Warriors pull back to .500 after topping FDU-Florham
If Nick Costello were only 6-feet, 4-inches tall, the football probably never would have touched his fingers. Instead, at 6-5, the Lycoming receiver had just enough reach to grip the ball thrown to him by quarterback Chase Williams.
Just getting his fingertips on the ball was enough to reel it in. And the step he had on the FDU-Florham receiver was enough to turn the pass into a 54-yard touchdown.
Williams and Costello connected twice for touchdowns in the first quarter of Saturday’s homecoming game at David Person Field, and the fast start helped the Warriors win their third consecutive game, this one 48-21 over the Devils. Lycoming has won three games in a row to get back to .500 for the first time this season.
It’s also the first time since the final three games of 2014 the Warriors have won three consecutive games in a single season. All three wins have come vs. teams Lycoming lost to a year ago.
The Warriors rolled up nearly 400 yards of offense, the defense limited FDU’s scoring chances, and the special teams came up with a number of key plays in the most complete effort of the season for Lycoming.
“It’s obviously a step in the right direction,” Lycoming head coach Mike Clark said. “I thought it was a very complete effort. It’s the first time we’ve won three in a row since 2014, which is crazy to say out loud, but it’s going to continue to be the expectation here.”
“It’s a big momentum swing in terms of moving forward this year,” said Lycoming defensive back Aaron Davis, who led the team with seven tackles. “I feel good about what we accomplished in these last three games going from 0-3 to 3-3. That’s always great to do.”
The complexion of the entire Lycoming season has changed over the last three weeks from a team staring at a potential 0-4 start to one which will go into Widener next week looking to get above .500 this late in the season since the 2014 season when it finished 8-2.
Part of getting to this point was beating teams in the last two weeks the Warriors knew they were better than no matter what the records said. They dispatched Wilkes a week ago by scoring the final 34 points of the game. Saturday, Lycoming got off to a 21-0 lead against a one-win Devils team which allowed at least 48 points for the fourth time this year.
And part of beating those team Lycoming knew it was better than was just getting the football into the hands of its best players. In the first quarter it meant Williams throwing a beauty of a third-down fade pass to Costello which he caught over 5-foot-7 cornerback Michael Ferrante.
On Lycoming’s next offense snap a minute later, Costello used a jab step to the inside and broke free down the sideline where Williams dropped a dime to Costello for their second touchdown hookup of the quarter. They were the fourth and fifth touchdown receptions of the season for Costello, who has caught a fade pass for a touchdown in three of the last four weeks.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better at getting off man coverage. It’s something we emphasize as a receiving corps is getting off press coverage,” Costello said. “Chase laid a beautiful ball out there. I caught it with the fingertips, tucked it away and got in the end zone.”
“That’s a nice security blanket knowing if they have a little guy at corner and they want to man him up,” Clark said. “It’s one of those things where it’s like we’re better than you and if we have to go to (the fade), we will. There aren’t many 6-5 corners. We’ve never historically been a big fade team, but it’s a way for us to get the ball to people we think can score touchdowns.”
And that’s what Clark did throughout Saturday’s affair, putting the football in the hands of five players who scored a touchdown for the Warriors. Sam Dressler had a tremendous downhill run on a 13-yard scoring jaunt in the first half.
Brock Zollicoffer had a momentum-stealing 39-yard scoring run on a speed sweep in the third quarter. Dante Gipson scored from 1-yard out after a special teams turnover. And Montoursville graduate Keith Batkowski scored his first career touchdown from 6 yards out on a drive in which he carried eight times for 52 yards.
And just for good measure, Jamie Fisher kicked a pair of field goals. His 11 field goals this season are just two short of the Lycoming single-season record. His 45-yarder at the end of the first half tied for the fifth-longest in school history.
“We knew that we were just more skilled than them,” Costello said. “But they play tough. It was a solid win all around and we’re happy to get it.”
“I hate kicking field goals. I love Jamie, and I’m glad he’s having a great season, but I’d much rather kick extra points than field goals,” Clark said. “Touchdowns win you games. Field goals can help you win games. But we’d rather consistently win games by scoring touchdowns.”
They also won Saturday’s game by limiting what the damage FDU’s offense was able to inflict. Even though quarterback Jagger Green completed a ridiculous 52 of 67 passes (77 percent) and Mike Panzarino caught a school-record 23 of them, much of the Devils’ damage was done between the 20s.
FDU lived off of bubble screens, rocket screens, and underneath drag routes which tested the Lycoming defense’s ability to tackle in space. While the Devils were able to nickel and dime the Warriors (5.2 yards per attempt, 6.7 per completion), only twice were they able to punch in a score against Lycoming’s first-team defense.
“I feel like we did a great job against them,” Davis said. “If they want to nickel and dime us up the field, OK. We’re going to hold them down between the 20s.”
FDU-Florham 0 14 0 7–21
Lycoming 14 13 14 7–48
LYCO-Nick Costello 5 pass from Chase Williams (Jamie Fisher kick) 05:30
LYCO-Nick Costello 54 pass from Chase Williams (Jamie Fisher kick) 04:12
LYCO-Sam Dressler 13 run (Jamie Fisher kick 13:54
FDU-Mike Panzarino 8 pass from Jagger Green (Nick Maciejewski kick 09:55
LYCO-Jamie Fisher 30 field goal 05:36
FDU-Malik Pressley 22 pass from Jagger Green (Nick Maciejewski kick) 01:03
LYCO-Jamie Fisher 45 field goal 00:00
LYCO -Brock Zollicoffer 39 run (Jamie Fisher kick) 06:26
LYCO-Dante Gipson 1 run (Jamie Fisher kick) 04:27
LYCO-Keith Batkowski 6 run (Andrew Traxler kick) 06:57
FDU-Khrystan Camillo 9 pass from Jagger Green (Nick Maciejewski kick) 00:21
TEAM STATS FDU LYCO
FIRST DOWNS 27 21
RUSHES-YARDS 19-60 38-203
PASSING YD 350 175
Att-Comp-Int 67-52-0 30-16-0
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Return yards 30 125
Punts-avg 6-29 5-36
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yds 11-156 7-118
Possession Time 32:53 27:07
RUSHING: FDU-Florham-Alnazir Blackman 13-36; Jagger Green 4-24; Mike Panzarino 2-0. Lycoming-Keith Batkowski 8-52; Sam Dressler 11-47; Brock Zollicoffer 2-44; Chase Williams 7-27; Dante Gipson 9-27; Lenny Wyda 1-6.
PASSING: FDU-Florham-Jagger Green 52-67-0-350. Lycoming-Chase Williams 13-26-0-158; Collin Wright 3-4-0-17.
RECEIVING: FDU-Florham-Mike Panzarino 23-145; Malik Pressley 12-114; Alnazir Blackman 8-45; Khrystan Camillo 5-23; Dennis Sutton 2-12; Rory Sullivan 1-7; Damarquis Price 1-4. Lycoming-Nick Costello 5-88; Christoff Minott 3-17; Brock Zollicoffer 2-20; John Kim 2-11; Dante Gipson 2-8; Mike Mulvihill 1-16; Dezmenn Johnson 1-15.
Records: FDU-Florham 1-5, 0-5. Lycoming 3-3, 3-2