Craig Needhammer broke through the line into the second level of Lebanon Valley's defense and had a safety in his sights. From his left, he saw a blue streak flash in front of him and knew he was in the clear.
The Lycoming running back saw, as he made a small cut to his left, the blue flash was receiver John Sibel coming to take care of that pesky safety. Sixty-one yards later Needhammer crossed the goal line with the Warriors' second huge offensive play of the day that helped lead to a 21-13 win over the Flying Dutchmen.
Lycoming also got a 47-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Jenny to Jarrin Campman in the second quarter for the Warriors' first two plays of the season of over 40 yards. Lycoming, coming off a huge win over Delaware Valley a week ago, remained unbeaten in the MAC (2-0, 2-1 overall) while also handing Lebanon Valley (2-1, 1-1 MAC) its first loss of the season. Through three weeks, Lycoming is one of only four unbeaten teams in MAC play, and it has an opportunity to knock off another one next week when it travels to Albright.
Lycoming College running back Craig Needhammer looks for running room against Lebanon Valley on Saturday at David Person Field. Needhammer rushed for over 100 yards and the Warriors defeated Lebanon Valley, 21-13. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com
"I told the guys, I'm not that bright, but if we were in first place before (Saturday) and we're 1-0 (Saturday), we at least have a share of the lead," Lycoming head coach Mike Clark said with a chuckle. "We're worried about us. We're still seven weeks away (from the end of the season), so if we can just be 1-0 every week, and I know it's coachspeak, but we have a shot."
Lycoming had been far from a quick-strike offense in its first two games of the season - which included the offense failing to score a point in the season opener. The Warriors coaching staff this week saw an opportunity to maybe look for some big plays because Lebanon Valley likes to walk up its safeties toward the line of scrimmage.
So on first down at the Lebanon Valley 47-yard line on the first play of the second quarter, Campman ran a double move on the outside getting the Dutchmen defender turned around and Jenny hit him perfectly in stride for a 47-yard touchdown strike on a post pattern. It's the longest completion of Jenny's career.
Jenny came into the game averaging just 5.5 yards per pass attempt and just 9.7 yards per completion. The league average coming into Week 3 was 11.2 yards per completion and 6.4 yards per attempt.
The 47-yard strike to Campman was really the first time this year the Warriors have taken a shot at stretching the field. And the play was executed perfectly. Jenny, who was flushed from the pocket much of the day, stayed put as the pocket formed around him and he could step into the throw to hit Campman in stride.
"We haven't really talked about (stretching the field), but we do talk about when the opportunity presents itself we have to capitalize," Jenny said. "For the most part I think we did that today and Jarrin ran a great route."
"The games have been kind of weird. There's a little bit of wind, and even though it wasn't substantial today, there was still a little more wind than I'd like," Clark said of trying to hit big plays. "I thought Tyler threw the ball well early and the big one was nice. "People know now we can hold up and we can show the pass, but we still have to get better at throwing the ball downfield."
The big touchdown to Campman was the longest pass play since Jenny hit Matt Atkinson for a 34-yard gain on a broken play in the season opener against Brockport. In three games, Lycoming has just nine plays of 15 yards or more, and four of them came in Saturday's win.
Only four of those big plays have gone for 20 yards or more. Eight of those nine big plays have come on the pass. The only one that was a run was Needhammer's 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter that seemed to put a nice little bow on Lycoming's win.
"It's definitely a jump-start and right off the bat with Jarrin, it was big," said Needhammer, a sophomore from Lansdale. "It just set the tone for the rest of the game. And it's good for the offense because the longer the drive goes, the more of a chance you have to make a mistake. So a quick (touchdown) is great."
After Campman's touchdown reception, the Lycoming defense kept the momentum going when Ryan Mihoci forced a fumble and Tyler Denike recovered at the Lebanon Valley 25-yard line. Seven plays later, Parker Showers scored on a third-down run from the 1-yard line to push Lycoming's lead to 14-3 against a Dutchmen defense that had given up an average of just 14 points in the first two weeks.
Lebanon Valley quarterback Leo Kyte returned from an ankle injury he sustained in the Dutchmen's first series midway through the second quarter and provided the Dutchmen with an offensive spark by completing 4 of 4 passes for 33 yards on a 60-yard drive that was set up by a Jared Cicero interception. Kyte capped the drive with a 9-yard pass to Joey Miller for a touchdown.
But it was the last touchdown of the day for an offense that scored 30 points in a Week 1 win over Montclair State, and 47 in a Week 2 win over Misericordia.
"Gutty performance by Leo," Lebanon Valley head coach Jim Monos said. "Leo had command (Saturday), I thought."
It took just one play in the third quarter for Lycoming to put the game away, and it was another one of the big plays Clark thought was possible against Lebanon Valley's safeties. With the Dutchmen's safeties playing low, Needhammer said it becomes easier to crease the defense for a big run.
So when he took the handoff on a run over the left guard in the fourth quarter, he saw the crease which was the start of a big run. A Sibel, a sophomore receiver, sweeping in from the left side to clear out the safety, was the finish to that big run.
Lycoming's longest run of the year prior to Needhammer's had been a 13-yard keeper from Atkinson.
"I saw him, so I knew I could take the outside and that makes my job that much easier," Need- hammer said.
"We thought we might be able to pop that one, too," Clark said. "When we motion to trips, their safeties kind of bump over but they're still low and Craig can see that. Then the guy that should be in the backside 'C' or 'B' gap wasn't where he was supposed to be. We talked all week about something like that happening, and it did."
Lycoming 0 14 7 0 21
Lebanon Valley 3 7 0 3 13
1:05 - LVC - Sean Fakete 35 yd field goal
14:53 - LYCO - Jarrin Campman 47 yd pass from Tyler Jenny (Zack Czap kick)
9:31 - LYCO - Parker Showers 1 yd run (Zack Czap kick)
4:15 - LVC - Joey Miller 9 yd pass from Leo Kyte (Sean Fakete kick)
3:18 - LYCO - C. Needhammer 61 yd run (Zack Czap kick)
2:16 - LVC - Sean Fakete 28 yd field goal
FIRST DOWNS 17 21
NET YARDS RUSHING 90 207
Rushing Attempts 30 47
NET YARDS PASSING 194 168
Completions-Attempts-Int 19-33-1 15-23-1
Fumbles: Number-Lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties: Number-Yards 9-81 9-85
RUSHING: Lebanon Valley Leo Kyte 1-(-8), Brian Murphy 6-23, Darryl Sweeper 1-(-1), Pete Panichi 12-45, Conrad Heisey 1-3, Evan Fink 8-29, Team 1-(-1). Lycoming - Parker Showers 22-71 TD, Matt Atkinson 4-12, Tyler Jenny 4-26, Craig Needhammer 15-101 TD, Team 2 (-3).
PASSING: Lebanon Valley - Leo Kyte 14-26-1, 169 yards, TD, Brian Murphy 5-7-0, 25 yards. Lycoming - Tyler Jenney 15-23-1, 168 yards, TD.
RECEIVING: Lebanon Valley - Joey Miller 9-107, TD, Jake Zeigler 6-67, Pete Panichi 4-20. Lycoming: Parker Showers 1-14, Matt Atkinson 2-27, Ryan Umpleby 2-12, John Sibel 5-40, Jarrin Campman 4-74, TD, Craig Needhammer 1-1.