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Lycoming can only sit and wait to see playoff fate

November 10, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

DALLAS - All Lycoming can do now is sit and wait.

The Warriors held up their end of the bargain Saturday, beating Misericordia, 38-0, in their regular season finale. But the other puzzle pieces that needed to fall into place for Lycoming didn't.

Widener beat Delaware Valley, 42-23, securing the Middle Atlantic Conference title for the Pride and giving them the league's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament which begins Saturday. Now, at 8-2, Lycoming can only sit around and wait for the NCAA Division III Selection Show tonight at 6 p.m. To find out if it'll gain an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament.

“It's gonna suck,” said Warrior running back Parker Showers who ran for a career-high 188 yards yesterday. “You don't know if it's good-bye or a new beginning.”

Lycoming entered Saturday's game ranked seventh in the most recent East Region rankings. Three of the teams ranked ahead of them had clinched league title's and get automatic berths to the playoffs. A fourth, Widener, gained its automatic berth yesterday. Rowan likely secured its spot as the region's top non-automatic qualifier with a win over The College of New Jersey on Friday. And with Salve Regina's loss in the NEFC title game yesterday, Lycoming will probably be the second-highest ranked non automatic qualifier in the region when the selection committee meets today to fill out the 32-team bracket.

“There's no question that we're going to be in the discussion,” Clark said. “Rowan should get in early which means we'll be talked about for the last four or five teams in among the last seven or eight teams considered. So it's realistic, but I don't know.”

The uncertainty left a damper on Lycoming's first shutout win since Oct. 7, 2010, and the 65th in the career of Warriors defensive coordinator Steve Wiser. Players spoke with friends and family members outside of the locker room in a quiet tone and nobody seemed overly excited about the win.

The dampened spirits also could have come from an offensive effort that was sluggish the entire first half. The Warriors held a mind-boggling statistical edge in the first half, but led just 17-0 against a Misericordia team which has given up an average of more than 50 points per game this season.

“It's crazy that you just won a game 38-0 and it's kind of bittersweet,” Clark said. “You hope you get another opportunity. The next 24 hours will be tough.”

“I've never been on a team that felt like this after a 38-0 win,” said Lycoming defensive tackle Dwight Hentz. “It's just the uncertainty of what's going to happen over the next 24 hours.”

Although the start for the Lycoming offense was sluggish yesterday, the defense was anything but. The unit held Misericordia to just 12 yards of offense on 18 first-half plays. The Cougars finished with minus-15 rushing yards for the game, and just 69 total yards of offense.

Hentz and fellow defensive tackle Roger Jayne blew up Misericordia's pistol formation offense early, getting into the backfield and disrupting the timing of the handoffs and the routes in which the running backs had to take just to get back to the line of scrimmage.

And the defense did it playing without four starters. Linebackers Kabongo Bukasa and Tyler Denike were both out, and Kody Flail and Ryan Fenningham each missed their third consecutive game.

“Guys today like Jamie Reitzi or Jermaine Reyes or Caleb Shertzer or Ryan Mihoci have stepped in and done a nice job,” Clark said. “But that would probably be a lot harder if Dwight and Roger and Nate (Oropollo) didn't step in and do what they did. I think they're so good at what they do that the drop off that you get isn't as noticeable because they blow things up so early.”

“We stress that offensive and defensive line control the game. When (the defensive line) is having a good game, the entire defense has a good game,” said Hentz, a senior who finished with 2 1/2 tackles for loss. “When we get a good push up front it makes the job easier for the defensive backs and linebackers.”

Lycoming held a 17-0 lead at halftime thanks to the 11th touchdown catch of the year for Jarrin Campman, and a 48-yard touchdown run for Showers, the longest run of his career. Zack Czap added a 26-yard field goal at the end of the half.

The Warriors came out in the second half with a better offensive rhythm to take complete control of the game. Their first drive was an eight-play, 59-yard affair capped by Craig Needhammer's (17 carries, 95 yards) 1-yard touchdown run. The second drive was a six-play effort capped with Showers' second touchdown run.

“It all came down to discipline and everybody staying with proper footwork and doing what we need to do in the second half,” Showers said. “I think we just came out with the attitude that we're going to march down the field and we're going to score, and that's what happened.”

“Our offense is at its best when we're running the ball well,” Campman said. “When Parker's breaking off 8, 9 and 10-yarders and Needhammer's breaking off big runs, it does open up the pass game. It's what we're founded on here at Lycoming. We run the ball.”

Now the Warriors just have to wait and see if they'll get another chance to run it next week.

 
 

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