BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team starts a two-game home stand on Saturday, October 28 with a Centennial Conference game versus Franklin & Marshall College. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. at Rocco Calvo Field in Bethlehem.
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 243 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 118-124-1 record.
Franklin & Marshall coach John Troxell (Lafayette '94) has a record of 67-55 in his 12th year at the school.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 30th in the series with Franklin & Marshall owning a 21-8 advantage. The Diplomats earned a 24-17 win in Lancaster last fall while the Greyhounds posted a 34-19 victory in Bethlehem in 2015. Franklin & Marshall earned a win in the only postseason game between the two schools with a 37-20 victory in the 2004 ECAC Southwest Bowl in Lancaster. The Diplomats won the first eight games between the schools and 15 of the first 16 contests. Moravian holds a 7-5 lead in the last 12 games between the schools.
CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE HONORS: Moravian freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk and junior kicker Jon Miller were selected as the Centennial Conference Co-Defensive and Co-Special Teams Athletes of the Week for their performances in the Greyhounds' 20-17 win at Juniata College last Saturday. Buskirk had a pair of first half interceptions and finished with a total of three passes defended and three tackles. His first interception ended a Juniata scoring threat late in the first quarter as he picked the ball off at the Moravian 2-yard line for his first collegiate interception. With under two minutes to play in the first half, Buskirk made another interception at the Moravian 20-yard line and returned it 36 yards to the Juniata 44-yard line, setting up the Moravian offense for a drive that ended with a field goal to give the Greyhounds a 10-7 halftime lead. Miller kicked a career-long 34-yard field goal with four seconds left to give Moravian its first win of the 2017 season. Miller was 2-for-2 on field goals as he made an 18-yard kick with 12 seconds left in the first half to send the Hounds to the locker room with a 10-7 lead. He also connected on a pair of extra-points and kicked off five times for an average of 55.4 yards. Miller's winning kick is the closest to time expiring for the Greyhounds since Brian Reckenbeil made a 34-yard field goal to give the Hounds a 44-41 win at Johns Hopkins University in Moravian's first year as an associate member of 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 2016 Centennial Conference preseason coaches and sports information directors poll while Franklin & Marshall was selected third.]
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 102-of-179 passes for 1,236 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. Erney also has 378 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 79 attempts while being sacked 16 times. Senior Kordell Theadford is the backup this season and saw action for one series against Ursinus College. 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 91 carries for 364 yards and a touchdown after posting the fourth 100-yard game of his career when the Hounds hosted Ursinus College, and he has 1,520 career yards and 10 touchdowns on just 290 carries. Junior tailback Frank Dangello has added 41 attempts for 136 yards while freshman Tavion George has 88 yards on 17 carries. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has four carries for 29 yards and senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has five attempts for 10 yards. Senior fullback Jorden Stout, who has switched from defensive line to the backfield, has six carries for 18 yards.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS & TIGHT ENDS: The Greyhounds have had 11 different players catch a pass with the group led by senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson, who has 24 receptions for 328 yards and a touchdown after becoming the tenth player in school history to reach 100 career receptions versus Ursinus College. Freshman wide receiver Ricky Tate has 21 catches for 203 yards and a touchdown while sophomore Alex Pierce has 14 receptions for 175 yards while junior running back Eli Redmond has 13 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown this season. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has also caught 13 aerials for 257 yards and four scores after a career-best six catches for 137 yards against Susquehanna University that earned him a spot on the D3football.com Team of the Week on October 10. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has caught nine passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Kyle Ferryman has two receptions for nine yards. Senior fullback Jorden Stout has caught three passes for 19 yards while freshman running back Tavion George has one reception for three 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. Sophomore Tyler Maxsim made his first start of the season against Ursinus College after missing the first three games with an injury.
DEFENSIVE FRONT: Junior Nick Tone leads the defensive line with 33 tackles including three and a half tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery while senior Vinny Caporrino has made 21 tackles with four and a half stops for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. . Freshman Shane Mastro has contributed 21 stops with four and a half tackles for loss and a pass break-up while junior Vincent Pianoforte has made 20 tackles with five for loss and a sack this season. Senior Fouad Haddad has contributed 18 tackles including a half a tackle for loss while senior Connor Rooney has added 15 tackles, two and a half tackles for loss and a pass break-up. Sophomore Christian Coia has four tackles with two for loss, and freshman Andrew Stein also has four stops. Senior Jorden Stout contributed two tackles before switching to the offensive side of the ball.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Junior Steve Ewald leads the linebackers and the entire Moravian defense with 58 tackles to go along with five tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Junior Dallas Owen has contributed 46 stops with three and a half tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a forced fumble while freshman Tanner Barr has added 29 tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass break-up in his debut season. Sophomore Joseph Milano returned after missing the season opener and has 26 tackles with a half a tackle for loss while freshman Brady Hornbaker has made 22 stops with one and a half tackles for loss, two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery in his first collegiate season. Senior Owen Perih has made six tackles with a pair for loss while senior La-Ron Smith has made three tackles this season.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Freshman safety Jackson Buskirk, who missed the game at Gettysburg College due to an injury, leads the defensive backs with 54 tackles to go along with a tackle for loss, two interceptions and five passes defended. Junior safety Nick Zambelli has contributed 45 stops, one tackle for loss, one sack, two interceptions, five passes defended, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries while sophomore cornerback Tim Valentine has 42 tackles and a pair of pass breaks up after being a linebacker last season. Senior cornerback/wide receiver Justice Anderson has 31 tackles and three pass break-ups in his first year on defense after three seasons as a wide receiver while freshman cornerback Jalen Richardson has contributed 17 tackles and an interception. Junior cornerback Jacob Kober has made 15 stops this fall while sophomore safety Andrew Nieves has nines stops including two and a half for loss. Freshman cornerback Justin McRae has five tackles and a pass break-up this season while senior safety Tanner Mish has made two tackles with a half a tackle for loss.
KICKING GAME: Juniors Jon Miller and Kenny Kane are handling the place kicking duties for the Greyhounds this season. Miller is 13-for-13 on extra-points and 3-for-4 on field goal attempts with a long of 34 yards that won the game at Juniata College with four seconds to play, and he has kicked off 26 times for an average of 53.0 yards with a pair of touchbacks and one successful onside kick. 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 33 times for an average of 34.4 yards with a long of 60 yards, 10 fair caught, eight inside the 20-yard line and one blocked, and he also has a pair of fake punts that he has run for 27 yards and a pair of first downs. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has punted nine times for an average of 31.7 yards with a long of 52 yards, three inside the 20-yard line and one touchback.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson has returned 18 kickoffs for 366 yards while senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has nine kickoff returns for 139 yards. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has added three kickoff returns for 61 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. 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 seven tackles on special teams while senior fullback Stanton Santos has three tackles and has recovered a fumble on special teams this fall.
MILESTONE WATCH: The Greyhounds have five players closing in on milestones in their careers. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson is ninth in career receptions with 110, and he is 14th in receiving yards at 1,350 and needs 93 yards to crack the top 10 all-time. Hudson is fifth in career kickoff returns with 45, and he is eighth with 707 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 13th place in school history with 1,530 rushing yards, and he needs 573 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 1,218 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 ninth in the Centennial Conference in total offense at 322.1 yards per game, and the squad is eighth in rushing offense with an average of 145.6 yards per contest and ninth in passing offense at 176.6 yards per outing. The Hounds are ninth in the conference in scoring offense at 17.1 points per game, and Moravian is seventh in points allowed at 30.0. Moravian's defense ranks eighth in the Centennial Conference at 436.9 yards allowed per game, and the squad is sixth in rushing defense at 174.9 yards per contest and ninth in passing defense at 262.0 yards allowed. The Greyhounds are tied for fourth in turnover margin at +0.43 per game with nine turnovers committed and 12 turnovers gained through seven games. Freshman quarterback Doug Erney is 10th in the conference in rushing yards at 54.0 per game, and he is eighth in passing yards per contest at 176.6, sixth in total offense at 230.6 yards per game and seventh in pass efficiency with a 130.1 rating. Junior running back Eli Redmond is seventh in rushing yardage at 60.7 yards per contest while senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson is eighth in the conference with an average of 20.3 yards per kickoff return, and he is tied for 49th in tackles with 4.4 per game. Freshman wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is seventh in the conference in punting at 34.4 yards per punt while junior kicker Jon Miller is tied for first in PAT percentage at 1.000 (13-for-13) and eighth in kick scoring at 3.1 points per game. Freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk is fourth the conference in tackles per game at 9.0. Junior linebacker Steve Ewald is 10th in tackles with 8.3 per contest while junior linebacker Dallas Owen is tied for 18th at 6.6 tackles per outing. Junior defensive back Nick Zambelli is tied for 20th in the Centennial Conference at 6.5 tackles per game, and he is tied for third in fumbles recovered with 0.29 per game while sophomore defensive back Tim Valentine is 27th in the conference at 6.0 tackles per contest. Junior defensive lineman Nick Tone is tied for 43rd in tackles at 4.7 per game.
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 FRANKLIN & MARSHALL COLLEGE: The Diplomats enter the game at 6-1 overall and 5-1 in Centennial Conference action after a 56-0 win over Dickinson College last Saturday. Junior quarterback Tanner Erisman leads the F&M offense on the field having completed 120-of-182 passes for 1,519 yards with 18 touchdowns and three interceptions. Erisman has also run for 266 yards on 77 carries with six scores. His top passing targets have been junior wide receiver K.J. Pretty, who has 39 catches for 715 yards and eight touchdowns, senior wide receiver Dillon Alderfer, who has 29 receptions for 357 yards and four scores, senior running back Taalib Gerald, who has caught 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, sophomore wide receiver Kevin Lammers, who also had 14 receptions for 98 yards and two scores, and senior wide receiver Fortuanto Perri, who has 12 catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Gerald leads the Diplomats' rushing attack with 476 yards and six touchdowns on 126 carries while senior running back Taylor Collison has added 177 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts. Lammers has returned 11 kickoffs for 204 yards and eight punts for 95 yards while freshman wide receiver Brendan Dearing has nine kickoff returns for 229 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Harley Wedholm is 27-for-30 on extra points while sophomore Drew Tomlinson is 4-for-4 on field goals with a long of 31 yards and 1-for-3 on extra-points. Freshman Garrett Perschy has punted 28 times for an average of 34.6 yards, 11 punts inside the 20-yard line and three fair caught. Senior defensive back Ben Okun leads the F&M defense with 44 tackles to go with one and a half tackles for loss, an interception and three passes defended while senior defensive back Vincent Moffett has made 35 tackles with two for loss, an interception, two passes defended and a fumble recovery. Junior defensive lineman Joe Granahan has made 28 tackles with 11 and a half for loss, ten sacks, an interception, two passes defended, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery while junior linebacker Bobby McDevitt has 27 stops with three and a half for loss, one and a half saves, one interception, two passes defended and a fumble recovery. Senior defensive back Jeff Leone leads the Diplomats with seven passes defended including one interception, and he also has 20 tackles with one for loss while sophomore defensive back Marlen Fenstermacher has blocked a punt to go along with three passes defended and 21 tackles.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Lancaster last fall, Moravian out-scored host Franklin & Marshall College, 10-3, in the second half but it wasn't enough to overcome a first half deficit as the Greyhounds fell to the Diplomats, 24-17, in Centennial Conference action. Moravian was held to a season-low 268 yards on 68 plays with 175 yards coming on the ground. Quarterback Kordell Theadford came on in the third quarter when starter Mike Hayes was injured, and Theadford ran for a career-high 108 yards on 10 carries, and he completed 2-of-7 passes for nine yards and a touchdown. Hayes was 9-for-23 for 78 yards with an interception, and he ran for 20 yards on seven carries. Wide receiver Liam Nolan caught six passes for 61 yards and a touchdown as he became the ninth player in school history to reach 100 career receptions on his first catch of the game. Wide receiver Aaron Hudson added three receptions for 26 yards while running back Chris Negron had 36 yards and a touchdown on nine carries before missing most of the second half with an injury. Running back Roberto Diez had 10 carries for 20 yards. Defensively, the Greyhounds had three players with double-digit tackles led by Linebacker Edward Delia, who had 17 tackles with two and a half for loss and a forced fumble. Defensive lineman John Snyder had 12 stops with one for loss while defensive back Nick Zambelli had 11 tackles. Punter Aaron Brown was called on nine times for 347 yards with a long punt of 50 yards. F&M started with the ball and punted on its first two possessions while Moravian punted on its first two drive as well. The Greyhounds did have a first down on their opening possession of the game, and the Blue and Grey had three first downs on the second drive with Nolan catching his 100th pass for the initial first down of the second possession. Moravian would gain possession on F&M's third drive near midfield when Delia forced a fumble that defensive lineman Nick Tone recovering the ball. Negron finished off the three-play drive with a five-yard run after a game-long 23-yard run on the previous play. Kenny Kane added the extra-point to give the Greyhounds a 7-0 lead with 4:08 to play in the first quarter. The Diplomats scored on the first play of the second quarter, and after an interception, F&M took a 14-7 lead with 13:50 left in the first half. F&M added another touchdown on a pass with 5:43 before the intermission to take a 21-7 lead into the locker room. Moravian started the second half with the ball but would punt after one first down. The Diplomats punted after three plays while the Greyhounds picked up a first down on their next possession before punting. F&M went on a long drive and added a short field goal with 4:43 remaining in the third quarter to extend lead to 24-7. With Theadford in at quarterback, the Greyhounds would score on their next possession. Theadford ran for 40 yards on the second play of the drive and would get into the red zone before a third down pass fell incomplete in the end zone. Kane connected on a 24-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut Diplomats' advantage to 24-10. Moravian's defense held F&M to one first down and forced a punt. The Greyhounds took over at their own 20-yard line, and runs of 34, 14 and 12 yards by Theadford moved the ball just outside of the red zone. The Hounds would get a first and goal when F&M was called for a hold on a fourth down play. Two plays later, Theadford rolled out to his left and found Nolan with a seven-yard touchdown pass. Kane's extra-point cut the deficit to 24-17 with 8:53 to play. The Hounds defense eventually forced F&M to turn the ball over on downs with 4:22 remaining but Moravian was unable to move the ball and punted. The Diplomats would pick up two first downs to run out the clock.