BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team opens its 2017 home season and the 2017 Centennial Conference campaign on Saturday, September 9 when the Greyhounds host McDaniel College on Rocco Calvo Field with kickoff set for 1:05 p.m. with the game set to be telecast live on TV-2 Sports.
THE COACHES: Jeff Pukszyn (Moravian '97) is entering his seventh season as Moravian's head coach after ten years as an assistant coach with the program. Pukszyn joined the Moravian staff as a part-time coach in 1997 after a three-year playing career that saw him named to the All-Middle Atlantic Conference First Team in 1994 and 1996. He was also a two-time captain. Pukszyn became part of the coaching staff full-time in 1999 as defensive coordinator and added the titles of assistant head coach in 2001 and special teams coordinator in 2007. In 2015, Pukszyn led the Greyhounds to an 8-3 record and a berth in the inaugural Centennial-MAC Bowl Series while being named both the Centennial Conference and American Football Coaches Association Division III Region 2 Coach of the Year. He has been a part of 237 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 117-119-1 record.
McDaniel coach Mike Dailey is in his second season at the school and has a 4-7 overall record.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 22nd in the series with Moravian holding a 14-7 advantage after two straight victories. The Greyhounds recorded a 55-27 win last season in Bethlehem, and the Hounds also posted a 40-8 win on the road in Westminster, Maryland in 2015 to begin the Centennial Conference campaign. The Green Terror last defeated the Greyhounds in 2013 by a 21-14 score. McDaniel was formerly known as Western Maryland College but the name changed in 2002.
TV-2 BROADCAST: Saturday's game will be broadcast live by TV-2 Sports and will kick off at 1:05 p.m. Mike Zambelli will have the play-by-play with color commentary from Jim Wills.
GREYHOUNDS IN THE CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE: Moravian joined the Centennial Conference as an associate member in the sport of football in 2007. The Greyhounds were selected fifth in the Centennial Conference preseason coaches and sports information directors poll. McDaniel was picked eighth in the poll.
BALANCED & EXPERIENCED 'HOUNDS: Of the 78 players on the Moravian roster, 31 are freshmen, 18 are sophomores and 13 are juniors. There are 16 seniors on this season's squad, and the Greyhounds return 47 letterwinners and 14 starters.
THE QUARTERBACKS: Freshman Doug Erney earned the first start of the season after a lengthy quarterback battle during the preseason. He completed 16-of-29 passes for 212 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the season opener at King's College. Erney also has 131 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts while being sacked four times. Senior Kordell Theadford is the backup this season. Last fall, Theadford completed 23-of-48 passes for 296 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and he added 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 34 carries on the ground.
N THE BACKFIELD: Junior Eli Redmond leads the squad with 16 carries, and he has 1,156 career yards and nine touchdowns on just 215 carries. Freshman Tavion George has added one carry this year for 11 yards while freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has one carry for 18 yards and senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has two attempts for one yard. Also expected to see action in the backfield this year are junior tailback Frank Dangello, sophomore fullback Sal Pagano and senior fullback Stanton Santos. Sophomore Roberto Diez was expected to challenge Redmond for the starting roll but will miss the entire 2017 campaign due to an injury.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS & TIGHT ENDS: The Greyhounds have had six different players catch a pass with the group led by junior running back Eli Redmond, who has six catches for 34 yards this season. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has added three receptions for 48 yards while freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has caught two passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has also caught two aerials for 40 yards while sophomore Alex Pierce has two receptions for 27 yards. Freshman Ricky Tate has one catch for seven yards.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Moravian has three returners on the offensive line with senior left guard Mark Dignazio and sophomores right tackle Jason Barish and center Brett Poling back on the line. Sophomore left tackle Zach Cregar made his first career start at King's College while freshman PJ Weierbach earned the starting spot at right guard to give the Greyhounds' front five an average size of 6-1, 263. Sophomore Matt Shields came in during the first half of the King's game at left guard when Dignazio was injured.
DEFENSIVE FRONT: Junior Nick Tone leads the defensive line with eight tackles including one tackle for loss and one sack. Senior Fouad Haddad has contributed with four tackles including a half a tackle for loss while junior Vincent Pianoforte has made three tackles with one for loss this season. Senior Jorden Stout has contributed two tackles while senior Vinny Caporrino has made one tackle with a stop for loss and a pass break-up and senior Connor Rooney has a pass break-up.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Junior Steve Ewald leads the linebackers with 11 tackles including a half a tackle for loss while junior Dallas Owen has contributed nine tackles. Freshman Tanner Barr has made seven stops in his first collegiate season while freshman Brady Hornbaker has two tackles.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk leads the defensive backs and the entire Moravian defense with 12 tackles to go along with one pass break-up. Senior defensive back Justice Anderson has eight tackles and a pass break-up in his first year on defense after three seasons as a wide receiver while junior defensive back Nick Zambelli has three stops. Freshman defensive back Jalen Richardson has contributed two tackles while sophomore defensive back Tim Valentine and freshman Justin McRae each have a tackle and a pass break-up this season.
KICKING GAME: Juniors Jon Miller and Kenny Kane are handling the place kicking duties for the Greyhounds this season. Miller connected on his only extra-point attempt but was just wide left on a field goal attempts, and he has kicked off six times for an average of 53.8 yards with one touchback. Kane is 2-for-2 on field goal attempts with a long of 23 yards, and he has had his only extra point attempt blocked in 2017. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has punted three times for an average of 29.3 yards, and he also has a fake punt that he ran 18 yards for a first down.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior defensive back Justice Anderson has returned two kickoffs for 65 yards while junior linebacker Dallas Owen has two returns for 25 yards. Junior running back Eli Redmond returned on kickoff for 20 yards while junior linebacker Steve Ewald has one return for 15 yards and senior defensive lineman Jorden Stout has one return for 13 yards. Freshman tight end Austin Heisler, sophomore full back Sal Pagano, senior fullback Stanton Santos and freshman wide receiver Ricky Tate each have one tackle on special teams this fall.
MILESTONE WATCH: The Greyhounds have four players closing in on milestones in their careers. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson needs 11 receptions to become the tenth player in school history with 100 career receptions, and he is already 18th in receiving yards at 1,070 and needs 373 yards to crack the top 10 all-time. Hudson is also tied for sixth in career kickoff returns with 36, and he needs 45 yards added to his 568 kickoff return yards to reach the top ten. Junior running back Eli Redmond sits in 20th place in school history with 1,156 rushing yards, and he needs 948 yards to reach the top 10. Redmond is also tied for sixth all-time with 36 kickoff returns and seventh with 852 kickoff return yards. Senior tight end/punter Aaron Brown needs 1,503 yards to reach the top ten in career punting yardage. Junior kicker Kenny Kane is tied for ninth in school history with nine career field goals, and he needs four extra-points and one total point to reach the top ten in those categories.
THE CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE STATISTICAL RANKINGS: Starting next week, the Centennial Conference will release weekly statistical rankings of the ten football playing schools.
OVERTIME 'HOUNDS: Moravian has played a total of 10 overtime games since the NCAA instituted the rule for the 1996 season and is 7-3 all-time in the extra-session. Five of those ten overtime games have been against Juniata College with the Greyhounds going 4-1 in those games. Moravian's contest in Huntingdon in 2008 marked the first time in the Greyhounds' have needed more than one overtime session in a game. The 2008 season also marked the third year that Moravian has played at least two overtimes games in one season, the other years were 1999 when the Greyhounds played three overtime games and 1997 when Moravian played two overtime contests.
SCOUTING MCDANIEL COLLEGE: The Green Terror enter Saturday's game at 1-0 after defeating The Catholic University of America, 30-10, last Saturday. Senior quarterback Will Koester leads McDaniel on the field and has completed 12-of-17 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns while running for two yards on two carries. Senior wide receiver Bamasa Bailor has three catches for 70 yards and a touchdown while senior wideout Breon Herbert has three receptions for 60 yards and a score. Junior wide receiver Davon Ingram has contributed two catches for ten yards while junior wideout Joe Yearby III has one catch for 15 yards. Senior running back Perry Stefanelli has a team leading 146 rushing yards and a touchdown on 26 carries while junior running back Matt Cathey has run for 136 yards on 24 attempts. Senior kicker Spencer Wiersberg has connected on three field goals with a long of 31 yards and three extra points for 12 points while junior Joey Cornwell has punted four times for an average of 35.8 yards with one fair caught and one inside the 20-yard line. Senior running back Isaac Murray has returned two kickoffs for 55 yards while sophomore wide receiver Matt Schleifer has six punt returns for 78 yards. Senior defensive lineman Ray Doh leads the Green Terror defense with seven tackles including three and a half for loss and two sacks while senior linebacker Drew Scott has made five tackles with one for loss. Senior defensive back Brenden Clinton has four stops while senior defensive lineman Markos Katrakazis has added three tackles with one for loss.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Bethlehem last September, Moravian opened its 2016 Centennial Conference season with a 55-27 victory over McDaniel College at Rocco Calvo Field as the Greyhounds set two team records and had three seniors – running back Chris Negron, wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio and quarterback Mike Hayes break records as well. The Greyhounds had a school record 673 yards of total offense on 80 plays, and Moravian picked up a school record 34 first downs. The previous total offense mark was set in 2015 with 591 yards versus Franklin & Marshal College on October 24 while the previous mark of 31 first downs was set on October 30, 1976 at Johns Hopkins University. Moravian's offense had a balanced attack against the Green Terror with 372 rushing yards on 54 attempts and 301 passing yards on 26 passes, and for the second straight week, the Hounds scored on six straight possessions to begin the game. It was also the second consecutive week that the Blue and Grey have not punted until the second half of the game. Negron broke three school records as he picked up 167 yards on 16 carries including touchdowns of 11 and five yards, and he also caught two passes for 11 yards with a 5-yard touchdown catch. The two rushing scores give Negron a school record 34 rushing touchdowns in his career, and he also now has the school career records for overall touchdowns with 38 in 33 games and 228 total points. Negron is second all-time with 3,618 career rushing yards on 688 attempts, and he needs just 237 yards for that school record. Snyder-Scipio grabbed a team-high five passes for 72 yards and a 33-yard touchdown. On the play before reaching the end zone, Snyder-Scipio caught his 141st career pass to break the Greyhounds' career mark, and he now has 143 receptions for 1,619 yards, tied for fifth all-time, and 14 touchdowns, tied for third. Hayes set a school record for completion percentage in a game at 90.9 as he completed 20-of-22 passes for 265 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Hayes connected with seven different receivers, and threw touchdowns of 13, 33 and five yards. Hayes sits in fifth place in school history with 4,517 yards, 35 touchdowns, 373 completions and 638 attempts in his third year as a starter, and he also is fourth in school history with 5,037 yards of total offense. In last year's game, Hayes also ran the ball seven times for 51 yards including a two-yard touchdown, and he was sacked twice. Hayes played just one series in the second half before Kordell Theadford came on. Theadford completed 2-of-3 passes for 36 yards, and he added 40 yards on three rushing attempts including a 7-yard touchdown to finish off the scoring in the game. Wide receiver Justice Anderson had four receptions for 77 yards while wide receiver Liam Nolan caught four passes for 44 yards including a 13-yard touchdown. Wide receiver Aaron Hudson pulled in three receptions for 40 yards while tight end Aaron Brown had two catches for 39 yards and punted once for 42 yards. Running back Roberto Diez added two catches for 28 yards through the air, and he ran for 67 yards on 12 carries with a 6-yard touchdown scamper. A.J. Adamczyk picked up 26 yards on 11 carries while Hudson had one attempt for 25 yards. Running back Ra'Von Burton added 11 yards on two carries while defensive lineman Jorden Stout had two yards on one carry and punted once for 43 yards with the ball rolling out at the 1-yard line. Moravian's defense had four takeaways with linebacker Edward Delia intercepting a pass for the second straight week. Delia also recovered a fumble to go with six tackles while defensive back Noah Miller made a diving interception two go with two stops. Linebacker Owen Perih led the Greyhounds with seven tackles and a forced fumble while linebackers Steve Ewald and Dallas Owen each made five tackles with Ewald adding one of Moravian's four tackles for loss. Moravian received the opening kickoff and needed just 1:15 and four plays to cover 65 yards to the end zone with Hayes scoring on a 2-yard run. Kenny Kane kicked the first of his school-record tying seven extra-points in the game. The lead would only last 14 seconds as McDaniel returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The Hounds moved back in front for good when Negron dove into the pylon to finish off an 11-yard run. The score finished off a 7-play, 69-yard drive. Moravian pushed the lead to 21-7 with 4:03 left in the first quarter when Hayes connected on a 13-yard touchdown with Nolan. After the Green Terror scored on a short pass on the first play of the second quarter, Moravian scored three more times before the intermission. Hayes hit Snyder-Scipio with a 33-yard touchdown as Snyder-Scipio broke two tackles on the play before Negron broke the rushing touchdown record on a five-yard run with 7:14 before halftime. After Delia's interception, Moravian had a short field with Diez capping the drive with his first career touchdown at the 5:58 mark. Negron grabbed a 5-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to make the lead 49-14. McDaniel would score next but the Green Terror would only get six points as defensive lineman Nick Cregar blocked the extra-point. Moravian's final points came on Theadford's 7-yard run towards the left pylon. The Green Terror blocked the extra point by Kane, and McDaniel finished off the scoring with 6:49 remaining in the contest.