BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Senior running back Connor McGrath ran for 202 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries to lead the Susquehanna University to a 38-18 Centennial Conference victory over host Moravian College Saturday at Rocco Calvo Field.
The Crusaders, now 3-3 overall and 2-3 in Centennial Conference action, received the opening kickoff and needed just four plays to cover 62 yards to the end zone and opening the scoring. McGrath would finish the drive with a 41-yard scoring run, and sophomore kicker Spencer Hotaling added the extra-point to put Susquehanna up 7-0 just 1:34 into the game.
The Greyhounds, who slipped to 2-4 on the season and 2-3 on conference play, were celebrating Homecoming but unable to generate any offense on their opening drive, punting after three plays.
The Moravian defense held Susquehanna to one first down on its next drive before the Crusaders punted.
The Greyhounds picked up two first downs, one on a pass from sophomore quarterback Jimmy Lahue to senior wide receiver Albie Moran and the other on a run by senior running back Joe Tegan to move the ball into Susquehanna territory. Facing a fourth-and-eight, Moravian senior punter Tyler Thompson rolled to his left and decided to run for a first down instead of punting, and he picked up the first down with an 11-yard scamper. However, the Greyhounds were unable to move the ball with Tegan suffering a fumble on second down that he recovered. Thompson came on again and did pun t this time with the ball downed at the Susquehanna two-yard line.
The Crusaders picked up just six yards before punting, but the Greyhounds would turn the ball over on downs at the Susquehanna 29-yard line.
On Susquehanna's second play, sophomore quarterback Taylor Kolmer handed off to sophomore tight end Martin Horn, who in turn found senior wide receiver Mike Ritter down field with a 64-yard catch-and-run touchdown on the final play of the first quarter. Hotaling's PAT made the score 14-0 Susquehanna after the first 15 minutes of action.
Moravian had a first down to start its next drive on a pass from Lahue to freshman wide receiver Jimmy McCarthy; however, Thompson would end up punting, this time with his left foot, and have the ball downed at the Susquehanna five-yard line.
The Crusaders would run McGrath on six straight plays and move into Moravian territory with a penalty. Susquehanna moved the ball to the Moravian 28-yard line where Hotaling came on and made a 41-yard field goal with 7:44 left in the second quarter to push the Crusaders' lead to 17-0.
After the kickoff went out of bounds, Lahue hit freshman wide receiver Will McLaughlin with a first down pass to get to near midfield. Moravian's drive would stall with Thompson again punting, this time a career long left footed of 49 yards that was downed at the one-yard line.
Susquehanna was only able to pick up three yards, forcing Hotaling to punt with his feet against the back line of the end zone. Moravian senior defensive back Rees Judge came in from the left side and blocked the punt, which ended up rolling out of the back of the end zone for a safety for the Greyhounds to set the score at 17-2 with 4:04 left in the first half.
Moravian would start at its own 41-yard line after the free kick, and on second down, Lahue hit McLaughlin for a short pass, and McLaughlin broke a tackle and gained 47 yards to the Susquehanna 10-yard line. Three plays later, Lahue scored on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line. Moravian went for two but was stopped on the play as both teams were called for penalties. By rule, the conversion was not tried again, setting the score at 17-8 Susquehanna with 1:33 before the intermission.
The Crusaders started from their own 30-yard line, and with Kolmer completing passes to McGrath and sophomore Ryan Lopes down the sideline, Susquehanna was able to score again before halftime on a nine-yard pass from Kolmer to Ritter with 26 seconds left in the half. Hotaling's extra-point sent the teams to the locker room with Susquehanna leading 24-8.
At halftime of the game as part of the Homecoming ceremonies, Moravian handed out plaques to the families of the late Harvey "Gil" Gillespie and the late Rocco Calvo as the two were inducted into the Middle Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame as part of the MACs 100th year celebration.
Moravian would start the second half with the ball and moved near midfield once again before Thompson would come into punt. His kick was downed at the Susquehanna ten-yard line, the fourth punt he had downed inside the 20-yard line in the game.
Susquehanna could muster just one first down on a McGrath run before Hotaling punted.
The Greyhounds would start from the Susquehanna 32-yard line and move into the red zone on a pass from Lahue to freshman wide receiver Jason Fuehring. The drive stalled at the nine-yard line where Thompson came on and connected on a 26-yard field goal, his first of the season, to cut Susquehanna's lead to 24-11.
Each team went three-and-out on their next possessions before Susquehanna started from its own 28-yard line. McGrath would run four times on the drive, and he also caught a pass from Kolmer as McGrath would extend the Susquehanna lead with a seven-yard run. Hotaling's extra-point pushed the Crusaders' advantage to 31-11 with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
Moravian would punt on its next drive while Susquehanna turned the ball over one downs at the Moravian 25-yard line. On the Greyhounds first play, Tegan was hit by sophomore linebacker Adrian Bernard, and fumble with Bernard falling on the ball. McGrath would run six times to cover the 27 yards to the end zone with the final scoring run of three yards. Hotaling connected on another PAT to put the Crusaders ahead 38-11 with 10:23 left to play in the game.
Moravian turned the ball over on downs while Susquehanna punted in its last full possession of the game.
The Greyhounds started their final possession at their own 25-yard line. Lahue hit McLaughlin with an 18-yard pass on first down, and two plays later, the duo connected on a 21-yard completion. Lahue completed a 12-yard pass to McCarthy to move the Greyhounds to the ten-yard line, and three plays later, Tegan scored on a two-yard run. Thompson would add the extra-point to set the score at 38-18 with just 52 seconds to play.
Susquehanna would kneel down once to finish the game. The Crusaders finished the game with 403 yards on 69 plays with Kolmer completing 12-of-22 passes for 117 yards. Ritter caught three passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns while senior tight end Robbie Pryal added three catches for 31 yards. McGrath had 28 yards receiving on three receptions to go with his 202 rushing yards while freshman running back Tim Wade added 27 yards on four carries.
Moravian's offense ran 70 plays for 264 yards, and the Greyhounds held the time of possession at 31:01, the first game this season that Moravian has had the ball more than 30 minutes on offense. Lahue completed 13-of=32 passes for 173 yards with McLaughlin catching five passes for 102 yards, the first Moravian player to have 100-yards receiving since Shawn Sylvanis did it at Dickinson College on October 2nd, 2010. McCarthy caught three passes for 32 yards to go with five kickoff returns for 149 yards while Tegan had 42 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Sophomore running back Tom Froehlich led the Moravian rushing attack with 47 yards on 11 attempts.
Senior defensive back Rocco Del Priore led the Greyhounds' defense with nine tackles while senior defensive back Travis King added with tackles with one for loss and a pair of pass break-ups. King also returned two kickoffs for 34 yards and is now just 33 yards shy of breaking the school career record for kickoff return yardage. Freshman defensive lineman Adonis Cannon also had eight tackles for Moravian with three for loss while senior linebacker Luke Trexler and sophomore defensive back Rick Sinnig each had seven stops with one for loss.
Senior defensive back Jack McCarty led the Susquehanna defense with 12 tackles including a sack and a pass break-up while Bernard made 11 tackles with two and a half for loss, one sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Sophomore linebacker Jared Minori had seven tackles for the Crusaders.
Moravian starts a three-game road trip next week on Saturday, October 20th with a Centennial Conference game at Franklin & Marshall College kicking off at 1:30 p.m. in Lancaster.