For The Times Leader
EDWARDSVILLE – It was like Frank Gaffney knew the Wilkes’ play before it even reached the huddle.
The Lebanon Valley College junior linebacker and his defensive teammates caused absolute havoc against the Colonels’ offense.
And the Flying Dutchmen’s offense put just enough points on the scoreboard to ruin homecoming.
Gaffney sacked quarterback Taylor Young four times, while the LVC defense totaled eight sacks on the day and held Wilkes to just 153 yards of total offense en route to a 17-6 victory at Schmidt Stadium.
It was just a 10-6 ballgame late into the fourth quarter before Brian Murphy connected with tight end Nate Myers for a 20-yard score on a key third-and-4 with 3:38 remaining.
“I’m really pleased, especially in the second half,” LVC head coach Jim Monos said. “We really felt that Wilkes’ plan was perfect. It was run the football, keep us in the hole and make us go the length of the field. And we couldn’t move the ball against them. When the game was on the line, we made some things happen.”
The problem for Wilkes was easy to identify. There was almost no time for the freshman quarterback to make plays before a Flying Dutchman defender was dragging him to the artificial turf.
There were too many third-and-longs. There was almost no time to throw the ball.
And the running game was nearly non-existent, held to just 52 yards on 38 carries.
For comparison purposes, Lebanon Valley tailback Austin Hartman had 68 yards on his first carry, turning around the left side of the line, and kicking it into second gear – racing untouched down the sideline for a score just three plays into the game.
“Any time you have that amount of sacks, you attribute that to everyone,” Wilkes head coach Frank Sheptock said. “I have to do a better job, and there were little things in each area – whether it was a wrong route or a busted protection or holding the ball too long. When you give up that many sacks, it’s just not one issue. But I take the biggest responsibility because I need to do a better job of helping the quarterback understand those situations.”
The Colonels (2-3) had two golden opportunities in the second quarter, but couldn’t cash in.
Taking advantage of 30 yards in Lebanon Valley (4-1) penalties, the Colonels drove from their own 15 to the Dutchman 37. But on a third-and-13, Young rolled out and was picked off by Andrew Burkholder with 39 seconds left in the half.
Not even two plays later, though, the Wilkes’ defense gave its offense one more chance as Darrius Bookard returned the favor, intercepting Murphy and returning it 41 yards to the LVC 17.
But kicker Jordan Fredo missed the field goal wide left with no time left on the second-quarter clock.
“When you are playing experienced teams, you have to make the most of them,” Sheptock said of the second-quarter chances. “Those two missed opportunities were critical moments in this game. Even when we scored that touchdown, they immediately seized back the momentum by blocking that extra point. Every time we had a chance at a shot of life, they were able to neutralize that momentum.”
In a game that featured 15 punts, it appeared Wilkes might get one more chance late in the fourth. Down 10-6, Lebanon Valley put together a nine-play, 61-yard drive. Eight of those plays were rushes by either Hartman or fullbacks Evan Fink and Billy Powanda. On the final play, the Colonels’ defense bit on the play-action from Murphy, who found a wide-open Myers for the score.
“That was a risk factor to throw the football in that situation,” Monos said. “It may not have been the safest call. We went that far, and I wanted to get that first down. But they gave us the deep man open. We were looking for the man in the flat, but they took the flat away.”
Young finished with 101 yards passing, 48 of those to freshman receiver David Claybrook. Sophomore back Patrick Ingulli finished with just 26 yards on eight carries.
“Lebanon Valley was the No. 1 offense coming in, and we held them to 17 points. I thought we played extremely well, just not well enough to win,” Sheptock said.
Lebanon Valley 17, Wilkes 6
LVC – Austin Hartman 68 run (Sean Fakete kick), 13:33
W – Taylor Young 4 run (kick blocked), 7:44
LVC – Fakete 33-yard field goal, 13:35
LVC – Nate Myers 20 pass from Brian Murphy (Fakete kick), 3:38
RUSHING —LVC, Austin Hartman 21-139, Evan Fink 4-24, Brendan Irving 3-17, Matt Richmond 3-9, Jake Zeigler 1-8, Billy Powanda 1-5, Brian Murphy 3-3, Team 1-(minus-2), Darryl Sweeper 1-(minus-6). W, Patrick Ingulli 8-26, Calvin Garvin 8-18, PJ Incremona 4-10, Nick Dawson 1-6, Ryan Behrmann 2-6, Jonathon Conklin 1-6, David Claybrook 1-6, Austin Quiroz 2-2, Taylor Young 11-(minus-28).
PASSING —LVC, Brian Murphy 11-21-1-138. W, Taylor Young 11-26-2-101.
RECEIVING —LVC, Joey Miller 3-61, Nate Myers 2-25, Jake Zeigler 2-18, Evan Fink 2-10, Darryl Sweeper 1-17, Matt Richmond 1-7. W, David Claybrook 5-48, Jonathon Conklin 3-34, Skylar Lavage 2-12, Drew Devitt 1-7.
INTERCEPTIONS – LVC, Fernando Almonte, Andrew Burkholder. W, Darrius Bookard.
MISSED FIELD GOALS – W, Jordan Fredo (34 yards).