|GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Junior
quarterback Kyle Whitmoyer turned in a stellar performance in his
first collegiate start, rushing for 130 yards and three touchdowns
as the Gettysburg College football team defeated host Lebanon
Valley College 42-28 in the season opener for both teams and the
Bullets only non-conference game of the season Saturday afternoon
at a sunny, breezy Arnold Field.
After finishing fourth in Division III in total offense (493.1 ypg) last season, the Bullets, who piled up 488 yards of offense and 374 yards on the ground, opened the game with a 21-0 first-quarter run and never trailed after Whitmoyer’s 77-yard touchdown romp midway through the first quarter. The Flying Dutchmen answered with 21 unanswered points to pull even early in the third quarter, but the Bullets went ahead to stay shortly thereafter by scoring 14 points in 43 seconds.
Senior tailback Jamel Mutunga also turned in a big game for the Bullets, rushing for a career-high 151 yards and the go-ahead touchdown on 30 carries. He also went over 2,000 yards rushing for his career, becoming the seventh Bullet to reach the milestone.
Senior tailback Anthony DeSalva added 68 yards rushing and one touchdown to go with 40 yards receiving on four catches. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Larry DelViscio and junior safety Joe Delaney led the Bullets with 10 tackles apiece. Each player forced a fumble while Delaney put the game away with a late interception.
Senior Mike Barrett went 6-for-6 on extra points and extended his consecutive made PATs streak to 25, dating back to last season.
Ben Guiles led the Dutchmen, who finished 9-2 and won the ECAC Southwest Bowl last season, rushing for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Tim Picerno caught six passes for 112 yards for Lebanon Valley, which was penalized for 140 yards.
The win marked the Bullets first in a season opener since topping LVC 49-25 in 2007. It was also Gettysburg’s first victory at Lebanon Valley, who the Bullets have now faced in its last 10 season openers, since a 31-10 win in 2002.
Gettysburg’s defense forced five turnovers, three of which directly or indirectly led to 21 points. It was the most takeaway the Bullets recorded since making six (five interceptions, one fumble recovery) against Hampden-Sydney last season.
“Going into your first game, you don’t know what you have,” said Gettysburg head coach Barry Streeter. “You have an idea, but you don’t know. And then you’re playing a really good football team, and all you have is a scrimmage tape, where nobody’s showing anything. This game showed me more about our confidence and our approach than it did anything else.”
“I think it’s huge,” said Mutunga, of his team’s opening day win. “The last few years we started the season off really slow, and it makes it hard to keep everyone going. But we just have to take it one game at a time, starting with Hopkins in two weeks.”
Whitmoyer, who also threw for 114 yards on 11-of-16 passing, turned in a flawless first quarter, finishing with 101 yards rushing and two touchdowns while throwing for 65 yards on 5-of-5 passing.
“I think for his first time ever starting, Kyle did a really good job,” said Streeter. “He’s got really good feet. I’ve always known he was a good runner, but he has to read it based on what the defense is giving us.”
“I felt pretty good, especially running the ball. My passing can still use some work,” said Whitmoyer. “We came in with something to prove. We were picked to finish real low in the conference, and it put a chip on our shoulders. But this really gives us a boost of confidence on offense and defense.”
Whitmoyer got things rolling on the Orange & Blue’s second possession, faking a handoff to Mutunga before breaking down the right sideline untouched for 77 yards, making it 7-0 with 8:15 left in the opening quarter. Whitmoyer’s dash was the Bullets longest rush since Mutunga’s 85-yard TD run against Franklin & Marshall in 2008.
“It definitely got the butterflies out,” said Whitmoyer. “I was a little nervous coming in, but after that I was fine.”
Gettysburg then turned a pair of turnovers into 14 points on the Valley’s next two possessions. On the first play of the Flying Dutchmen’s second drive, Delaney stripped ball carrier Guiles, and junior defensive end Chris Douthett, one of seven Bullet defensive players making their first collegiate start, fell on it at the LVC-45. Six plays later, DeSalva ran it in from 2 yards out, and Barrett’s second PAT put the Bullets up 14-0 with 6:09 on the clock. Whitmoyer kick-started the drive with a 21-yard shovel pass to DeSalva before converting a third-and-10 with an 18-yard pass to Curcio, setting up the Bullets inside the 10.
Freshman Hugo Nolasco made things happen three plays into LVC’s next possession, stepping in front of a Fick pass at midfield and taking it seven yards to the Dutchman-43. Whitmoyer followed up with his second touchdown of the day, this time breaking up the middle for a 25-yard scoring scamper to push the visitor’s advantage to 21-0 with 2:32 showing in the first quarter.
Lebanon Valley received a spark from its special teams early in the second quarter, when Doug Lester blocked a Gettysburg punt, which took a fortuitous bounce and rolled out of bounds at the Bullet 1-yard line. One the next play, Blair Ransom rushed into the end zone to put the Dutchmen on the scoreboard.
Whitmoyer’s only interception led to LVC’s next touchdown on the ensuing possession. The pass was picked off by Jason Gigous, who returned it 44 yards to the Gettysburg-38. However, a Dutchman holding penalty wiped out the long return and put the ball at the LVC-9. But the Valley went on to march 91 yards on six plays before scoring on a 7-yard run from Guiles. Brittany Ryan’s point-after was no good, making it 21-13 with 9:11 left in the opening half.
The next three possessions of the half ended with punts and the Bullets carried their eight-point advantage into the locker room.
The Dutchmen received the second-half opening kickoff, and after a 38-yard return, Guiles broke loose for a 57-yard touchdown run on the Valley’s first play from scrimmage. A two-point conversion pulled the hosts even at 21-all.
After carrying the ball just eight times for 43 yards in the opening half, Mutunga carried the rushing load in the second half. He ran it seven times on the Bullets opening possession, which culminated in his lone touchdown of the day – a seven-yard dash that put his team ahead for good. He also eclipsed the 2K mark on the drive.
On Lebanon Valley’s first play on the ensuing drive, DelViscio jarred the ball loose from Guiles before junior cornerback and first-time starter Tyler Fasanella scooped it up and sprinted 45 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown as Gettysburg’s lead reached 35-21. It was the Bullets first fumble return TD since Delaney’s 65-yarder at Dickinson in 2008.
“We have a really young defense – we only have one senior who started – so I was pleased with the way we played,” said Streeter. “I feel a lot better than I did after last year’s game.”
The two teams traded touchdowns on the next two possessions in the third quarter to close out the game’s scoring. Lebanon Valley went 77 yards on 11 plays with quarterback Caleb Fick running it in from four yards out and make it 35-28 with 6:48 left in the period.
The Bullets received excellent field position on their next drive after DeSalva returned the kickoff 18 yards before the Dutchmen were hit with a 15-yard personal four penalty that set the Bullets at their own 48. Two more LVC personal foul calls aided a 52-yard scoring drive that ended in Whitmoyer’s 2-yard TD run on third-and-goal, with Barrett’s PAT setting the final score with 3:41 to go in the quarter.
Yet another first-time starter, sophomore linebacker Mark Covington, intercepted a pass two minutes into the fourth quarter. The Bullets then went to the ground and ate up 10:18 of the fourth quarter by passing it just once and running it 18 times. On the Dutchmen’s final two drives, they turned it over on downs with 4:31 to go before Delaney intercepted a pass near midfield and returned it 46 yards with 16 seconds left.
Junior linebacker Peter Hak added nine tackles for the Bullets while Cory Homer led all players with 15 stops for Lebanon Valley.