"Today was a tale of two halves, and like I told our guys after the game, you have to learn from your success," commented Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "All-in-all, it was a win but we're going to see things tomorrow that we need to correct before next Saturday. We'll take the win on Homecoming, and getting to 6-1 in great for the program."
The Greyhounds improve to 6-1 overall and 5-1 in Centennial Conference action with their fourth straight win. The Hounds are in second place in conference play after today's other outcomes. Moravian also earned its first win on Homecoming since 2010 when the Blue and Grey defeated F&M.
"It's great to be in second place in the conference, and I'm proud of our guys," Pukszyn noted. "Now it is a chance for our guys to go 1-0 for another week, and I think the team has a great approach with that. The program has come from a far place to get to this point, and these guys really deserve the success that they are having this fall."
The Hounds rolled up 402 yards of offense in their opening 30 minutes of action, and Moravian had a total of 590 yards on 76 plays in the game including 291 on the ground and 299 through the air. The only thing that limited the Greyhounds' offense on Saturday was five fumbles lost.
Junior quarterback Mike Hayes, who ran for 29 yards on nine attempts, was 19-for-30 for 299 yards throwing the ball with two touchdowns to sophomore wide receiver Justice Anderson, who caught five passes for 91 yards. Junior wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio added four receptions for 31 yards while sophomore wide receiver Aaron Hudson, junior wide receiver Liam Nolan and senior tight end Andrew Racobaldo all had three catches with Hudson adding 68 yards and Nolan with 46 yards and Racobaldo with 32. Sophomore tight end Nick Nejad had one reception for 31 yards as Moravian had three pass plays and seven total plays longer than 30 yards.
Redmond finished with 103 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries. He eclipsed the 1,000-mark on a 42-yard run, and scored on a 39-yard rush on the next play. Redmond now has 1,091 yards in his career to rank 22nd in school history. Junior running back Chris Negron led the Moravian rushing attack with 159 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries as he moved into second all-time with 2,854 yards in his career. With both Redmond and Negron over 1,000 yards, it marks the first time since 1976 that the Greyhounds have had two 1,000 yard rushers in the backfield at the same time.
"Eli and Chris are two quality kids that compete really, really hard," stated Pukszyn. "I will say that the unsung hero of the running back group is senior Luke Gotzon. Luke taught these guys how to compete at a high level so Luke needs to get some credit for Eli's and Chris' work ethic. Now they feed off of each other and they compete hard. They are also each other's biggest fans out there.
"The line has done a phenomenal job," continued Pukszyn. "It only takes a crease for Eli and Chris to get loose, and they were able to find those creases today and hit it. When you have two explosive guys like that, just a little crease is going to make a big difference and that is what happened today. The line opened them up, and when Eli and Chris can have that vision and cut back ability that is God given, it makes everything look a little bit better."
The Greyhounds deferred the coin toss so Franklin & Marshall received the opening kickoff. The Diplomats would punt after three plays but got the ball right back when Hayes fumbled a handoff on a zone read play. Moravian's defense would hold inside the 10-yard line after the miscue as F&M settled for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 8:59 to play.
The Diplomats tried an onside kick but Anderson recovered the ball to set up a short field for the Greyhounds. Hayes hit Anderson with a 13-yard pass to begin the drive, and the duo hooked up again on a 3rd–and-7 play for a 30-yard touchdown down the right sideline giving the Hounds the lead. Senior Jerome Wachter drilled the extra-point for a 7-3 lead with 7:32 left in the opening quarter.
Moravian's offense wouldn't have much time to rest as freshman safety Nick Zambelli made his first career interception on the Diplomat's first play, and Zambelli's 13-yard return set the Greyhounds up at the F&M 44-yard line. The Hounds drove down to the Diplomat 18-yard line where the drive stalled. Wachter came out and connected on a career-long 35-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-3 with 5:10 on the clock in the first quarter.
After forcing F&M to punt after three plays, it took Redmond three plays himself to cover the 87 yards to the end zone. He took the handoff for Hayes for nine yards on the opening play, before bursting through a seam for 42 yards as he reached the 1,000-yard milestone. Redmond found another hole up the middle on the next play for run 39 yards into the end zone with his sixth rushing touchdown of the season. Wachter's extra-point pushed the Moravian lead to 17-3 with 2:35 left in the first.
"It is a great feeling to get to 1,000 yards," stated Redmond. "Both years that I've been here, I've had great offensive lineman that block their butts off. They do a great job throughout practice and the games. Coach McGorry puts in a good blocking scheme in practice; all five guys on the line executed the scheme really well. I saw a lot of green on those two long runs and just took off."
F&M needed just two plays to get the touchdown back as the Diplomats connected on a 74-yard pass to make it 17-10 with 1:29 still left to be played in the opening 15 minutes of action.
Moravian answered back on its next possession as Hayes connected with Anderson on a 27-yard touchdown on the right sideline again on third down play. Wachter split the uprights with his third extra-point of the game to push the lead to 24-10 with 14:46 to play in the second quarter.
The Diplomats punted on their next two possessions sandwiched around a punt by the Greyhounds. After the second F&M punt, Moravian took over at its own 15-yard line. Once the Hounds reached midfield, Negron burst through a hole and raced 47 yards to set the offense up at the three-yard line. Negron found a hole up the middle on the next play for his 12th rushing touchdown of the season. Wachter's fourth PAT of the afternoon made the Moravian lead 31-10 with 5:10 before the intermission.
Moravian forced another punt after three plays and took over at its own 33-yard line. The Greyhounds drove down into the red zone with just under a minute to play in the half when Hayes was sacked and fumbled the ball with F&M recovering. The Diplomats ran out the clock to end the first half.
The Blue and Grey had the ball to start the second half and drive 44 yards down the field before punting. F&M also punted on its first possession before Moravian turned the ball over on downs.
The Diplomats would drive into the red zone on the next possession, reaching the one yard line. However, the Greyhounds' defense stood tall and forced F&M to turn the ball over on downs. The Diplomats would score on Moravian's first play as they tackled Negron in the end zone for a safety.
F&M wasn't able to capitalize on the free kick, eventually punting to Moravian. Negron ran for 37 yards on the final play of the third quarter, and Hayes connected with Nejad to get into the red zone. Snyder-Scipio made a leaping catch but was stopped at the one-yard line to set up first and goal. Hayes was stopped on first down on the quarterback sneak attempt, and on second down, he tried to reach the ball over the pile but he had the ball knocked out of his hands before hitting the goal line as the Diplomats took over.
F&M moved down to the Moravian 25-yard line after the defensive turnover but the Diplomats ended up turning the ball over on downs. The Greyhounds turned the ball over again when Redmond was stripped but the Moravian defense held for four plays to get the ball back on downs.
The Hounds' offense used the defensive stop to put a drive together and move into the red zone for the fifth time of the game. When the drive stalled, Wachter connected on his second field goal of the afternoon, a 31-yard kick to extend the lead to 34-12 with 2:55 remaining. The last time Moravian has a player make two field goals in a game was Tyler Thompson on November 3, 2012.
"Jerome has done a phenomenal job, and he has a lot of confidence as well as the team having a lot of confidence in him," Pukszyn said. "Being able to get points on the board whenever and however you can is important especially against quality teams like F&M. Getting those field goals is really, really good for us right now."
The Diplomats went down the field in nine plays to score their second touchdown of the game with 26 seconds remaining, and F&M recovered an onside kick but the game ended on an incomplete pass.
F&M did gain 349 yards on 73 plays while controlling the ball for 32:57 of the game.
Freshman linebacker Owen Perih led the Moravian defense with 10 tackles including one for loss while senior safety Anthony Orlando had eight tackles and one pass break-up. Senior linebacker Brendan Downey and freshman linebacker Steve Ewald each made seven tackles with Ewald adding two tackles for loss and one sack while senior defensive end Dan Bracken added five stops with one sack. Sophomore defensive lineman Jordan Stout had three tackles in the game with two behind the line of scrimmage and one sack.
"I thought Steve Ewald played a really nice game today, and the secondary was good overall as well," noted Pukszyn. "I think Nick Zambelli stepped up with his first career interception."
Moravian will continue its three-game home stand on Saturday, October 31 when the Greyhounds host Gettysburg College in a Centennial Conference contest kicking off at 1:00 p.m. Saturday will also be Take a Kid to the Game at Moravian.