Lebanon Valley Clinches First-Ever NCAA Trip Despite Albright Loss
READING, Pa. - Lebanon Valley clinched its first-ever berth to the NCAA Tournament, getting help from around the league despite a 40-25 loss to Albright in the regular-season finale.
The Dutchmen (8-2, 7-2 MAC) co-share the MAC title with Lycoming - LVC's first since 1969 - but earned the NCAA berth after Delaware Valley beat Widener 50-28. By virtue of their 14-7 win over Lycoming earlier this season, LVC holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Warriors for the MAC's automatic berth to the NCAA field of 32.
Lebanon Valley will find out its NCAA assignment Sunday night with the live selection show at 6 p.m., to be streamed on NCAA.com. Who they play and where they might go is anyone's guess.
"It's not the way we wanted to back in," head coach Jim Monos said. "But I told our players this: we're still champions. We won the MAC championship."
Turnovers hurt Lebanon Valley as Albright scored three times off giveaways as the Lions (7-3, 6-3 MAC) racked up 454 yards of offense led by Ty Luddy's 173 yards and two touchdowns passing and Ty Hughes' 130 yards on the ground.
Brendan Irving recorded his fourth straight 100-yard game, going for 105 yards, while Brian Murphy and Austin Hartman each ran for touchdowns. Murphy threw for 214 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown to Jake Zeigler, who ended with a career-best 146 yards on six receptions.
"They're a good football team, they're one of the best teams in the league," said head coach Jim Monos. "Give them a lot of credit - they controlled the ball, they wore us down defensively, and we made uncharacteristic mistakes early in the game turning the ball over."
LVC got off to a fast start with a turnover of their own, as Murphy took advantage of Josh Borreli's interception to score from 20 yards out. Albright capped a 91-yard drive with Vinny Williams' nine-yard catch later in the quarter, then started the second with Devron Clark's two-yard catch to lead 14-7.
On the first play of the next drive, Matt Filosa jumped Murphy's pass at the 35 and went to the house, turning it into a 20-7 Albright lead in an 11-second span after Frank Gaffney blocked the PAT, his third of the year. LVC cut the lead thanks to Hartman's four-yard punch-in late in the half, but the Lions got points at the buzzer when Dan Sobolewski hit from 38 yards out to make it 23-14 at the break.
The Dutchmen gave the ball up on the first play of the second half as Filosa poked the ball out of Irving's hands, and Albright found the end zone seven plays later when Hughes scampered in from four yards out. Murphy went big on the first play of the next drive, bombing a pass to Zeigler up the right sideline for a 75-yard strike, but Albright erased any momentum with Clark's 65-yard catch and run to take a 37-22 lead midway through the third.
Sean Fakete made a 23-yard field goal late in the quarter, but that would be LVC's last points as Albright ground out a back-breaking 14-play, 6:54 drive in the fourth that ended with a 20-yard field goal. Any hope of a comeback was dashed when Drew Peterson intercepted Murphy in the end zone with 1:45 left in the game.