Story and photo courtesy of Lebanon Valley Athletics
OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Lebanon Valley held off Stevenson in a thriller, getting a fourth-quarter defensive touchdown from Zach Halpin and withstanding a late hook-and-ladder score to win 31-28.
The Dutchmen (3-1, 2-1 CC) ran wild on the ground, racking up 293 yards rushing led by Pete Panichi's 105 yards and Evan Fink's pair of touchdowns.
It was Halpin, however, that sealed the game; up 24-21 and with Stevenson having a chance to go ahead in the fourth quarter, Halpin corraled John Gasparovic's pass and went nine yards to score, giving LVC a comfortable 10-point lead.
Sophomore quarterback Brian Murphy made his first career start as senior Leo Kyte was held out as a game-time decision. Murphy was 5-for-10 for 64 yards passing, and ran eight times for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Stevenson was led by K.K. Smith, who ran for 108 yards and a touchdown and scored a last-ditch 78-yard lateral touchdown. Gasparovic came in for the second half and went 13-for-17 for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
"They're a good football team, they're going to beat some people this year," said head coach Jim Monos. "I told our kids that this was a good win for us because we came into a hostile environment, we think we're pretty good, and they do too. We had to play today."
Fink put LVC on the board midway through the first quarter, but Anthony Reid ended a quick drive with a 20-yard run to tie it. Murphy ran 16 yards to put LVC ahead to begin the second, and Sean Fakete nailed a 28-yard field goal to give LVC a 17-7 halftime lead.
Stevenson kept pace in the second half as Smith finished with a one-yard plunge to cut LVC's lead to 17-13, but Fink barreled in for his second later in the third quarter. Jarrett Bragg caught a five-yarder from Gaparovic to start the fourth quarter, and the two-point conversion made it 24-21 before Halpin's pick-six gave LVC the cushion.
"That was a big play for us - that's an understatement," Monos said. "That put us back to two scores, and two scores up is a good feeling in the fourth quarter."
"I saw the screen and read it, and I got in - barely, but I got in," Halpin said.
The Mustangs made a last-gasp stand, getting the ball back with 49 seconds left and immediately connecting on the hook-and-ladder play, with Travis Douglas dishing off to Smith for a 76-yard score. The onside kick appeared to be recovered by SU, but the hosts were flagged for touching the ball early, and LVC kneeled out the win.
Lebanon Valley returns home next Saturday to host Widener at 1 p.m.