WILLIAMSPORT (PA) – Freshman quarterback Aaron Wilmer scored on an eight-yard touchdown run with just 13 seconds remaining to lift No. 12 Delaware Valley College to a 28-21 triumph at regionally-ranked Lycoming College and at least a share of its fourth consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship.
With the win, Delaware Valley improved to 9-0 overall and 7-0 in conference action. It also became just the fifth team in MAC history to win four or more conference titles in a row, joining Widener University (6 from 1997 to 1982), Franklin & Marshall College 4 from 1971 to 1974) and a pair of Lycoming College eras (4 from 1989 to 1992 and 4 from 1996 to 1999).
And it sets up a winner-take-all contest for the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs as the Aggies will host regionally-ranked Widener (8-1, 7-1) next Saturday, November 12 (1:00 p.m.). The Pride upset Delaware Valley on the last play of the game last season and took the Keystone Cup (handed out annually to the winner of the Delaware Valley-Widener game) back to Chester. Much more is at stake next week as the Aggies want to avoid leaving their NCAA hopes up to the committee that selects the six at-large berths.
Wilmer helped give Delaware Valley a 21-14 lead with 5:56 remaining as he hit Lewis Vincent for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Lycoming's (7-2, 5-2 MAC) ensuing possession began at its own 32 and the Warriors needed just 10 plays to move the ball all the way down to the Aggie three-yard line. Craig Needhammer netted two yards on first down and quarterback Zach Klinger snuck it in from there with 1:01 remaining. Zach Czap hit the all-important extra-point to make it 21-21.
A low kickoff was caught in the air by upback Chad Wisniewski and he returned it eight yards to the Delaware Valley 46-yard line with 58 seconds to go. Wilmer hit Rodney Blango for 16 yards and out of bounds at the Warrior 38. Following a near interception, Wilmer kept the ball for a run but did not gain a yard as the Aggies called timeout with 41 ticks on the clock.
On third down, Wilmer found Blango over the middle for 15 yards and he then hit Vincent down the right sideline for another 15 yards down to the eight-yard line. Wilmer then called his own number and went up the middle, stretching for the final yard into the end zone with 13 seconds to go. Sobchak made it 28-21 with his fourth extra-point of the game.
Lycoming tried three laterals on the ensuing kickoff, but Delaware Valley's Chris Vega was there to grab the final one – technically, a fumble recovery - as the final seconds ticked off the clock and the Aggie sideline rushed on the field to celebrate the MAC championship
Delaware Valley opened the scoring with a nine-play, 93-yard drive on its opening possession. Wilmer connected for throws of 45 yards to Chris Ruiz and 18 yards to fullback Tom Devlin on the drive, and capped it on a third-and-10 as his fade pass into the left corner of the end zone was grabbed by Vincent for the 16-yard touchdown.. Sobchak booted the extra-point to complete the nine-play, 93-yard drive and a 7-0 advantage with 7:09 left in the opening quarter.
The Warriors responded off the ensuing kickoff by going 64 yards on eight plays. The final 16 yards came on a Zach Klinger bullet to Warren Oliver in the end zone. Zack Czap's boot tied the game at 7-7 with 3:52 to go in the first.
The game then took on the defensive feel that was expected. Delaware Valley was stopped and Lycoming took over on its own 17-yard line following a punt. The Aggies then forced the Warriors back thanks to a sack by Jim DiLisio and, after a punt, took over on the Warriors 38-yard line. However, Delaware Valley lost one yard over three plays and its punt was fair caught at the 15.
The Aggies forced the first turnover of the game as Vega, getting his first start at cornerback, intercepted a Klinger pass at the Delaware Valley 43-yard line. A pair of third-down conversions on passes from Wilmer kept the drive going. They then faced a fourth-and-one from the 21 when Kyle Schuberth got the carry and went untouched into the end zone. It was a 10-play, 57-yard drive and Sobchak's point-after gave Delaware Valley a 14-7 advantage with 5:49 left in the first half.
Late in the half, the Aggies had a golden opportunity as Dwayne Shaw forced a fumble and Ken Fowlkes recovered at the Warrior 43. However, Delaware Valley turned the ball over on downs and the half ended with the Aggies on top by seven.
Delaware Valley received the opening kick of the second half, but, on the first play from scrimmage, a Wilmer pass bounced out of the receiver's hands and Lycoming's Ray Bierbach dove and intercepted it at midfield. The Warriors' Matt Atkinson rushed for a pair of first downs out of the wildcat formation, the last moving the ball to the Aggie 11. However, the next play saw Klinger throw a pass into the end zone and Vega picked it off to end the threat.
Later in the third, Delaware Valley started possessions at the Lycoming 33 and 44-yard lines, but could not put any points on the board to extend its lead. The second drive stalled at the 27 and Lycoming quickly moved into Aggie territory and eventually reached the two-yard line for a second-and-goal. On the next play, safety Ryan McCullough broke through and stuffed tailback Parker Showers for a five-yard loss. An offsides penalty moved the ball to the three and Klinger hit Atkinson over the middle for the touchdown. Czap added the extra-point for a 14-14 ballgame with 11:34 remaining in regulation.
Delaware Valley began its next drive on its own 13-yard line. Twice the Aggies faced third-and-long and both times Wilmer hit Blango for big plays to move the sticks. Later in the drive, Bierbach made another diving interception, this one at the Lycoming 27-yard line. The Aggie defense held to force a punt and the offense took over at midfield with 6:48 on the clock.
Wilmer and Blango teamed again for a long pass, but Blango was ruled to have stepped out of bounds and returned to the field to make the catch. The loss of down brought a third-and-10 and Wilmer went for the long ball to Vincent. Vincent caught it at the 15-yard line, broke away from a tackler and went into the end zone for a 50-yard score. Sobchak's extra-point made it 21-14 with 5:56 remaining.
Lycoming tied it from there but left 61 seconds left on the clock. That was plenty of time for Wilmer's heroics and the thrilling victory.
Wilmer completed 17 of 34 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 23 yards and the game-winning score. Blango caught seven passes for 89 yards while Vincent finished with three catches for 81 yards and two trips to the end zone. Schuberth netted 73 yards and a score on 14 carries. Defensively, Fowlkes, McCullough and Terrance Osborne had 10 tackles apiece. Vega added two tackles to his two interceptions and fumble recovery.
Klinger finished 15-for-28 for 123 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Atkinson rushed for 90 yards on 11 carries and caught five passes for an additional 35 yards and a touchdown. Chris Kish notched a game-high 11 tackles.