Delaware Valley’s defense stifles Warriors in a rout at Lycoming

A handful of Lycoming College defenders pull down Delaware Valley’s Devauntay Ellis during a MAC game on Saturday at David Person Field in Williamsport. (RALPH WILSON/For The Sun-Gazette)

Delaware Valley should have been facing a difficult decision: kick a long field goal or keep the offense on the field on fourth-and-10.

Then it was bailed out by referee Brian McGrath.

A questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave the Aggies new life inside the Lycoming 15 and they scored just two plays later, pushing their lead over the Warriors to three scores. It was the last time Lycoming threatened 12th-ranked Delaware Valley on Saturday afternoon at David Person Field. It was a penalty call which helped break the back of a stout Lycoming defense in a 34-3 loss, sending the Warriors to their second 0-2 start in the last three years.

Make no mistake, that penalty call didn’t cost Lycoming the football game yesterday. The Warriors gained just 82 yards of offense — its lowest output in 17 years — and the defense did surrender 477 yards.

But that one call took away what should have been another big stop for a Lycoming defense which surrendered just 14 points through the game’s first 37 or so minutes. And to Lycoming head coach Mike Clark, the call was so ludicrous to him that he could only laugh about it.

“That was the worst piece of officiating, that call. We got a penalty because one of our kids called one of their kids a fat slob. No cursing. Nothing,” Clark said. “He called a personal foul unsportsmanlike conduct for that. I questioned him and said ‘You really called that?’ And he said yes and he couldn’t have been prouder of himself. But that was the worst call by an official in a close football game that I’ve ever seen. It’s so laughable that I didn’t get mad about it.

“When our defense is playing really well and got another stop, he handed them a first down inside the 20-yard line. The fact that that guy does Division I-AA scholarship games, he’ll get chewed up and spit out and he’ll never get promoted out of the organization where he currently officiates, nor should he. But that’s not why we lost. We got our rear ends kicked.”

The last of those statements by Clark couldn’t be truer. While the defense did play well for the first 2 1/2 quarters, picking up key stops when necessary, it did 301 rushing yards to the Aggies. At halftime, Delaware Valley had a 242-37 advantage in offensive yards.

There wasn’t a single offensive category where the Warriors matched Delaware Valley. The Aggies led in time of possession (40:06-19:54), total yards (477-82), first downs (26-3), third down conversions (9 of 16 versus 1 of 13).

In all, it was one of the most lopsided games of Clark’s 10-year tenure as Lycoming’s head coach. But that final dagger seemed to be the touchdown scored by running back Devauntay Ellis just after that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

It completely changed the complexion of the football game from one which the Warriors were still grinding and still looking for a way back in, to one in which they were defeated and quickly turned into a rout.

Delaware Valley scored twice over the final 7 minutes of the third quarter and tacked on another touchdown early in the fourth quarter to pull away from Lycoming. The Warriors will be looking to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2007 next week against Albright.

Yesterday was Delaware Valley’s first win in Williamsport since 2011.

“I’m just happy with our guys. It’s our one overnight trip and I think in the past maybe we’ve lacked some maturity,” Aggies head coach Duke Greco said. “We didn’t play well, but we were focused and we were into it.”

“Coach stressed all week that it’s tough to win at Lyco,” said Ellis, who rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns. “Getting a win here is big for us and big for the program. We’re thankful for that.”

One of the big goals for Lycoming was to avoid the big play like the two 70-plus yard touchdowns which doomed it in last year’s matchup. Ellis destroyed that notion early, scoring on a 62-yard jaunt less than 5 minutes into the football game.

The 6-foot-1, 227-pound senior who was a 10.5-second 100-meter sprinter in high school, used his tremendous vision to find a cutback lane and then fly past the secondary for his first score of the day.

It was that cutback ability by Ellis — and the fact that he’s built like Eddie George while running like Usain Bolt — which helped him gouge the Lycoming defense to the tune of 7.8 yards per carry. He needed just one quarter and six carries to break the 100-yard barrier.

That patience to find the cutback lane is something Ellis wanted to add to his game this year. He’s always been a downhill runner, but the patience allows him to turn 5-yard runs in to 15-yard runs.

“It took me all the way until senior year this year to learn that patience,” Ellis said. “Last year I was like ‘hit it, hit it, hit it.’ All this summer I was like ‘be patient and let it set up.’ When I let it set up, it opens up more than when I just hit it.”

“You can’t arm tackle him,” said Lycoming defensive end Adin Hines, who recorded 1 1/2 sacks. “We definitely had a lot of missed tackles and people were tackling him too high.”

That first touchdown run for Ellis proved to be the difference. The only score for Lycoming came after Delaware Valley muffed a punt in the second quarter, setting up Jamie Fisher with a 43-yard field goal.

Lycoming’s only points this season have been three field goals off the foot of Fisher. It’s the first time since 1994 Lycoming has played the first two games of the season without scoring at least seven points in a game.

The 82 yards of offense by the Warriors yesterday were their fewest since an Oct. 14, 2000 loss to Wilkes when Lycoming gained just 31 yards of offense.

“As coaches, we have to ask ourselves what do we have to do better,” Clark said. “It’s not going to get any easier. We have another good team coming in here next week. We’ll do our best to keep plugging. There’s eight weeks left. The season’s not over and we can be better.”