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Greyhounds Rally at Ursinus Comes Up Short

Nick Petros hauls in a pass and breaks a tackle for a 69-yard touchdown at Ursinus College.
Nick Petros hauls in a pass and breaks a tackle for a 69-yard touchdown at Ursinus College.

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team fell behind 13-0 before rallying; however, the Greyhounds fell to host Ursinus College, 21-14, in Centennial Conference action Saturday.

The Greyhounds, now 2-2 overall and 1-2 in Centennial Conference games, had 251 yards of offense on 48 plays with sophomore quarterback Doug Erney completing 11-of-16 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Nick Petros caught six passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, and he also punted six times with an average of 35.7 yards per punt with two inside the 20-yard line. Freshman wide receiver Eddie Olsen caught two passes for 13 yards and freshman wide out Cory Little had one reception for 16 yards.

Senior running back Eli Redmond led Moravian's rushing attack with 45 yards on 12 carries, and he caught two passes for 10 yards. Junior running back Robert Diez ran for 16 yards on five attempts while Erney had 13 yards on 15 carries. Redmond added one kickoff return for 16 yards while sophomore linebacker Tanner Barr returned two kickoffs for 28 yards.

Senior defensive lineman Nick Tone led the defense with 11 tackles including two and a half sacks while sophomore defensive back Jackson Buskirk had 10 tackles. Sophomore defensive back Justin McRae and senior defensive back Jacob Kober both had nine tackles in the contest with McRae breaking up a pass while sophomore defensive back Jalen Richardson made eight stops. Senior linebacker Nick Zambelli contributed seven tackles while sophomore defensive lineman Shane Mastro also had seven stops to go with a tackle for loss, a pass break-up and a forced fumble. Freshman linebacker Noah Breidinger added six tackles with one and a half for loss while sophomore linebacker Brady Hornbacker had four stops with a half a sack and one tackle for loss.

"Defensively, we just gave up too many big plays, especially some missed tackles where a two-yard gain ended up being 10 yards or more," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "I have to do a better job, and when we get to the ball, we need to be finishers. Offensively in the first half, I don't think we were able to move the chains and win first down consistently. The team battled really hard for the entire game. We weren't able to get the ball back to our offense defensively. It hurts when you can't steal possession. We have some learnable things to work on for next week."

A quickly played first quarter would see each team punting once and the Bears turning the ball over on downs just three plays into the second quarter. After another Moravian punt, Ursinus running back Stacey Gardner would cap a seven-play, 51-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run as the Bears took a 7-0 lead with 8:49 to play until halftime. Neither team was able to score in the remainder of the first half with Moravian's defense making a fourth down stop on the final play of the half.

The Greyhounds received the opening kickoff of the second half and moved down to the Ursinus 25-yard line before turning the ball over on downs as Erney's fourth down pass to Redmond fell incomplete. The Bears would turn the defensive stop into points as quarterback Thomas Garlick scored on a one-yard run. Ursinus missed the extra-point for a 13-0 lead with 7:50 to play in the third quarter.

Redmond opened the Greyhounds' next drive with a short run before catching a pass from Erney for a first down. On the next play, Erney found Petros down the Moravian sideline, and Petros shook off a tackle after the catch and finished racing the 68 yards into the end zone. Senior Jon Miller split the uprights to cut the deficit to 13-7 with 6:27 left in the third quarter.

"Nick is a really explosive player, and when we get the ball in his hands, I think he can do a lot with it, and he was able to run by two different defenders on his touchdowns," noted Pukszyn. "I'm proud of Nick for everything he does for the team from catching the ball, returning kickoffs, punting, being on the kickoff squad defensively and holding for extra-points and field goals. Being able to come up with two big touchdowns and concentrate when he's playing a lot of snaps, it says a lot about Nick."

The Bears would extend their advantage to 21-7 with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Garlick to Tom Cardozo and a two-point rush by Garlick with 6:55 remaining in the game.

Moravian would need just four plays to score again. Erney ran for 15 and three yards before Redmond raced to 12 yards to move the ball to the Ursinus 39-yard line. On the next play, Erney and Petros connected again, this time for 39 yards on a post pattern. Miller's PAT cut the deficit to 21-14 with 5:19 to play.

Ursinus would take the ensuing kickoff and run out the clock with three first downs.

"We need to do our job and finish tackles as we head into next week," Pukszyn said. "We need to prevent yards after the first tackle, and we need to break a few tackles on offense. I thought the team had a really good effort today, and we have the right guys."

The Greyhounds are scheduled to return to action on Saturday, September 29 when the squad hosts Gettysburg College in a Centennial Conference game kicking off at 1:05 p.m. at Rocco Calvo Field. The game will be the second of the season for the Hounds televised live by TV-2 Sports.