WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – A grinding running game that rolled up 207 yards exploded in the third quarter when sophomore Craig Needhammer (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn) bounced outside for a 61-yard touchdown to help seal the Lycoming College football team's 21-13 win over Lebanon Valley in Middle Atlantic Conference action on Saturday, Sept. 15 at David Person Field.
Needhammer crossed the 100-yard barrier for the second time in his career, as he ran 15 times for 101 yards, including the career-long 61-yard score. Senior Parker Showers (Aspers, Pa./Biglerville) added 22 carries for 71 yards, as Lycoming (2-1 overall, 2-0 MAC) controlled the ball for 34:18, helping overcome a first-quarter lead by the undefeated Flying Dutchmen (2-1 overall, 1-1 MAC).
Showers also set a school record for career kickoff return yards, as he posted two returns for 52 yards to give him 990 yards, as he passed Ricky Lanetti (2000-03), who posted 987 in his career, for the top spot in the Warrior record book.
"We're happy," head coach Mike Clark said, "but we still think we can do better. That is a good Lebanon Valley team."
The Dutchmen got on the board with the aid of a punt catching interference call to start a seven-play, 37-yard drive late in the first quarter, capping it with a 35-yard field goal from Sean Fakete.
The Warriors responded quickly, as Needhammer ripped off a nine-yard run to get the ball to the Lycoming 36 before sophomore quarterback Tyler Jenny (Coalport, Pa./Glendale) found senior Jarrin Campman (Clearfield, Pa./Clearfield) for a 17-yard completion as time expired on the first quarter.
With the first play of the second quarter, Jenny loaded up a play-action completion over the middle to Campman, who found paydirt to give Lycoming a 7-3 lead.
Three plays later, sophomore Ryan Mihoci (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional) popped the ball out of the rushing Lebanon Valley player and into the arms of junior linebacker Tyler Denike (South Boardman, Mich./Forest Area). Seven plays later, Showers found the end zone with a one-yard run to give Lycoming a 14-3 lead.
The Dutchmen closed the gap to four points by halftime, as they used an interception at the their 40-yard line and matched 60 yards on seven plays as Joey Miller made an acrobatic catch in the right corner with 4:15 left in the half.
In the second half, the Warriors sped the game up through a bruising running game, tossing the ball just six times and running it 27 times for 125 yards, helping them gain eight first downs. Meanwhile, the defense held its ground, allowing 143 yards.
Both teams started the half with long drives that netted nothing before the Warriors forced a 3-and-out thanks to a big stop by Denike on 3-and-1 from the Lebanon Valley 29, setting up a punt, which put the ball at the Lycoming 39. Needhammer responded with his run, crossing to the left side of the field and running into the end zone with four Dutchmen chasing behind.
"That was great," Needhammer said. "It really helped the momentum of the game. The line did a great job all day and that just put the icing on the cake. I saw the line and I saw the safety there and all I saw was a streak of blue come from the left (Sibel). That's awesome. I got to get to the outside after that."
After a four-play Lebanon Valley drive, the Warriors started a 14-play, 41-yard drive that ate nearly 10 minutes off the clock, but it ended with 5:11 left in the fourth quarter when junior Zack Czap (Phillipsburg, Pa./Philipsburg-Oscelola) delivered a perfect 30-yard punt that was downed at the 1-yard line.
The Dutchmen stood tall on a tough 15-play drive in response, converting on two third-down plays and one 4-and-12 in which Leo Kyte found Miller for a 44-yard completion. However, three straight incompletions at the Lycoming 11 led to Fakete hitting a 28-yard field goal to make it 21-13 with 2:16 left.
The ensuing on-sides kick went out of bounds, and Lycoming ran the ball three times, but was forced to punt again just more than a minute left after Lebanon Valley used all of its timeouts. Once again, Czap pinned the Dutchmen deep, dropping it down at the 15-yard line and a delay of game penalty pushed the Dutchmen back five more yards. On the ensuing 2-and-10, Mihoci clinched the win for the Warriors with a diving interception and the Warriors downed the ball twice to end the game.
Jenny performed well again behind center, completing 15-of-23 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once. Campman led the receiving corps with four catches for 74 yards and a touchdown and sophomore John Sibel (Morrisville, Pa./Pennsbury) added five catches for 40 yards.
Pete Panichi led the Dutchmen running game, as he posted 12 carries for 45 yards. However, they were held to just 90 yards on 30 carries, their lowest total since 2010. Kyte completed 14-of-26 passing for 169 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted and sacked once. Miller led the receiving corps with nine catches for 107 yards.
Junior Kabongo Bukasa (Sharon Hill, Pa./Academy Park) led the team with seven tackles and one for loss and the group of senior Matt Talerico (Moosic, Pa./Riverside), sophomore Tanner Troutman (Hegins, Pa./Tri-Valley) and senior Corey Schuster (Moosic, Pa./Riverside) each posted six tackles. Senior Nate Oropollo (Aldan, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) notched his fifth sack of the season and senior Roger Jayne (Harveys Lake, Pa./Lake Lehman) added two tackles for loss and a half-sack. Sophomore Kody Flail (Frackville, Pa./North Schuylkill) added three breakups and Mihoci posted three tackles, a forced fumble and a pick.
Ryan Melley led the Dutchmen with 11 tackles and David Kennedy added nine. Jared Cicero posted an interception and Jerome Duncan posted five tackles, a breakup and a blocked field goal.
The Warriors will face off with try to knock off another undefeated MAC program next week when it visits 3-0 Albright for another critical conference clash at 1 p.m.