WESTMINSTER, Md. --- Junior running back Chris Negron ran for 143 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries and junior quarterback Mike Hayes completed 7-of-15 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Moravian College football team to a 40-8 victory at a rain-soaked McDaniel College Saturday afternoon in Centennial Conference action.
The Greyhounds improve to 2-0 on the season and open their conference at 1-0 for a second straight fall, and sat through a 30-minute delay midway through the first quarter due to lightning.
"This conference is so tough that I don't know if there is a bottom and everyone is after each other every week so getting a win isn't easy and starting the conference slate with a victory is big," commented Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "I'm really excited for the players, Moravian College and our Moravian football family. It's a long trip and the rain made it a long day but it is good to be heading to the bus trip home at 2-0. I'm proud of the guys."
Moravian took the opening kickoff and would drive down the field to take a 6-0 on a 13-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Eli Redmond with 12:57 left in the opening quarter to cap the seven-play, 71 yard drive. On the extra-point attempt, a high snap ended up in the hands of senior defensive back Jimmy McCarthy. His pass attempt was intercepted by Garret Deihl and nearly returned for a defensive conversion.
McDaniel would punt on its first possession, pinning the Hounds inside the 5-yard line, and Moravian's drive ended in a punt.
The Moravian defense would hold on the short field the Green Terror had and force a 38-yard field goal by Mike Casper to cut the Hounds lead to 6-3 with 7:21 left in the first quarter. Before McDaniel could kick off, a lightning delay forced a 35-minue stop to the game.
The teams traded punts before Moravian had a drive end when Hayes was hit on a pass attempt and fumbled. Moravian's defense held once again as the Green Terror managed just a 25-yard field goal by Spencer Wiersberg with 47 seconds left in the first quarter to knot the score at 6-6.
Moravian put together a 73-yard drive over 18 plays on its next possession but the drive ended when Redmond was tripped up at the one-yard line on fourth down.
The Greyhounds defense stood tall again and forced a punt after three plays. After a punt return from junior defensive back Noah Miller and a penalty, the Moravian offense took over at the McDaniel 19-yard line. On second down, Hayes broke through the left side for a 14-yard touchdown run. Junior Jerome Wachter added the extra-point for a 13-6 lead with 7:01 left in the second quarter.
The teams traded punts once again before the Green Terror took over on its own 40-yard line. After forcing a punt, Moravian freshman wide receiver Josh Williams came through the left side and blocked the punt attempt, and senior running back Luke Gotzon jumped on the loose ball for the Hounds. It was Moravian's first punt block sine Rees Judge blocked a kick against Susquehanna during the 2012 season.
Moravian needed just two plays to extend the lead when Hayes found sophomore wide receiver Aaron Hudson with a 12-yard touchdown strike, Hudson's first career touchdown reception. Wachter's extra-point snuck over the crossbar to give the Hounds a 20-6 lead with 2:41 before the intermission.
"We didn't let any of the weather affect us today, and we're going to try and control the ball in the weather," noted Pukszyn. "Mike did a really good job of keeping his eyes downfield and being patient and poised. Mike is smart, and he is like our point guard out on the field. He has a lot of good people around him on the field and is able to distribute the ball to them."
McDaniel was driving down the field and into the red zone before Moravian senior defensive back Dan Bracken jumped on a loose ball and ended the drive with a fumble recovery to send the Hounds to the locker room with a 20-6 lead.
After forcing McDaniel into a three-and-out on the opening possession of the second half, the Hounds would go 39 yards on five plays with Negron finding the end zone with a five-yard touchdown run through the middle of the line. On the extra-point attempt, another bad snap had the ball rolling around the turf when McDaniel's Wayne Long took a pitch the distance for a defensive conversion to make the score 26-8 Moravian with 11:23 to play in the third quarter.
Negron picked up his eighth career 100-yard game as he became the 10th player in school history to reach 2,000 career yards, now with 2,141 yards on 418 carries. Negron, who also caught one pass for seven yards, also has 20 career touchdowns for 120 points.
"It was great to see for Chris to get over 100 yards today," Pukszyn stated. "All the running backs work hard for coach Bob McClarin, and Chris did a really good job today with his vision. The run he scored on he took from one c-gap to the opposite d-gap. Chris and all of the running backs give us a spark."
The Greyhounds would force another punt after three plays and take over at the McDaniel 40-yard line after a penalty. Hayes needed just one play to find pay dirt as he hit Redmond streaking down the field for a 40-yard touchdown pass. Wachter made the extra-point to push the lead to 33-8 with 9:40 left in the third quarter.
It was Redmond's only catch of the game, and he added 57 yards and a touchdown on 11 rushing attempts.
Moravian forced another punt after three plays but would give the ball right back after two plays on a fumble. The Greyhounds defense would hold and force a turnover on downs in the red zone to keep the Green Terror from scoring.
The Hounds found the end zone for the last time in the fourth quarter as Hayes hit junior wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio in stride with a 32-yard touchdown pass down the right side. Wachter added the extra-point for a 40-8 lead with 10:32 left.
With the catch, Snyder-Scipio moved into eighth in school history with 91 career receptions, and he is 16th in school history with 1,071 receiving yards in his career.
The Greyhounds found themselves in the red zone one more time after freshman linebacker Owen Perih intercepted a pass and returned it 26 yards. However, another bad snap on a field goal attempt would have the ball go back to the Green Terror.
Late in the fourth quarter, Moravian was able to get some of its freshman and younger players onto the field for some playing time.
"It is always a positive to get those younger guys some snaps in game situations," Pukszyn said. It gives us a chance to get them on film in game situations and in turn a chance to coach them more off tape since we can see them outside of the context of practice."
Moravian's offense racked up 384 yards on 80 plays including 261 yards on the ground. In addition to Negron and Redmond, Gotzon ran for 36 yards on eight carries while Hayes had 26 yards and a score on nine attempts. Freshman Josh Dixon added 13 carries on four attempts in his first career action while freshman quarterback Anthony Messenger had seven yards on two carries in his first action with the Greyhounds.
The Hounds defense limited McDaniel to 247 yards on 85 plays and forced 10 punts in the game. Junior linebacker Edward Delia led the defense with seven tackles while senior defensive back Anthony Orlando made six stops. Freshman linebacker Steve Ewald made five tackles with a sack for a loss of 15 yards while junior defensive lineman John Snyder and senior linebacker Brendan Downey both had five tackles.
"It was good to get Ed Delia some quality snaps today," commented Pukszyn. "The defensive front, whichever four guys we have out there since we rotate a lot of guys up there, played well and controlled the line. Anthony had another outstanding game and is really another coach out on the field, and I think Steve Ewald played a tremendous game and showed some of what he is capable out there today when he can play in space, especially on his sack."
Moravian will return to action on Saturday, September 19 when nationally-ranked Johns Hopkins University comes to Rocco Calvo Field for the Hounds home opener. Kickoff for the annual Family Day game is set for 2:00 p.m.