BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team finishes off the 2017 season with a Centennial Conference game at rival Muhlenberg College. Kickoff is slated for 1:05 p.m. at Frank Marino Field at Scotty Wood Stadium in Allentown.
TV-2 SPORTS BROADCAST: Saturday's game will be broadcast live by Service Electric TV-2 Sports with kickoff being moved back five minutes to accommodate the broadcast.
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 245 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 119-125-1 record.
Muhlenberg acting coach Corey Goff (Susquehanna '95) has a record of 6-3 in his first year. Goff served as an assistant coach for the Mules from 2000-05 and has been the school's Director of Athletics since 2012.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 66th in the series with Moravian holding a 33-30-2 advantage. Muhlenberg posted a 31-12 victory last fall in Bethlehem for its sixth straight win in the series, the Mules longest winning streak between the schools. The Greyhounds' last win in the series a 14-13 triumph in 2010 in Bethlehem.
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 2017 Centennial Conference preseason coaches and sports information directors poll while Muhlenberg was selected second with one first-place vote.
CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE HONORS: Freshman quarterback Doug Erney and senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson were honored by the Centennial Conference as the Football Offensive and Special Teams Athletes of the Week for their performances in the Greyhounds' 35-18 victory over Dickinson College at Rocco Calvo Field. Erney had the best day of his career throwing the ball for the Blue and Grey as he completed 13-of-19 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns. Erney threw scoring strikes of 27, 65 and 75 yards with the final touchdown to Hudson on the first play of the third quarter. Erney also ran the ball seven times for 40 yards with a long of 15 yards as he picked up 330 yards of total offense in just three quarters of action. Hudson had an outstanding Senior Day for the Greyhounds as he blocked a pair of extra-points by the Red Devils. Hudson lined up on the left end on all three PATs by Dickinson, and he got a hand on the first attempt to send it wide and fully blocked the second attempt right to the ground. Hudson's only reception of the afternoon was his 75-yard touchdown, his tenth career touchdown.
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 128-of-217 passes for 1,632 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Erney also has 472 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 101 attempts while being sacked 22 times. Senior Kordell Theadford is the backup this season and has completed 2-of-3 attempts in 2017 for 11 yards and a touchdown, and he has four carries for 15 yards. 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 117 carries for 494 yards and two touchdowns after posting the fifth 100-yard game of his career when the Hounds defeated Dickinson College, and he has 1,650 career yards and 11 touchdowns on just 316 carries. Junior tailback Frank Dangello has added 55 attempts for 180 yards while freshman Tavion George has 88 yards on 17 carries. Freshman running back Stephen Leyden has contributed four carries for 19 yards while senior fullback Jorden Stout, who has switched from defensive line to the backfield, has six carries for 18 yards. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has four carries for 29 yards and senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has five attempts for 10 yards. Sophomore defensive back Andrew Nieves picked up ten yards after scooping up a blocked punt versus Franklin & Marshall College.
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 32 receptions for 434 yards and two touchdowns after becoming the tenth player in school history to reach 100 career receptions versus Ursinus College. Freshman wide receiver Ricky Tate has 23 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown while sophomore Alex Pierce has 21 receptions for 305 yards and a touchdown after a career-best seven catches for 130 yards versus Dickinson College. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has caught 18 aerials for 310 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. while junior running back Eli Redmond has 14 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown this season. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has caught 12 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns while senior wide receiver Kyle Ferryman has three receptions for 17 yards. Senior fullback Jorden Stout has caught three passes for 19 yards while junior running back Frank Dangello has two receptions for four yards and a touchdown. Freshman running back Tavion George has one reception for three yards while senior wide receiver/defensive back Justice Anderson has one catch for 10 yards while seeing action on both sides of the field.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Moravian has three returners on the offensive line with senior left guard Mark Dignazio nd 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. Dignazio returned to the starting lineup versus Franklin & Marshall College.
DEFENSIVE FRONT: Freshman Shane Mastro leads the defensive line with 34 tackles with six tackles for loss, a sack and a pass break-up while junior Nick Tone has contributed 33 stops including three and a half tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Junior Vincent Pianoforte has made 28 tackles with five for loss and a sack this season while senior Vinny Caporrino has made 26 tackles with five stops for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Senior Fouad Haddad has contributed 24 tackles including one and a half tackles for loss while senior Connor Rooney has added 20 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. Sophomore Mike O'Hagan has contributed four tackles with a half a tackle for loss while 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 81 tackles to go along with five tackles for loss, an interception with a 20-yard return, two passes defended and a fumble recovery. Junior Dallas Owen has contributed 47 stops with three and a half tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a forced fumble while sophomore Joseph Milano returned after missing the season opener and has 36 tackles with a half a tackle for loss. Freshman Tanner Barr has added 32 tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass break-up in his debut season while freshman Brady Hornbaker has made 29 stops with three and a half tackles for loss, two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery in his first collegiate season. Senior Owen Perih has made 18 tackles with three for loss and a pass break-up while senior La-Ron Smith has added 10 tackles this season. Senior Will Russell has made four tackles and one pass break-up.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Freshman safety Jackson Buskirk, who missed the game at Gettysburg College due to an injury, leads the defensive backs with 64 tackles to go along with a tackle for loss, two interceptions and five passes defended. Junior safety Nick Zambelli has contributed 57 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 43 tackles, and interception returned 10 yards for a touchdown against Dickinson College and three passes defended after being a linebacker last season. Senior cornerback/wide receiver Justice Anderson has 38 tackles, a half a tackle for loss and five pass break-ups in his first year on defense after three seasons as a wide receiver while junior cornerback Jacob Kober has made 22 stops with one for loss, a blocked punt versus Franklin & Marshall College and a blocked extra-point against Dickinson this fall. Freshman cornerback Jalen Richardson has contributed 17 tackles, an interception, two passes defended and a fumble recovery while sophomore safety Andrew Nieves has 16 stops including two and a half for loss. Freshman cornerback Justin McRae has 11 tackles and a pass break-up this season while senior safety Tanner Mish has made four 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 20-for-20 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 34 times for an average of 52.0 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 34 times for an average of 34.2 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 18 times for an average of 34.3 yards with a long of 52 yards, four inside the 20-yard line, two fair caught and one touchback, and Brown has kicked off once on a free kick for 53 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson has returned 21 kickoffs for 429 yards while senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has 10 kickoff returns for 161 yards, and he blocked two extra-points versus Dickinson College. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has added four kickoff returns for 78 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 14 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 defensive back Jackson Buskirk has returned six punts for 18 yards while freshman running back Stephen Leyden has one punt return. Freshman tight end Austin Heisler has made seven tackles on special teams while senior fullback Stanton Santos has six 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 seventh in career receptions with 118, and he is tenth in receiving yards at 1,456. Hudson is tied for fourth in career kickoff returns with 46, and he is eighth with 729 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 1,650 rushing yards, and he needs 454 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 886 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 327.6 yards per game, and the squad is eighth in rushing offense with an average of 145.0 yards per contest and ninth in passing offense at 182.6 yards per outing. The Hounds are ninth in the conference in scoring offense at 18.8 points per game, and Moravian is seventh in points allowed at 29.3. Moravian's defense ranks eighth in the Centennial Conference at 418.4 yards allowed per game, and the squad is sixth in rushing defense at 158.9 yards per contest and eighth in passing defense at 259.6 yards allowed. The Greyhounds are tied for third in turnover margin at +0.33 per game with 12 turnovers committed and 15 turnovers gained through nine games. Freshman quarterback Doug Erney is tenth in the conference in rushing yards at 52.4 per game, and he is ninth in passing yards per contest at 181.3, seventh in total offense at 233.8 yards per game and fifth in pass efficiency with a 138.2 rating. Junior running back Eli Redmond is seventh in rushing yardage at 61.8 yards per contest while senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson is eighth in the conference with an average of 20.4 yards per kickoff return. Senior tight end/punter Aaron Brown ranks eighth in the Centennial Conference in punting with an average of 34.3 yards per punt while freshman wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is ninth in the conference in punting at 34.2 yards per punt. Junior kicker Jon Miller is tied for first in PAT percentage at 1.000 (20-for-20) and ninth in kick scoring at 3.2 points per game. Junior linebacker Steve Ewald is third in tackles in the conference with 8.4 per contest while freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk is ninth in tackles per game at 8.0 and tied for eighth in interceptions with 0.25 per game. Junior defensive back Nick Zambelli is 22nd in the Centennial Conference at 6.3 tackles per game, and he is tied for seventh in fumbles recovered with 0.25 per contest and tied for 12th in interceptions at 0.22 per outing while junior linebacker Dallas Owen is 30th at 5.9 tackles per outing. Sophomore defensive back Tim Valentine is tied for 32nd in the conference at 5.4 tackles per contest while sophomore linebacker Joseph Milano is 37th in tackles at 5.1 per outing. Junior defensive lineman Nick Tone is 45th 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 MUHLENBERG COLLEGE: The Mules enter the game at 6-3 overall and 5-3 in Centennial Conference action after a 39-14 win at Gettysburg College last Saturday. Freshman quarterback Michael Hnatkowsky is leading the Muhlenberg offense on the field having completed 128-of-208 passes for 1,677 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions, and he has also run for 133 yards and four scores on 60 attempts. Junior quarterback Matt Gibbon has also connected on 37-of-56 passes for 403 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. The top targets have been sophomore wide receiver Max Kirin, who has 41 catches for 465 yards and seven touchdowns, sophomore tight end Ryan Curtiss, who has 32 receptions for 404 yards and five scores, junior wide receiver Josiah Wright, who has 28 catches for 474 yards and three touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Kyle Wilczynski, who has added 21 receptions for 244 yards. Senior running back Nick Savant leads the Mules' rushing attack with 562 yards and six touchdowns on 77 carries in just five games due to injuries. Freshman running back James Diggs has run for 321 yards and a touchdown on 65 carries while senior running back Matthew Stickney has 243 yards and a score on 43 attempts. Freshman defensive back Brad Ramirez has returned 10 punts for 81 yards and 15 kickoffs for 291 yards while Kirin has six punt returns for 32 yards and freshman defensive back Daymon Fleming has seven kickoff returns for 142 yards. Sophomore kicker Todd Spirit is 21-for-25 on extra-points and 3-for-5 on field goals with a long of 35 yards while freshman kicker Brian Goodwin is 6-for-8 on PATs and 4-for-4 on field goals with a long of 30 yards. Sophomore Yanni Mitropoulos has kicked off 55 times for an average of 52.4 yards with three touchbacks while sophomore Joseph O'Hagan has punted 38 times for an average of 36.2 yards with a long of 56 yards, 18 inside the 20-yard line, two fair caught and a pair of touchbacks. Senior linebacker Jake Morra leads the Muhlenberg defense with 62 tackles including four for loss, two interceptions and five passes defended while sophomore linebacker Mickey Kober has 55 tackles with three and a half for loss. Senior linebacker Matt Musilli has made 48 tackles with four for loss, two sacks and a pass break-up while senior defensive back Amir Blair has contributed 47 stops with one pass break-up, one fumble recovery and three forced fumbles. Junior defensive back Michael Blank has added 46 stops with one for loss, one interception and five passes defended while sophomore linebacker Kwasi Ampomah has a team high eight and a half tackles for loss and eight and a half sacks among his 44 tackles, and he also has one pass break-up, one fumble recovery returned 29 yards and one forced fumble. Junior defensive back Nate Corvil leads the Mules with six interceptions including one returned for a touchdown, nine passes defended, two fumble recoveries for touchdowns, a forced fumble and 39 tackles including three for loss.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Bethlehem last fall, wide receiver Kyle Ferryman caught a pair of touchdown passes while linebacker Steve Ewald made 12 tackles and was named Moravian's Most Valuable Player of the game but it wasn't enough as the Greyhounds fell to rival Muhlenberg College, 31-12, in Centennial Conference action on the final day of the regular season at Rocco Calvo Field. Quarterback Mike Hayes completed 37-of-64 passes, both school record totals, for 337 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Hayes also ran for six yards on 10 carries. Running back Chris Negron ran for 97 yards on 17 carries as he finished the season with 1,020 yards, his third 1,000-yard season, on 208 carries with eight touchdowns. Negron also caught seven passes against Muhlenberg for 55 yards. Wide receiver Aaron Hudson caught nine passes for 65 yards to break the Moravian single season school record with 65 receptions on the season, passing Jeff Roy's mark of 62 set in 1994, and he also became the 19th player in school history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards. Wide receiver Liam Nolan also caught nine passes for 63 yards while wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio had four catches for 49 yards to finish his career with a school record 159 receptions. Ferryman contributed four receptions for 59 yards including his touchdown receptions while tight end Aaron Brown had three catches for 43 yards and punted five times for an average of 33.0 yards. Ewald paced the defense with his 12 tackles that included one sack while defensive back Noah Miller and linebacker Edward Delia each had 10 tackles. Defensive lineman John Snyder had six tackles to go with a sack and one and a half tackles for loss. Moravian received the opening kickoff and began at its own six-yard line. The Greyhounds would drive inside the five-yard line before Hayes was intercepted and had it returned 94-yards for a touchdown. The Hounds second drive ended with Kenny Kane's 25-yard field goal hitting the left upright. The Mules added another long touchdown pass to lead 14-0 at the end of the first quarter despite Moravian holding the ball for 12:07 of the opening quarter. Three plays into the second quarter, Hayes found Ferryman down the right seam for a 33-yard touchdown. Kane's extra-point was blocked to set the score at 14-6 with 14:05 left in the first half. Moravian's defense would make a stop on a fake field goal attempt on its next drive with a tackle by defensive back Chris Lott on the pass play. Moravian turned the defensive stop into a 94-yard, 12-play touchdown drive with Hayes finding Ferryman again with a 12-yard touchdown pass to the back right corner of the end zone. Moravian went for two but running back Roberto Diez was stopped to keep the Muhlenberg lead at 14-12 with 5:21 left in the second quarter. Muhlenberg looked to add points before the intermission but the Moravian defense made another fourth down stop in the red zone with Miller making the tackle on the one-yard line to send the teams to the locker room with the Mules leading 14-12. Muhlenberg added a field goal and a touchdown in the third quarter including turning another interception into points four plays later to lead 24-12 after 45 minutes of action, and the Mules scored three plays into the fourth quarter for the 31-12 advantage.