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Hounds to Host Ursinus for Homecoming on September 23

The Greyhounds' defense stops a McDaniel College running back in the 2017 home opener.
The Greyhounds' defense stops a McDaniel College running back in the 2017 home opener.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team is set to host Ursinus College in a Centennial Conference contest on Saturday, September 23. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. at Rocco Calvo Field in Bethlehem as the Greyhounds host their annual Homecoming game. Moravian is also hosting an ALS Awareness event on Saturday as the Greyhounds will help raise money for Pat's Posse in memory of Pat Malloy, a 1980 Moravian graduate and former Greyhound football player that passed away from ALS in the fall of 2016.

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THE COACHES: Jeff Pukszyn (Moravian '97) is in 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 239 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 117-121-1 record.
   Ursinus coach Peter Gallagher (West Virginia Wesleyan '93) has a record of 82-83 (.497) in his 16th year at the school.

THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 20th in the series with Moravian leading 11-7-1. The Greyhounds posted a 33-32 win in Collegeville last year, and Moravian snapped a four-game winning streak by Ursinus with a 31-3 victory in Bethlehem in 2015. The Bears last win was a 24-0 triumph in Collegeville in 2014. The series is tied at 5-5 since Moravian joined the Centennial Conference in 2007.

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. Ursinus was picked seventh 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 starting role after a lengthy quarterback battle during the preseason. He has completed 38-of-67 passes for 433 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Erney also has 243 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 41 attempts while being sacked 10 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.

IN THE BACKFIELD: Junior Eli Redmond leads the squad with 47 carries for 137 yards, and he has 1,293 career yards and nine touchdowns on just 246 carries. Freshman Tavion George has 46 yards on eight carries while junior tailback Frank Dangello has added four attempts for 18 yards. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has two carries for 19 yards and senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has two attempts for one yard. Senior fullback Jorden Stout, who has switched from defensive line to the backfield, has four carries for 13 yards.

THE WIDE RECEIVERS: The Greyhounds have had nine different players catch a pass with the group led by junior running back Eli Redmond, who has 10 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown this season. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson also has 10 receptions for 150 yards while Freshman Ricky Tate has six catches for 48 yards. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has caught three passes for 62 yards and a touchdown while senior tight end Aaron Brown has caught three aerials for 46 yards and a score. Sophomore Alex Pierce has two receptions for 27 yards while senior wide receiver Kyle Ferryman has two receptions for nine yards. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Justice Anderson has one catch for 10 yards while seeing action on both sides of the field, and junior running back Frank Dangello has one reception.

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 Zack 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 College game at left guard when Dignazio was injured, and Shields also started against McDaniel College and Johns Hopkins University with Dignazio sidelined. 

DEFENSIVE FRONT: Junior Nick Tone leads the defensive line with 20 tackles including two and a half tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Senior Fouad Haddad has contributed 11 tackles including a half a tackle for loss while senior Vinny Caporrino has made eight tackles with two stops for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Junior Vincent Pianoforte has made six tackles with two for loss this season while senior Connor Rooney has added five tackles, a half a tackle for loss and a pass break-up. Freshman Shane Mastro has contributed four stops with one tackle for loss while Sophomore Christian Coia has four tackles with two for loss. Senior Jorden Stout contributed two tackles before switching to the offensive side of the ball.

THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Junior Steve Ewald leads the linebackers with 29 tackles including one and a half tackles for loss while junior Dallas Owen has contributed 22 tackles with two tackles for loss. Sophomore Joseph Milano returned after missing the season opener and has 13 tackles. Freshman Tanner Barr has made eight tackles in his debut season while freshman Brady Hornbaker has made seven stops in his first collegiate season. Senior Owen Perih has three tackles this season.

THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Freshman safety Jackson Buskirk leads the defensive backs and the entire Moravian defense with 34 tackles to go along with a tackle for loss and two pass break-ups. Junior safety Nick Zambelli has contributed 20 stops, and interception and two passes defended while senior cornerback/wide receiver Justice Anderson has 20 tackles and two pass break-ups in his first year on defense after three seasons as a wide receiver. Sophomore cornerback Tim Valentine has 14 tackles and a pair of pass breaks up after being a linebacker last season. Junior cornerback Jacob Kober has made eight stops this fall while freshman cornerback Jalen Richardson has contributed five tackles. Sophomore safety Andrew Nieves has three stops including one and a half for loss while senior safety Tanner Mish has made two tackles with a half a tackle for loss. Freshman cornerback Justin McRae has one 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 is 4-for-4 on extra-points but was just wide left on a field goal attempts, and he has kicked off 11 times for an average of 52.8 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 14 times for an average of 35.5 yards with a long of 55 yards, five fair caught and four inside the 20-yard line, and he also has a fake punt that he ran 18 yards for a first down. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has punted three times for 15.7 yards with one inside the 20-yard line.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson has returned seven kickoffs for 186 yards while senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has four kickoff returns for 56 yards. Junior linebacker Dallas Owen has two returns for 25 yards while freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has added two kickoff returns for 37 yards. Junior running back Eli Redmond returned on kickoff for 20 yards while junior linebacker Steve Ewald has one return for 15 yards. Freshman defensive back Jalen Richardson has one return for 12 yards while senior defensive lineman Jorden Stout has one return for 13 yards. Freshman tight end Austin Heisler has made four tackles on special teams while sophomore full back Sal Pagano, senior fullback Stanton Santos and freshman wide receiver Ricky Tate all have one tackle on special teams this fall.

MILESTONE WATCH: The Greyhounds have five players closing in on milestones in their careers. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson needs four receptions to become the tenth player in school history with 100 career receptions, and he is already 17th in receiving yards at 1,162 and needs 281 yards to crack the top 10 all-time. Hudson is fifth in career kickoff returns with 40, and he is tenth with 624 kickoff return yards. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Justice Anderson has 909 receiving yards on 68 receptions and needs 91 yards to become the 20th player in school history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards. Junior running back Eli Redmond sits in a tie for 17th place in school history with 1,293 rushing yards, and he needs 811 yards to reach the top 10. Redmond is also tied for seventh all-time with 36 kickoff returns and seventh with 852 kickoff return yards. Senior tight end/punter Aaron Brown needs 1,456 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: The Greyhounds are tenth in the Centennial Conference in total offense at 303.0 yards per game, and the squad is seventh in rushing offense with an average of 158.7 yards per contest and tenth in passing offense at 144.3 yards per outing. The Hounds are ninth in the conference in scoring offense at 16.0 points per game, and Moravian is ninth in points allowed at 34.0. Moravian's defense ranks tenth in the Centennial Conference at 504.0 yards allowed per game, and the squad is sixth in rushing defense at 171.0 yards per contest and tenth in passing defense at 333.0 yards allowed. The Greyhounds are sixth in turnover margin at -0.11 per game with three turnovers committed and two turnovers gained through three games. Freshman quarterback Doug Erney is eighth in the conference in rushing yards at 81.0 per game, and he is eighth in passing yards per contest at 144.3, seventh in total offense at 225.3 yards per game and seventh in pass efficiency with a 122.8 rating. Senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson is first in the conference with an average of 26.6 yards per kickoff return while freshman wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is third in the conference in punting at 35.5 yards per punt. Junior kicker Jon Miller is tied for first in PAT percentage at 1.000 (4-for-4). Freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk leads the conference in tackles per game at 11.3 and tied for eighth in passes defended at 0.67 per contest. Junior linebacker Steve Ewald is fifth at 9.7 tackles per contest while junior linebacker Dallas Owen is tied for 12th in tackles at 7.3 per outing. Junior defensive lineman Nick Tone, junior defensive back Nick Zambelli and Anderson are all tied for 20th in tackles at 6.7 per game while sophomore linebacker Joseph Milano is 26th in the conference at 6.5 tackles per contest.

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 URSINUS COLLEGE: The Bears enter the game at 3-0 overall and 2-0 in Centennial Conference action after a 35-28 victory over Juniata College last Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Thomas Garlick leads the Ursinus offense on the field having completed 43-of-71 passes for 629 yards with fourth touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. His top targets have been junior running back Asa Manley, who has 11 catches for 149 yards, senior tight end Carmen Fortino, who has seven receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns, junior tight end Thomas Cardozo, who has caught six passes for 114 yards and a score, and sophomore running back Stacey Gardner, who has six receptions for 36 yards. Gardner leads the Bears' rushing attack with 406 yards and three touchdowns on 70 attempts while freshman Samuel Ragland has 185 yards and five touchdowns on 26 carries and Garlick has added 135 yards and one touchdown on 43 attempts while being sacked four times. Ragland has returned four kickoffs for 93 yards and three punts for four yards while freshman running back Kyle Wiggins has three kickoff returns for 50 yards and three punt returns for 15 yards. Freshman Alex DeSpirito is 2-for-3 on field goals with a long of 32 yards and 11-for-12 on extra points. DeSpirito has also punted 15 times for an average of 32.9 yards with six inside the 20-yard line and three fair caught. Sophomore linebacker Jacob McCain leads the Ursinus defense with 32 tackles including one and a half tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Senior defensive lineman Demarcus Henry has contributed 21 tackles with a half a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while sophomore defensive back Jack Springler has 17 tackles with one and a half for loss and a forced fumble. Senior defensive back Heath Hidlay has contributed 15 stops with two for loss, an interception he returned 22 yards and two passes defended while senior defensive back Jamie Casseus and senior linebacker Cody Richmond both have 14 tackles with Casseus adding two pass break-ups and Richmond making two stops for loss with one sack. Sophomore defensive lineman Nick Vandevere leads the Bears with three and a half tackles for loss. 

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Collegeville last fall, kicker Kenny Kane split the uprights with a 23-yard field goal with just 3:54 remaining to give Moravian a 33-32 win at Ursinus College in Centennial Conference action as the Greyhounds rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit. The one-point victory for the Greyhounds is the first for the program since a 14-13 win over Muhlenberg College in 2010. Moravian's offense picked up 407 yards on 87 plays while controlling the clock for 30:53 in the game. Quarterback Mike Hayes completed 33-of-51 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown, and his first two completions of the game gave him 430 for his career, breaking Sean Keville's career mark of 429. Wide receiver Aaron Hudson caught a team-high nine passes for 79 yards while wide receiver Liam Nolan had six receptions for 44 yards. Wide receiver Justice Anderson added four catches for 41 yards while wide receiver Kyle Ferryman caught four passes for 47 yards. Hayes also led the Moravian rushing attack with 68 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Chris Negron added 56 yards on 18 carries as he broke Chris Jacoubs' career rushing record of 3,854 yards with a 12-yard carry in the second quarter. Negron also caught five passes for 29 yards against Ursinus. Roberto Diez added 10 yards on three carries, and he caught two passes for 17 yards while defensive lineman Jorden Stout scored his third rushing touchdown of the season on his fourth attempt of the year. Moravian's defense allowed 401 yards but limited the Bears to just five yards rushing on 20 attempts. It is the second straight season that the Greyhounds held Ursinus to five yards rushing. Linebacker Ed Delia led the Hounds defense with 17 tackles including 10 solo stops and a pass break-up. Linebacker Owen Perih added nine stops while defensive back Nick Zambelli and defensive back Noah Miller each had eight tackles with Zambelli adding an interception he returned 16 yards. Defensive lineman John Snyder and linebacker Joseph Milano each had five tackles. The Greyhounds received the opening kickoff with Nolan returning the kick 70 yards into the red zone. Nolan had four kickoff returns for 137 yards in the game. However, a penalty led to Moravian turning the ball over on downs. The next four possessions ended in punts before Ursinus took over at the Moravian 45-yard line. The Bears would drive down and score but miss the extra-point for a 6-0 lead with 1:56 left in the first quarter. The Greyhounds were unable to move the ball and the Bears drove down and kicked a 30-yard field goal to extended the lead to 9-0 with 11:31 left in the second quarter. Moravian's next drive ended with Hayes sacked on fourth down but the Greyhounds would get ball right back when Zambelli made his third interception of the season, returning it 16 yards. The Greyhounds turned the miscue into points with Hayes running inside the right pylon for a four-yard touchdown. After a bad snap on the extra-point, quarterback Kordell Theadford picked up the loose ball and ran to the left and inside the left pylon for the two-point conversion to cut the Ursinus lead to 9-8 with 5:29 remaining in the second quarter. The Blue and Grey forced a punt on the next Ursinus possession but the Bears would extend their lead to 16-8 with an interception return for a touchdown on Moravian's first play.  Ursinus tried on an onside kick that failed. Moravian would move down and set up 34-yard field goal by Kane that bounced off of the crossbar as it went through to cut the Ursinus lead to 16-11 with 2:02 until the intermission.  The Bears added one more touchdown before halftime to head to the locker room with a 23-11 advantage. Ursinus started the second half with the ball and moved into the red zone before defensive back Khalil Raymond made an interception and returned it 36 yards near midfield. It was Raymond's second interception of the season, and he also had four tackles in the game. The Greyhounds moved down the field and scored on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Hayes to Hudson. Kane added the extra point as Moravian cut the deficit to 23-18 with 9:09 left in the third quarter. Ursinus would move past midfield on its next possession before the Greyhounds forced a short fourth down. The Bears looked to run a fake but the punter decided to kick the ball at the last second and Moravian defensive lineman Connor Rooney got a hand up to block the punt. The Hounds were unable to capitalize on the blocked punt but the defense would hold and force the Bears to kick as well. Moravian took over on its own 45-yard line with 2:21 to play in the third quarter, and the Hounds would take their first lead of the contest on the first play of the fourth quarter when Hayes scored on his second four-yard touchdown run of the game. The Greyhounds went for two but Hayes' pass was knocked down to keep Moravian's lead at 24-23. The Bears took the ensuing kickoff and moved into the red zone before the Greyhounds defense made a stop and forced a 20-yard field goal that put Ursinus ahead 26-24. The lead would grow larger one play into the Greyhounds' possession when Hayes was intercepted again with the return into the end zone for another pick six. The extra-point sailed wide and gave Ursinus a 32-24 lead with 9:18 remaining. Moravian wouldn't give up and marched down the field with Stout getting into the end zone on a two-yard run to cap a nine-play, 58-yard drive. Hayes came up short again on the two-point conversion pass as the Greyhounds cut the Ursinus lead to 32-30 with 6:51 left in the game. On the Bears' second play of their drive after a completion and a penalty, the ball ended up on the turf with Stout scooping up the ball and returning it eight yards to set the Moravian offense up at the 12-yard line. The Hounds picked up six yards before bringing Kane on for a 23-yard field goal with 3:54 to play. Kane, who is six-for-six on field goals this fall, gave the Greyhounds a 33-32 lead with the kick. Moravian's defense forced the Bears to punt after three plays with defensive lineman Nick Tone making his second sack of the game on third down. Hayes and the Hounds' offense would run out the clock as Negron picked up 15 yards for a first down and Hayes hit running back Ra'Von Burton for a nine-yard pass and another first down. Burton had two catchers for 19 yards. Hayes would kneel down twice to finish the game.