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Tyler Jenny is even better in the 4th quarter

November 6, 2013 - Mitch Rupert
Tyler Jenny was in a lonely place on the bench. The rest of his Lycoming teammates were letting an energy surge course through their bodies, jumping around on the sideline of King's McCarthy Stadium.

Jenny, the Warriors' quarterback, sat solemnly on the cold metal bench behind his teammates. He rested each of his arms out to his side on the backrest of the bench, looking straight ahead. He puffed his cheeks, covered in red facial hair, and let out a sigh of relief.

The junior had just helped finish off another brilliant fourth-quarter drive which gave Lycoming a fourth-quarter lead against the Monarchs. Clutch fourth-quarter drives are nothing new, Jenny's been doing it the last five weeks.

Saturday's fourth-quarter drive was just another chapter in what has become a textbook Jenny is writing in how to maintain poise and precision in the face of adverse conditions. The Warriors' last five games have all been decided by seven points or less. In three of those games, Jenny has executed a fourth-quarter drive with Lycoming trailing which ended in a go-ahead score. And in a fourth game, he led a drive which ended in a touchdown, pushing the Warriors' lead from 3 to 10 points.

“That's exciting to watch,” Lycoming cornerback Ryan Mihoci said. “It takes about 10 years off my life. But it's nice because even when the offense struggles from time to time, when it comes to crunch time and we need points, they can take half a quarter to get down the field and put points on the board. It's fun to watch.”

In the four drives which have ended in points, there's never been a hint of panic in the offense. And there's never a hint of panic in the quarterback who has started the last 18 games for Lycoming.

As the situations become tight, Jenny becomes even better than the quarterback who has proven to be one of the best in the Middle Atlantic Conference. Even in the game against Lebanon Valley where Jenny wasn't quite able to lead the fourth-quarter comeback, he drove the Warriors as deep as the LVC 20-yard line.

One those decisive drives of the last five games, Jenny has completed 24 off 33 passes for 247 yards. Against Widener Jenny led the Warriors downfield for a 33-yard, game-winning field goal.

A week later against Delaware Valley, holding a three-point lead, Jenny and the offense ate up 7 minutes, 42 seconds of clock with a drive which ended in the first touchdown reception of Corey Talerico's career, and a 10-point lead. Against Albright, Jenny converted on 3 of 4 third downs and took up more than 9 minutes of clock as he set up Zack Czap for the game-tying field goal with 18 seconds left. Lycoming eventually won in overtime. And last week, he completed 6 of 9 passes for 73 yards, converting twice on fourth down, to lead a touchdown drive which gave Lycoming a 24-21 lead with only 46 seconds left in the game.

Honestly, there's not much more the junior can do in the fourth quarter which would better cement his legacy as a clutch player.

“He's the coolest kid I know. He's always relaxed in the huddle,” said running back Craig Needhammer, whose 1-yard touchdown run gave Lycoming the fourth-quarter lead against King's. “Sometimes we're at each others' throats, but he gets everyone together. He's unbelievable back there. He has the perfect mentality for a quarterback.”

He's a quarterback who doesn't get too high after a big touchdown drive. And he's a quarterback who doesn't get down on himself after a turnover or a missed scoring opportunity. He wreaks of control.

So even when the Warriors are facing third, or fourth and a country mile, there's always a good chance it's going to be converted. Jenny has helped the Warriors convert on 9 of 15 third downs during these five fourth-quarter drives. He's also converted on 3 of 4 fourth-down plays. And only five of those 12 conversions have been less than 7 yards.

“He never overreacts. He's always calm and never too emotional about anything,” Mihoci said. “I think that's very important for any leader on a football team. We're lucky to have him.”

Jenny's numbers during these five climactic drives are good enough on their own. But what makes them even more impressive is when compared to his career numbers. Jenny is already Lycoming's career leader in completion percentage at 62.2 percent. During these five drives he's completing 72 percent of his passes.

His 145.6 passer efficiency rating during those five drives is better than his career 138.9 efficiency rating which is third-best in school history.

After the Widener and Delaware Valley games, both victories, Lycoming head coach Mike Clark chose his words carefully, calling Jenny one of the two or three best quarterbacks in the MAC. He's point out how Delaware Valley's Aaron Wilmer, Widener's Seth Klein, Albright's T.J. Luddy and a number of other quarterbacks in the league could make claim to that title.

Saturday, after once again bringing Lycoming back from a deficit late in the fourth quarter, Clark wasn't so choosy about his words. “I think he's probably the best quarterback in the league,” Clark said. “Everyone will fight for their guy, but Tyler is our guy.”

Mitch Rupert covers Lycoming football for the Sun-Gazette. He can be reached at 326-1551, ext. 3129, or by email at mrupert@sungazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Mitch_Rupert.

 
 

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