Lycoming kicker Zack Czap stood in place on the 19-yard line watching his overtime field-goal attempt split the uprights until he was picked up by a teammate.
The senior kicker hasn't had a busy season kicking field goals this year for the Warriors, but he's been absolute money when called upon late in games.
Czap kicked a 35-yard field goal into a stifling wind with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game, and won it with a 29-yard field goal in overtime as Lycoming kept its MAC championship hopes alive with a 20-17 win over Albright at David Person Field on Saturday. The Warriors played their third consecutive game decided by seven points or less, and kept pace with Widener and Lebanon Valley for first place in the MAC.
Kicker John Czap and holder Mike Gentile celebrate Lycoming’s overtime victory vs. Albright Saturday at Person Field
Delaware Valley fell out of the four-way tie for first place in the conference with an overtime loss to King's.
The always calm and collected Czap was iced twice by Albright head coach John Marzka prior to his fourth-quarter kick, but split the uprights from the right hash. His overtime field goal came after C.J. Arhontakis blocked an Albright field-goal attempt.
Czap has kicked five field goals this year, and three have either tied the game or given Lycoming a lead in the final 3 minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.
"Every time that kid steps on the field we think it's three points for us," Lycoming linebacker Tyler Denike said. "I don't think he's let us down on the field ever."
"I kind of expected to get iced a couple times, but you can't be thinking about that back there," Czap said. "You just go back every time with the same mentality."
Czap's first field came at the end of a drive lasting 9:08 in the fourth quarter in which Lycoming converted three third downs of 9 yards or longer.
The Warriors had 10 third downs during the game of 9 yards or longer and converted on five of them - one coming on a defensive holding call. Quarterback Tyler Jenny, who was intercepted on Lycoming's first possession of the game, found Matt Atkinson for 16 yards on third-and-11. He also rushed for 12 yards on a third-and-10 call later in the drive.
Lycoming was 6 of 13 on third down yesterday, but seemed to come up with conversions when it needed it most, including the final drive.
"It's hard being in third-and-9 all the time, but we converted enough of them to stay in it," said Jenny, who completed 16 of 24 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown. "We knew what (Albright) was going to do in those situations, and (the receivers) know how to find the voids and know where to sit down and where not to sit down."
"Give them credit because they fought back when we had the lead," Marzka said. "That was not an easy drive, and making that kick into the wind is not an easy thing."
It was the third time in the last four weeks Jenny has led a fourth-quarter drive which either tied the game or got Lycoming the winning score. He nearly did the same thing two weeks ago against Lebanon Valley, but a series of holding penalties pushed Lycoming out of scoring range.
Jenny was 5 for 7 for 55 yards on the fourth-quarter drive, which tied the game.
"He's a tough kid. He's calm under pressure. And he's good at finding people with his feet," Lycoming head coach Mike Clark said. "He's a good player and I wouldn't trade him. Listen, (Albright quarterback T.J. Luddy) is good. (Aaron Wilmer) at Delaware Valley is good. (Seth Klein) at Widener is good. But our kid at our place? We're taking him. He's our guy."
Lycoming (5-2, 5-1 MAC) led 14-10 at halftime thanks to two new wrinkles in the offense which led to a 23-yard touchdown run by Jenny, and a 17-yard screen pass to Craig Needhammer for a touchdown. The Warriors carried that lead into the fourth quarter when Luddy, who hadn't done much vertical passing, found freshman receiver Vinny Williams for a 75-yard catch and run with 9:36 to go in the fourth quarter to put Albright up 17-14.
Much of Albright's (4-3, 3-3) passing success had come on quick outs or hitches for the first three quarters. But with the wind at his back, Luddy finally took a deep shot and Williams was able to get behind Warriors cornerback Matt Malecki and caught the ball in stride for his first career touchdown.
Williams had just 175 receiving yards this season coming into yesterday's game.
"That's a great throw and a great catch by a freshman," Marzka said. "To make that play in that situation We're very excited to have him for three more years because that's a huge play by him to make that catch and finish it."
"I knew they would keep taking the short yardage stuff because I didn't want to let him get behind me," Malecki said. "But on that one I was up in his face. I was miserable after that. I was very miserable. I couldn't believe it."
Malecki made up for it in overtime, though. Albright ran a very similar play with Williams, what was essentially a 30-yard fade pattern to the end zone on third down.
Malecki was even with Williams on his coverage and reached up at the last second to tip the ball away from Williams. The play forced Albright to attempt a 39-yard field goal with sophomore kicker Dan Sobolewski whose season long was 51 yards.
But kicking into the same biting wind, Sobolewski's kick came out low and was blocked by Arhontakis. After three runs from Craig Needhammer (27 carries, 109 yards), Jenny fell on the ball in the middle of the field setting up Czap's game-winning kick.
"I've never been one to think about my mistakes," said Malecki, who was converted to cornerback from wide receiver during the preseason. "I get over that stuff pretty easily."
"Like anything else, in this game you're going to make mistakes and you're going to get exposed," Clark said. "If you're going to sulk then it's not going to be good. But if you come back and play the next play, you can make a big play, and Matt did that in the red zone."
Albright 3 7 0 7 0-17
Lycoming7 7 0 3 3-20
A- Daniel Sobolewski 36 field goal 09:32
L - Tyler Jenny 23 run (Zack Czap kick) 05:36
A - Uriah Brickhouse 6 run (Daniel Sobolewski kick) 14:21
L?- Craig Needhammer 17 pass from Tyler Jenny (Zack Czap kick) 1:45
A - Vinny Williams 75 pass from TJ Luddy (Daniel Sobolewski kick) 09:36
L?- Zack Czap 35 field goal 0:18
L - Zack Czap 29 field goal
TEAM STATSA L
FIRST DOWNS 1320
PASSING YDS152 202
Att-Comp-Int 20-11-1 24-16-1
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-58 8-65
Possession Time25:45 34:15
RUSHING: Albright-Ty Hughes 17-52; TJ Luddy 11-34; Uriah Brickhouse 5-13; TEAM 1-minus 2. Lycoming-Craig Needhammer 27-109; Tyler Jenny 13-15; TEAM 1-minus 2.
PASSING: Albright-TJ Luddy 11-20-1-152. Lycoming-Tyler Jenny 16-24-1-202.
RECEIVING: Albright-Devron Clark 3-31; Eric Wade 3-25; Daniel McNair 2-17; Vinny Williams 1-75; Sean Cain 1-7; Ty Hughes 1-minus 3. Lycoming-Matt Atkinson 5-53; John Sibel 3-60; Ryan Umpleby 3-36; Craig Needhammer 3-35; Corey Talerico 1-12; Nick Mongiello 1-6.
Records:?Albright 4-3, 3-3. Lycoming 5-2. 5-1