September 28, 2011

Guiles rewriting record book

More news about: Lebanon Valley
Ben Guiles' basketball skills convinced Lebanon Valley's football coach he could contribute.
Lebanon Valley athletics photo

Jim Monos remembers the first time he saw Ben Guiles play a sport in person.

It wasn't football. Monos had seen enough of that on tape to know Guiles had the raw talent.

Instead, Monos opted for one of Guiles' playoff basketball games during his time at Columbia High School (Pa.).

"I always like to do that," Monos said from his office Monday afternoon. "If I get a chance to see guys play another sport, it helps me to understand a little bit better how they compete. ... And wow, what a competitor. And wow, what an athlete."

Two "wows" in one thought -- yeah, Monos was impressed. He watched Guiles, an undersized post player facing a school with a much higher enrollment, get banged around all game down low. Not once did it faze him. It was at that point Monos knew Guiles could help Lebanon Valley win football games.

Fast forward about four years and Guiles has done more than help Lebanon Valley win games. The senior running back has already started the process of re-writing the team's record book.

In this past Saturday's 61-37 win over Stevenson, Guiles tallied 60 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries. The three scores pushed Guiles' career total to 36 rushing touchdowns, a mark that eclipsed former teammate and backfield partner-in-crime Charlie Parker for the most in team history.

Through four games this season, Guiles has piled up 373 yards on 56 carries and another 124 yards on seven receptions. His 10 total touchdowns scored (nine rushing, one receiving) and 60 points are tied with St. Thomas' Colin Tobin for the most in the nation.

Guiles' needs 636 more rushing yards to surpass Parker as the all-time leader in that category, and needs 38 points to become the team's all-time leading points scorer.

"He's on track to be someone who will end up in the Hall of Fame here at Lebanon Valley College," Monos said, matter-of-factly. "He's that good."

At an even 6-feet, 182 pounds, Guiles looks like a tall, lanky back. But Monos said it's his superior vision and home-run, break-away ability that sets him apart.

"He ran a sprint draw Saturday and the [Stevenson] kid had him dead to rights," Monos said. "He never touched him. [Ben] just made a move to the left and then continued on."

It's that instinctive ability to make defenders miss that has helped Guiles lead the Dutchmen's offense for the last few years. Guiles, who considered playing baseball at Lebanon Valley before ultimately committing himself to football, was added to the varsity roster by the third week of his freshman season.

Guiles saw some carries that first season, but mainly served as a backup to Parker, then a junior. The following year, Guiles and Parker formed one of the more potent running back duos in the country. Guiles led the team with 988 yards and eight touchdowns, while Parker was right behind with 966 yards and 12 touchdowns. Last season, in his first as the lone go-to guy in the backfield, Guiles set new school marks for rushing yards (1,330) and touchdowns (17).

The Dutchmen sit at 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the MAC with their only loss coming to No. 21 Delaware Valley. Lebanon Valley has played in ECAC games at the end of each of the last two seasons, but many players -- including Guiles -- played in the 2009 regular-season finale, a double overtime loss to Albright with an NCAA playoff bid on the line.

Still, Guiles was a force behind that '09 team, which set a school record with nine wins that season. If the Dutchmen win at least two more games this season, Guiles' class will go down as the winningest in school history.

Don't forget to add team captain, business administration major and burgeoning musician to Guiles' file. Though Monos admitted the soft-spoken Guiles generally leads by example rather than words, the running back isn't afraid to speak up when the timing is right.

"When Ben does say something, people are listening," Monos said. "Because he doesn't say it very often, but when he does, they listen. He's just a real competitor. It's been a real privilege to coach this guy."

One place where Guiles has no problem cutting loose is a music stage. Monos, who saw Guiles' band play at a Relay for Life event, said Guiles is in his element with his guitar in hand.

"I think he's a little different on stage," Monos said with a laugh. "He can get after it pretty good on stage. I was really a little taken aback when I watched him perform. He's really very good."

Then again, should it have surprised Monos that Guiles was a great guitar player? He's been nothing short of brilliant in his time at Lebanon Valley.

Like in this year's season opener, when Guiles gouged Gettysburg for 246 yards from scrimmage on just 20 touches, along with a school-record five total touchdowns.

"It was like he was almost head and shoulders above anybody else on the field," Monos said. "It was just one of those days. On the sideline, you just stood back and shook your head and said, 'Man, this guy is great. He's really something.'"

Or like the ECAC Southwest Bowl against Salisbury in 2009 when Guiles, nursing an injured shoulder, ran for a team-best 113 yards and a score in the Dutchmen's win.

It's performances like those that will define Guiles' legacy. Luckily for Monos, Guiles likely still has at least six games to keep sculpting that legacy.

[Editor's note: Due to a series of migraine headaches that prevented him from practicing this week, Ben Guiles was unable to be interviewed for this story.]

Hobart routs perennial contender St. John Fisher
Raise your hand if you saw this one coming? OK, now put it down because you're lying. Perhaps you called a close game, as D3football.com's own Keith McMillan did in Friday's Daily Dose. But no one was expecting Hobart to dish out a 56-20 thrashing to St. John Fisher, a perennial Empire 8 and NCAA contender.

Seriously, how rare was this outcome? Let's take a closer look. The Cardinals entered Saturday's game having won 17 consecutive games against colleges in New York State. The 56 points were the most allowed by St. John Fisher since giving up 71 to Cortland State in a 1991 blowout. Here's another trivia nugget -- to find the the last time St. John Fisher lost by 20 or more points to a team that wasn't Mount Union, you have to go all the way back to a 41-14 loss to Brockport State on Oct. 12, 2002.

Simply put, teams just don't beat St. John Fisher this badly. But the Cardinals were manhandled Saturday. Hobart held advantages in first downs (29 to 15), total yards (491 to 263), third down conversions (71% to 31%) and time of possession (38:18 to 21:42).

Hobart's Nick Strang tied a school record with five touchdown passes, but the Statesmen's rushing attack was even more impressive. Strang led the team with 64 yards, while Steven Webb (55 yards) and four others cracked double digits as Hobart piled up 213 yards on the ground.

Hobart's defense was active and efficient, forcing a fumble, breaking up six passes and tallying seven tackles for a loss. Tyre Coleman registered a pair of sacks for Hobart as well. St. John Fisher's Ryan Kramer (7-for-19, 73 yards) had an uneven day and was replaced by Ahmed Hassanien with the game out of hand late in the fourth quarter.

So what, if any, good news is here for the taking for St. John Fisher? It wasn't a conference loss, so the Cardinals still have time to figure out what went wrong. The bad news? Alfred is coming up next, so they better figure it out quickly. The good news for Hobart is obvious -- the Statesmen sit at 2-0 with a pair of convincing wins under their belt. Hobart was handcuffed with an eight-game schedule this year, but they'll enter Liberty League play with as much confidence as any team in the region right now.

Alfred holds off Springfield in key Empire 8 tilt
The fact that Alfred defeated Empire 8 rival Springfield 30-22 isn't surprising, in and of itself. It's how the Saxons accomplished that victory that stands out. Springfield, the top-ranked rushing team in the country entering the game, piled up 205 yards on the ground in the first half. The score was tied 14-14.

But in the second half, the Pride's often-celebrated, always-feared triple-option offense stalled, picking up just 27 rushing yards in the final 30 minutes. Springfield managed just eight more points as Alfred beat Springfield at its own game -- running the football.

The two squads finished dead even at 232 rushing yards, while Alfred dominated time of possession (36:45 to 23:15). Alfred sophomore tailback Austin Dwyer led the charge with 137 rushing yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. But 74 yards from Tyler DeRosa and two short touchdown runs from goal-line back Nick Clark rounded out the impressive ground attack.

Through three games, Alfred ranks third in the Empire 8 in team rushing offense, piling up an average of 215 yards per game. The Saxons trail only Springfield and Salisbury, which both run the triple-option. Combine that figure with Alfred's passing attack, which right now is averaging just under 211 yards per game, and you've got one of the more balanced offenses in the country.

Cortland avoids second NJAC loss, rallies past Rowan
If it's possible to face a must-win in just the third game of the season, that's exactly where Cortland State and Rowan found themselves in Saturday's matchup. Both squads entered the season with aspirations of winning the NJAC and earning an NCAA playoff bid. In the end it was Cortland, coming off a loss to Kean a week ago, that bounced back with a 31-28 win.

Cortland quarterback Dan Pitcher was nothing short of outstanding, completing 20-of-29 passes for 315 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns, which helped the Red Dragons turn a 21-16 deficit into a 31-21 lead. Rowan led 14-3 in the first quarter, and 21-10 in the second quarter, but Cortland found a way to rally each time. Pitcher led Cortland on a seven-play, 65-yard drive to open the second half that culminated in an 18-yard touchdown strike to Brian Haber.

The Red Dragons' defense, led by Cody Allen (12 tackles), and Steve Gruber and Connor Tompkins (seven tackles, one sack, 2.5 tackles for loss for each), would hold Rowan scoreless on its next four possessions. The Cortland offense got the ball inside Rowan territory on its first possession of the fourth quarter, and promptly covered the 47 yards in just 2:21 over five plays. Pitcher hit Mike Humphrey on a 14-yard scoring strike to give Cortland the lead for good.

John Babin (eight receptions, 183 yards) and kicker Marc Corrado (three-for-three on field goals, two-for-two on extra points) also had strong days for the Red Dragons, who sit at 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the NJAC. Rowan quarterback Louie Bianchini finished 25-for-37 passing for 213 yards and two touchdowns, including one to Eddie Eisenhart (nine receptions, 87 yards).

Rowan, which dropped a low-scoring 8-6 decision in the season opener to Lycoming, faces Western Connecticut, William Paterson, Morrisville State and Buffalo State over its next four games. That quartet is a combined 3-10 overall. A loss to any of those four would virtually eliminate the Profs from the NJAC race.

Union finally snaps losing skid
A win is a win, particularly in a conference game. But sometimes a win can just mean so much more. Union knocked off Liberty League foe Rochester in a high-scoring 41-34 contest this past Saturday. The victory snapped the Dutchmen's nine-game losing streak, which dated back to Oct. 9, 2010. If you're counting, that is roughly two weeks shy of a full calendar year without a win. The best part for Union? That streak means nothing now -- they're tied for first place in the Liberty League. Union sits in a three-way tie with defending champion St. Lawrence and WPI with a 1-0 conference mark.

It's well known at this point that the Liberty League, more so than most conferences, is a wide open race. St. Lawrence won the automatic bid last year by winning five of its six conference games to finish 5-5. Why couldn't Union do the same? With the weight of the losing streak finally off their collective back, the Dutchmen could be ready to turn the corner.

Union flashed its offensive capabilities against Rochester, piling up 581 total yards of offense. Quarterback Drew Connolly and wide receiver Justin Gallo were, quite simply, unstoppable. Connolly connected with Gallo 14 times for 237 yards and three touchdowns. Gallo broke the record for most career touchdown receptions in school history, while the 14 receptions rank second all-time for a single game. Connolly's 363 passing yards is the fourth-highest single-game total in Union history.

The Dutchmen did the majority of their offensive damage in the third quarter. After Rochester scored to cut Union's lead to 17-13, the Dutchmen scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions -- including an 83-yard touchdown run by Rob Johnson -- to blow the game open. Rochester quarterback Braezen Subick put up his own gaudy numbers, finishing with 310 yards and a Rochester record-tying four touchdown passes. But for the second week in a row, the Yellowjackets' defense was gouged. After giving up 52 points to St. John Fisher in the Courage Bowl, Rochester struggled to contain Union's offense.

Ranked teams keep rolling
All five of the East Region top 25 ranked teams remained in the rankings this week, while a sixth jumped back into the rankings on its bye week. Aside from Alfred (No. 14) and Cortland (No. 18), Kean (No. 10), Montclair State (No. 12) and Delaware Valley (No. 21) all won also. Salisbury, which dropped out of the top 25 after a close-call win against Christopher Newport two weeks ago, came in at No. 25 this week.

Kean, led by 195 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Chris Dimicco, held off Western Connecticut in a closer-than-expected, 44-33 win. Montclair State rolled over Buffalo State 53-24 with a superb defensive effort. The Red Hawks had three sacks, recovered a pair of fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown. Delaware Valley scored the first 44 points en route to a 50-7 win against FDU-Florham on Saturday.

Quick hits
Ethan Sutton finished with five catches for 107 yards and three touchdowns to help St. Lawrence edge Merchant Marine 20-10 and retain the Hoffman Cup. Marcus Washington added 161 rushing yards as St. Lawrence improved to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the Liberty League. J.P. Gosselin led the Mariners (1-3, 0-1) with 76 rushing yards and a touchdown. ... Ernie Mello tallied 166 rushing yards and four touchdowns to help WPI beat RPI 34-31 and win its second consecutive Transit Trophy since 1995-96. Mello led a ground attack that piled up 264 yards in total. Defensively, John Perron (five tackles, one fumble recovery, two interceptions) earned Liberty League Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance. RPI quarterback Mike Hermann rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another in the loss. ... Albright forced three turnovers in a lopsided 57-17 rout of King's Saturday. Drew Peterson tallied a pair of interceptions, including one which he returned 78 yards for a touchdown, while David Webb had six tackles, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups. Albright has been rolling of late, scoring at least 46 points in each of its last three games. ... While teams like Kean, Cortland State and Montclair State steal most of the headlines in the NJAC, but TCNJ has quietly got off to a 3-0 start, including a 2-0 mark in conference. Joe Falco (113 rushing yards, one touchdown) led the Lions past Morrisville State 28-14 Saturday. Lemar Johnson (206 passing yards, 107 rushing yards, two total touchdowns) powered the Morrisville offense. ... Dawys German rushed for 157 yards and caught a pair of touchdown passes to lead William Patterson (2-1, 1-1) past Brockport State 35-23. ... Wilkes handed Widener its first loss of the season, 35-27 Saturday, behind a season-high 332 rushing yards. Zach Tivald led the way with 147 yards on 21 carries, but Alex George (98 yards, three touchdowns) was just as effective. ... Hartwick dropped a tough 7-3 decision to Mount Ida in a defensive struggle. Jordan Wilkins tallied 99 yards on seven receptions, but Hartwick's two quarterbacks -- Dan Brainard and Keegan Corbett -- combined to go 17-for-38 with four interceptions.

Looking ahead
Which St. John Fisher (2-1, 0-0) will No. 14 Alfred (3-0, 1-0) host at 4 p.m. this Saturday? The St. John Fisher squad that thoroughly dominated Rochester in the Courage Bowl two weeks ago? Or the St. John Fisher team that was bullied in every aspect of the game by Hobart this past Saturday? Here's another question to ponder -- will it even matter? Alfred is running like a well-oiled machine so far this season. The Saxons will be tough to beat.

St. Lawrence (2-2, 1-0) is coming off its first conference win of the season. Hobart (2-0, 0-0) is coming off one of its bigger wins in recent memory. Whose momentum will mean more when the two teams face off at 2 p.m. Saturday in Geneva, N.Y.? That remains to be seen. St. Lawrence won a tight 24-21 decision last season.

Montclair State (3-0, 2-0) looked every bit like a top 15 team this past weekend. It's fair to expect much of the same when the Red Hawks travel to Brockport State (0-3, 0-2) for a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday. But Montclair State only edged Morrisville State by a single point earlier this season. The Red Hawks must avoid a similar upset scare in their quest for an NJAC crown.

Contact me
I'm always happy to hear from you, whether its questions, feedback or story ideas. Please reach out to me at andrew.lovell@d3sports.com. You can also follow me on Twitter (@andrew_lovell), and be sure to get involved in the discussions on the Around the East thread on the message board.

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Andrew Lovell

Andrew Lovell is an associate news editor for ESPN.com and a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has contributed freelance work to ESPN Rise and has been a regular contributor to D3football.com since 2007. Andrew has also written for a number of daily newspapers in New York, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal and Auburn Citizen. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with B.A. in Sport Media and a minor in writing. A native of Hyde Park, N.Y., Andrew currently resides in New Britain. 

2006-10 columnist: Adam Samrov 

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