Warriors earn share of 15th MAC title, fall short of NCAAs
OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Three things needed to happen on Saturday, Nov. 16, for the Lycoming College football team to earn an NCAA Tournament automatic bid. Two of those things did happen, helping the Warriors clinch a share of their 15th Middle Atlantic Conference title. To start those things off, the Warriors posted a 36-20 win over Stevenson at Mustang Stadium.
The Warriors (7-3 overall, 7-2 MAC) finished tied at the top of the MAC standings with Lebanon Valley, who fell to Albright, 40-25, in Reading, Pa., helping the Warriors claim a piece of the 15th MAC title. However, the Dutchmen earned the automatic bid to do to a head-to-head tiebreaker, as LVC beat Lycoming, 14-7, on Oct. 12.
Lycoming fell short of earning the bid because Delaware Valley upended Widener, 50-28, creating a four-way tie for third in the league. If Widener had won to finish 7-2 in the league, Lycoming would have earned the NCAA Tournament bid based on the three-way tiebreaker.
Junior Craig Needhammer (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn) highlighted the day for the Warriors, as he rushed 41 times for 162 yards and a touchdown, caught one pass for 17 yards and a score and also had 65 yards of return yardage for 244 all-purpose yards. Along the way, he tied the school-record for touchdowns in a season with 14, tying marks set by Tim Deasey (2001) and Brian Thompson (1998). He also finished the season with 1,184 rushing yards, good for fifth in program history, and 1,539 all-purpose yards, fourth in program annals.
A pair of first quarter touchdowns helped put Lycoming in control, as Needhammer scored on rush with 12:51 left after a botched punt was recovered at the one-yard line. He added another score on Lycoming's next possession, as they took over at the 40-yard line and moved methodically down the field before getting a 17-yard pass from junior quarterback Tyler Jenny (Coalport, Pa./Glendale).
Stevenson answered with 4:07 left in the first half, as Zach Jefferson found Neil Harps for a 63-yard bomb, but Lycoming responded when senior C.J. Arhontakis (Avon Grove, Pa./Spring Grove) blocked his third extra point of the season and junior Tanner Troutman (Hegins, Pa./Tri-Valley) brought it back for the defensive two points.
Stevenson's first drive of the second quarter ate 11 plays and 80 yards before Jefferson found Cortez Taylor for a 24-yard score, helping Stevenson (4-6 overall, 3-6 MAC) cut the lead to 15-13. Lycoming responded with a five-play touchdown drive that ran 68 yards. Jenny found Atkinson three times on the drive, once for 21 yards, once for 27 and finally for a six-yard touchdown.
Stevenson answered in four plays, with Jefferson finding Jeromie Miller three times, the last time for 24 yards and a score with 1:19 left.
Lycoming took control of the game in the third quarter, running seven minutes off the clock to start the half on a 13-play, 68-yard drive before Jenny scored on a bootleg. After a three-and-out by the Mustangs, the Warriors drove 52 yards on eight plays before Jenny found junior fullback Nick Mongiello (East Windsor, N.J./Hightstown) for a 12-yard score on a short screen.
After that, the Warriors got a fourth-down stop after Stevenson had driven down to the Lycoming 16. Troutman ended a pair more Stevenson drives in the fourth quarter with interceptions, keeping Stevenson from seriously threatening again.
Jenny finished 17-of-23 for 207 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Atkinson caught seven passes for 91 yards and a touchdown and junior John Sibel (Morrisville, Pa./Pennsbury) caught three passes for 30 yards.
Jefferson finished 15-of-26 for 283 yards and three touchdowns, but he was intercepted four times. Harps caught five passes for 138 yards and one touchdown and Miller added four catches for 77 yards and a score. Jefferson led the Mustang rushing attack with 29 yards and Marcus Holley also added eight carries for 29 yards, but the Mustang ground game, which came into the game averaging 169.0 yards on the ground, finished with just 46 yards on 23 attempts.
Troutman led the Warrior defense with a school-record tying three interceptions, two tackles and the defensive extra point, as he became the first Warrior to post three picks in a game since Fred Bordley did it against Susquehanna on Sept. 15, 2007.
Senior Kabongo Bukasa (Sharon Hill, Pa./Academy Park) led the Warriors with eight tackles and both junior Kyle Sullivan (Coatesville, Pa./Bishop Shanahan) and sophomore Brian Campbell (Drums, Pa./Hazleton Area) added seven stops. Sullivan forced a fumble and sophomore Matt Malecki (Stevensville, Md./Kent Island) recovered it. Junior Ryan Mihoci (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional) also had an interception.
Shane Clough led the Mustangs with 11 tackles and both Donnell Brown and Byron Barnes added 10. Scott Lange posted four tackles and a sack and Tre'Von Wilks posted six stops and a pick.