take anyone lightly.”
|Delaware Valley||14||28||7||10||– 59|
|Lebanon Valley||6||21||7||7||– 41|
1st12:34DELVAL – Rasheed Bailey 23 yd pass from Aaron Wilmer (Brandon Snyder kick) 6 plays, 59 yards, TOP 2:26, 7-0
2nd04:24LVC – Tyler George 12 yd pass from Brian Murphy (Matthew Smoluk kick) 3 plays, 36 yards, TOP 0:47, 28-27
4th08:31DELVAL – Brandon Snyder 38 yd field goal 7 plays, 39 yards, TOP 3:19, 52-41
|Middle Atlantic Conference|
|Fairleigh Dickinson – Florham||0-2||0-3|