2023 Moravian vs Lycoming

Landmark Preview: What To Watch Out For As Lycoming Hosts Moravian

Landmark Preview: What To Watch Out For As Lycoming Hosts Moravian

Lycoming has a shot to play spoiler to Susquehanna, but must first defeat Moravian in an in-state showdown which hasn’t happened in almost two decades.

Nov 3, 2023 by Briar Napier
Landmark Preview: What To Watch Out For As Lycoming Hosts Moravian

The penultimate week of the Landmark Conference football season sees the league having a little bit of potential drama left in the tank. 

One team in particular has been the clear cream of the crop throughout the past two-and-a-half months, but it isn’t quite league champion — yet. 

Lycoming has a shot to play spoiler, but it must first defeat Moravian in an in-state showdown which hasn’t happened in almost two decades. 

The Greyhounds, meanwhile, are amid a strong season in a new era with a first-year coach and a chance of pace in the Landmark after coming over from elsewhere. 

November is one of the most critical months on the college football calendar, and as a Landmark Conference football champion is soon to be crowned for the very first time, the stakes in the league are at a (literal) all-time high.

Here’s a look at what to watch out for as Lycoming hosts Moravian this weekend, with kickoff scheduled for noon (ET) Saturday on FloFootball:

Greyhounds Rebound?

No one in the Landmark has been able to touch league-leading Susquehanna this season, with the unbeaten (9-0 overall) River Hawks victorious in all of their conference games by multiple touchdowns as the nation’s No. 11 team is on a bye this weekend before its regular season finale. 

But this past weekend, Moravian did give Susquehanna its biggest dogfight in the Landmark this season. The Greyhounds were defeated 33-14, with a 13-0 halftime hole to SU heavily hampering their chances to upset the near-certain league champions, but their second half was stronger as quarterback Jared Jenkins (20-for-33 passing, 241 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) had a solid day, even while facing immense pressure from the Susquehanna defense as he was sacked five times. 

Moravian’s chances to win the Landmark and take the league’s automatic bid to the Division III playoffs are now in the gutter, but it has plenty of positivity to build upon as it can finish the year at a maximum of 6-4 under first-year coach Jeffrey Long Jr., which would be the program’s most wins since 2015. 

Getting there requires getting over the SU defeat quickly and taking down Lycoming this weekend, however, for the Greyhounds to stake their claim as being the Landmark’s undisputed No. 2 team; it’s part of a brutal close to the season for Moravian as it ends its 2023 campaign against Susquehanna, Lycoming and Wilkes — the current top four teams in the conference, along with Moravian — in that order. But with one of only two offenses in the Landmark which averages over 400 yards of offense a game, the Greyhounds, who were only outgained by 12 total yards (366-354) of offense against the mighty River Hawks, have the weapons to hang with anyone, as they so clearly proved just a few days ago.

An Outside Chance

Just one team besides Susquehanna can technically still win the Landmark, and though it’ll be an uphill battle for Lycoming to pull off the improbable and capture the inaugural league title, that in itself should be enough of a motivating factor for the Warriors over the regular season’s final two weeks. 

Lycoming has recovered well from an awful 0-5 start, winning back-to-back-to-back matchups against Catholic, Keystone, and Juniata in that order in league play to set itself up to be the only team that can still challenge Susquehanna for the Landmark title. The fact that Lycoming hasn’t played Susquehanna yet is actually to its benefit in this case; for the Warriors to shock everyone and be conference champions, they must defeat Moravian this weekend and SU the next to put them and the River Hawks on equal 5-1 conference records at season’s end. 

In that scenario, Lycoming would hold the tiebreaker (head-to-head) over Susquehanna and therefore win the Landmark championship, receiving the league’s auto-bid to the playoffs in the process. 

So, yeah, it’s safe to say this weekend’s game against the Greyhounds is a must-win. 

What’s especially gone right for the Warriors during their three-game winning streak, however, is that their formerly leaky defense has locked in and become a strong unit, allowing just 14 points per game over the past three weeks. Against Juniata in particular (a 56-10 Lycoming victory), the Warriors sacked the quarterback seven times and held Juniata’s quarterbacks to a combined 53 passing yards, dictating how and when the Eagles were able to gain chunks of yardage for much of the afternoon. 

Considering how much Moravian struggled against Susquehanna’s pass rush as previously mentioned, that’s a good sign as Lycoming evaluates its chances at home this weekend.

A Rivalry Renewed?

With both Lycoming and Moravian calling Pennsylvania home and the towns of Williamsport and Bethlehem being a little over a two-hour drive apart, it’s a bit of a surprise that despite that relatively short distance between them in the same state, the two programs haven’t met on the gridiron since 2006. 

Moravian had been a football-only member of the Centennial Conference since 2007-08 and Lycoming a member of the Middle Atlantic Conference for decades, which previously limited the Greyhounds and Warriors from duking it out against each other in football. But the Landmark and its addition of football for the current academic year has brought them both together once again, and with stakes on the line (especially for Lycoming), it’s a proper revisiting for the first time in 17 years. 

As two of the highest scoring teams in the league not named Susquehanna, Moravian (29.0 points per game) and Lycoming (27.4) have high potential to be a shootout; Jenkins, the Greyhounds’ quarterback, is currently the Landmark’s passing leader with 2,210 yards and 23 touchdowns through the air as lightning in a bottle this season. 

And on the Warriors’ sideline, two-headed running back tandem Terrence Oliver (414 yards, four touchdowns) and Quasim Benson (392 yards, five touchdowns) make for a dangerous one-two punch on the ground that can leave defenders in the dust, with Lycoming’s rushing attack all-in-all hitting its stride with an average of 206 rushing yards per game throughout its three-game winning streak.

Classics and close games are cornerstones of good rivalry games, and with Moravian and Lycoming now looped together in the same league for the foreseeable future, perhaps Saturday’s clash will be the start of something fresh and exciting in football for years to come at both schools.