Costello’s TD catch secures Lyco’s win

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Lycoming's Blake Bowman (33) sprints for the goal with Lebanon Valley's Jakob Krebelj (14) and Brendan Yetter (3) and Hunter McGuire (99) close behind for a touchdown in the second quarter.

As the football hurtled toward him, Lycoming receiver Nick Costello knew it had to end up in his hands. There was no other option, not if the Warriors wanted to finish off Saturday’s comeback against Lebanon Valley.

At 6-foot-5, Costello knew there was no way Lebanon Valley cornerback Cody Davis should beat him to the high point of the ball at 5-foot-10. So when the ball got in their radius, Costello jumped. Davis never turned to see the ball, so all he could do was throw up his left arm between Costello’s two hands in a desperate attempt to keep him from catching the ball.

Costello put a vice grip on the ball with both hands, landed on his feet as Davis fell to the David Person Field turf, and looked down to make sure he stayed in bounds. Costello tight-roped down the sideline to finish off the 34-yard touchdown catch.

The remarkable catch with 1 minute, 25 seconds left gave Lycoming a 27-24 come-from-behind win over Lebanon Valley on the day it honored legendary coach Frank Girardi for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Warriors snapped a two-game losing streak with the win.

“I’m just relieved,” said Lycoming head coach Mike Clark, whose team lost its previous two games by a combined six points. “Our kids deserved it. We talk about fighting and battling and they lived up to that. They deserve to feel the way they feel right now.”

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Lycmong College's Aaron Davis (12) and Levi Meyers (76) celebrate after Davis's second quarter touchdown.

Lycoming won Saturday’s game despite giving away a 21-point, first-half lead. It won the game because quarterback Chase Whiteman engineered his third career fourth-quarter, game-winning drive. He also recovered a Dante Gipson fumble on that scoring drive which nearly halted the comeback before it ever got going.

Lycoming won the game because running back Blake Bowman powered through an ankle injury to rush for 93 yards on seven carries, including a first-half 57-yard touchdown run. And Lycoming won the game because Costello didn’t miss that last-minute pass from Whiteman in the fourth-quarter when he knew he couldn’t be beaten to the ball.

“It had to be done. There was no other option,” said Costello, who finished 96 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. “That ball needs to be mine. When coach Clark gives me the opportunity to make a play like that on a corner of that size, you have to make the play.”

Whiteman was given the option of two plays he wanted to run in a huddle during a timeout just before the winning play. He chose the one which had Costello running a post-corner route on the outside. But Costello had to make an adjustment on the route because of Lebanon Valley’s coverage.

Costello then had to flatten out the corner route because Davis had good leverage at the top of the route. Whiteman stepped up in the pocket to avoid Lebanon Valley’s rush and delivered a football which Davis never saw and which Costello wasn’t going to be denied of.

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette

“I want to see it on film, but I think that was a pretty impressive touchdown play,” Clark said. “A lot of smart coaches in tough spots have said think players and not plays. Look, he’s really good. That kid, for a sophomore, he’s still got a lot of growing to do, but he’s hard to cover.”

“I thought we had good coverage and (Costello) just made one heck of a play,” Lebanon Valley head coach Joe Buehler said. “When you’re green like (Davis) is, you’re just trying to stay with whoever you’re supposed to stay with. And even toward the end he turned and tried to fight for it. But (Costello) is a big, tough receiver and he wanted that ball and got it.”

Costello’s touchdown saved the Warriors from having to explain another tough loss after Lebanon Valley scored 24 consecutive points over the final three quarters. After back-to-back losses by three points, one in four overtimes, the Warriors were staring at a third in a row when Flying Dutchmen backup quarterback Tyler Sterner threw his second touchdown pass to Michael Gaval with 4:37 left in the game.

Sterner relieved starter Tim Pirrone in the first half after Pirrone completed just one of his first nine passes, including an interception. It was a stark contrast to last year’s game between the two teams when Pirrone completed 17 of 29 passes for 206 yards and four touchdowns in a Lebanon Valley overtime win.

Sterner provided to a Dutchmen offense which is the second-best rushing team in the Middle Atlantic Conference. They still ran for better than 4 yards a rush yesterday, but Sterner completed 11 of 19 passes for 119 yards and the two touchdowns to Gaval. His only mistake was a last-play interception by Lycoming’s Joe Pinzka.

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Lycoming's Jonathan Zedar (18) hits Lebanon Valley's Travis Saylor (84) breaking up the pass in the second quarter.

But what Sterner provided was more field the Lycoming defense had to concern itself with. The Dutchmen averaged more than a yard per play more in the second half than it did in the first half. It allowed them to generate drives of 47, 69 and 75 yards to score a pair of touchdowns and a field goal, which turned a 21-7 deficit into a 24-21 lead.

“I think once Lycoming saw we could throw it with some effectiveness, it surely helped,” Buehler said. “We feel pretty strongly that we can run the football. Hopefully we can build on this passing game for next week.”

“In the first half we definitely felt like we played well. We stopped the run and they weren’t really getting anything from the pass either,” said Lycoming defensive lineman Sam Romanofsky, who had a career-high 8 tackles. “They’re a really good running team and their backs are really shifty. That was our main concern.”

Lycoming had just 31 second-half offensive yards before putting together the eight-play, 75-yard drive which won the game. But that didn’t matter after Costello scored. It didn’t matter that the Warriors squandered that 21-point lead. Because when Costello waltzed into the end zone, there was no needing to explain why everything didn’t go perfectly.

Winning affords that luxury.

“We needed it real bad, especially on a day like this for coach Girardi,” Costello said. “And with so many alums here, it looks good to come out with a win.”


Lycoming 27,

Lebanon Valley 24

Lebanon Valley    0 7 7 10 — 24

Lycoming    7 14 0 6 — 24

First quarter

Lyco–Nick Costello 9 pass from Chase Whiteman (Devon Flynn kick), 6:09.

Second quarter

Lyco–Keeghan Morrison 12 pass from Collin Wright (Flynn kick), 12:14.

Lyco–Blake Bowman 57 run (Flynn kick), 9:21.

LVC–Jon Jones 4 run (Marcus Brown kick), 0:28.

Third quarter

LVC–Michale Gaval 30 pass from Tyler STerner (Brown kick), 7:11.

Fourth quarter

LVC–Brown 28 field goal, 12:05.

LVC–Gaval 9 pass from Sterner (Brown kick), 4:37.

Lyco–Costello 34 pass from Whiteman (kick failed), 1:25.


LVC    Lyco

First downs    19    14

Rushes-yards    50-220    35-145

C-A-I    12-28-2    13-20-0

Pasing yards    127    153

Total offense    78-347    55-298

Punts-avg.    7-30.0    7-33.9

Fumbles-lost    0-0    3-1

Penalties-yards    10-85    5-55

Possession time    32:39    27:21


RUSHING–Lebanon Valley, Brendon Irving 20-105; Jon Jones 10-50; Ryan FInk 7-24; Tim Pirrone 4-15; Tyler Sterner 4-10; Steve Salerno 3-8; Evan Lyzczek 2-8. Lycoming, Blake Bowman 7-93; Dante Gipson 13-35; Brock Zollicoffer 3-20; Chase Whiteman 8-13; Team 2-(-4); Collin Wright 2-(-12).

PASSING–Lebanon Valley, Tyler Sterner 11-19-1 119; Tim Pirrone 1-9-1 8. Lycoming, Chase Whiteman 9-15-0 105; Collin Wright 4-5-0 48.

RECEIVING–Lebanon Valley, Michael Gaval 4-59; Travis Saylor 3-21; Corey Keen 2-23; Patrick Clark 2-16; Gary Wise 1-8. Lycoming, Nick Costello 6-96; Keeghan Morrison 2-22; Brock Zollicoffer 1-18; Kyle Slivka-Fralin 1-14; John Kim 1-3; Blake Bowman 1-1; Dante Gipson 1-(-1).

INTERCEPTIONS–Lebanon Valley, none. Lycoming, Korahn Williams (1), Joe Pinzka (1).

RECORDS–Lebanon Valley (1-6, 1-5), Lycoming (3-4, 2-4).