ANNVILLE – Even Jim Monos, the man most in tune with the program’s history, found it difficult to put a perspective on the magnitude of the outcome. And it may very well be that the full meaning of it has yet to be determined.
But here are some pretty good places to start: the Lebanon Valley College football team has very rarely enjoyed a 5-1 start, the Flying Dutchmen have very rarely been in first place this late in the season and LVC hasn’t won a Middle Atlantic Conference championship since 1969.
When one considers the 115-year history of the sport in Annville, that’s a lot of very rarelys.
On Saturday afternoon at Arnold Field, Lebanon Valley sent observers scrambling for their program record books with a 14-7 triumph over Lycoming, the 24th-ranked NCAA Division Three squad in the country. The Flying Dutchmen rode a dominating defensive effort and an opportunistic offense to one of their most important victories of all-time.
The LVC defense recorded an eye-popping ten sacks, intercepted Lycoming quarterback Tyler Jenny three times and limited the Warriors to a mere 50 yards rushing and 298 yards overall. Joey Miller’s 13-yard touchdown reception of a Brian Murphy pass with 11:04 remaining proved to be the game-winning points.
The outcome created a four-way tie atop the Middle Atlantic Conference between the Flying Dutchmen, the Warriors, Widener and Delaware Valley. LVC is now 5-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference, while Lyco slipped to 4-2 on the campaign and 4-1 in the MAC.
“I haven’t thought about that,” said Monos, Lebanon Valley’s head coach, when asked to name a more important win. “It’s a great win for this football team, and it’s a big win for our football program. I said to them (his players), ‘We expected to win, we played to win and we made plays in the fourth quarter.
“We played like champions,” Monos continued. “We need to act like champions. I told our guys, ‘You’re playing for first place.’ This was our crack. We don’t win today and we’re out of it. But it was an entire team effort.”
Trailing 7-6 early in the fourth quarter, it was LVC’s third interception of the afternoon – this one from Brian Kaspter – which produced its game-winning touchdown. On a second-and-11 snap from the Lyco 13, Murphy hit the colorful Miller in the left corner of the end zone.
Murphy followed that up with a strike to Jake Ziegler for the two-point conversion that made it 14-7.
“The defense kept us in the game and the offense took advantage of opportunities to score,” said Monos. “I expected it to be a low-scoring game, and it was.
“We’re 5-1 and he’s (Murphy) been the guy,” Monos continued. “We have a great group of receivers. We established the run at times today, but you’re not going to run consistently against Lycoming. They have a heck of a football team.”
Late in the first half, Lebanon Valley turned away the Warriors without points after they had established a first-and-goal situation at the LVC three yard line. Then with time running down, Lycoming marched to the LVC 20, before the Flying Dutchmen came up with sacks on three consecutive plays to effectively end the game.
“The defense has been great through all of these games this year,” said Monos. “It’s too early for me to say that this is one of the best defenses we’ve ever had here. But I’d like for someone to show me a better one.
“Jenny in the pocket, he can do it,” added Monos. “He’s a heck of a quarterback. Throughout the game, we were pressuring him, and we kept putting pressure on them. When we scored the touchdown (in the fourth quarter) we put the pressure back on them. We didn’t give up big plays. We kept everything in front of us. Field position and the kicking game, we knew they were going to be important.”
The Flying Dutchmen pieced together a monster drive in the middle of the second quarter to grab a 6-0 lead. The Flying Dutchmen drove 94 yards in eight plays and 3:38 to get a 20-yard TD hook-up from Murphy to Ziegler.
But Lycoming drove its first possession of the second half for the touchdown that made it 7-6.
“We’ve got four games left,” said Monos. “We’ve got an open date to get healthy and then play two in-a-row away. We’ve got to win them all to win it (the MAC championship). It’s far from over, that’s the message I want to send to the players.
“With this football team, we won’t lose that momentum,” Monos added. “We’ll be ready to play.”
Flying Dutchmen feature back Austin Hartman carried 24 times for 93 yards. Miller caught three balls for 79 yards, while teammate and Elco grad Tyler George hauled in four for 62 yards.