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Hounds Use Strong Debut From Mills to Race Past Gettysburg, 59-23

Freshman quarterback Christopher Mills attempts a pass early in the first quarter of his first collegiate start versus Gettysburg College.
Freshman quarterback Christopher Mills attempts a pass early in the first quarter of his first collegiate start versus Gettysburg College.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College freshman quarterback Christopher Mills make his first career start one to remember as he connected on 12-of-13 passes for 336 yards and a school record five touchdowns in the first half as the Greyhounds raced out to a 45-0 lead en route to a 59-23 victory over Gettysburg College in Centennial Conference action Saturday at Rocco Calvo Field.

"Chris did very well today too," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn, who has the Greyhounds at 3-2 overall and 2-2 in Centennial Conference action at the midpoint of the 2018 season. "He didn't force anything and the offensive line did a great job protecting him today."

Mills tossed four of his TD passes to sophomore wide receiver Nick Petros, who had school records of 241 yards receiving, breaking the school mark of 222 set by Dale Houser in 1984, and four touchdowns. Petros snagged passes of 78, 69, 34 and 33 yards for touchdowns in the first half from Mills. Senior kicker Jon Miller would get into the records as well with a school mark of eight extra-points, and he added a career-long 37-yard field goal to score 11 of the Hounds' 59 points.

"Nick had a great game," commented Pukszyn. "He made the most of his opportunities today. He is a great athlete who can be a difference maker in a game and it showed today."

Freshman wide receiver Eddie Olsen caught Mills' other scoring strike of 29 yards, and Olsen finished with two catches for 39 yards while junior wide receiver Alex Pierce had three receptions for 48 yards. Sophomore fullback Andrew Stein had one catch for 12 yards while senior wide receiver James Pierce had one reception for eight yards and freshman wideout Cory Little had one catch for five yards. Sophomore quarterback Doug Erney completed 2-of-5 passes for 17 yards.

Moravian ran for 215 yards on the ground with freshman Gerald Grube recording his first career 100-yard game with 104 yards on 13 carries that included a 72-yard run in the third quarter. Junior running back Roberto Diez added 74 yards on 14 attempts while senior Eli Redmond picked up 36 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Mills added four yards on three attempts while senior Devon Bucks had one yard on two carries.

Mills and the Moravian offense racked up 568 yards on 60 plays while the Greyhounds' defense limited the Bullets to 381 yards on 92 plays while forcing six turnovers including five interceptions. Senior linebacker Dallas Owen and sophomore defensive back Jalen Richardson each had two interceptions with Owen returning one 50 yards for a touchdown while sophomore defensive back Renard Nicholson had an interception. Sophomore defensive lineman Sean Agar recovered a fumble for the Greyhounds.

Freshman linebacker Noah Breidinger led the Moravian defense with eight tackles including a half a tackle for loss while senior defensive lineman Nick Tone had seven stops with a half a tackle for loss. Senior linebacker Tanner Stokes and sophomore linebacker Tanner Barr both had six tackles with Stokes adding a pass break-up while Richardson, freshman defensive lineman Tijir Bleam, senior linebacker Nick Zambelli and freshman linebacker Blake Reed each had five stops. A total of 30 different Greyhounds had tackles in the game.

"Defensively it was good to see the turnovers and it's great to get a score on D," Pukszyn said.

The game had an auspicious start for the Greyhounds with Diez fumbling on the first play after the opening kickoff. However, Moravian's defense would hold in the red zone with Breidinger and Zambelli stopping Gettysburg quarterback Mike Welsh for no gain on a fourth-and-one at the seven-yard line.

"I'm very proud of how the kids responded after a tough loss last week," noted Pukszyn. "The 4th and goal stand was great to see after the fumble. We played well in all three phases in the first half."

The Greyhounds took over deep in their own territory, and after a pair of Diez runs, Mills connected on his first career pass attempt for 10 yards to Alex Pierce. After another run by Diez and a completion to Pierce, Mills found Petros with a 69-yard catch-and-run touchdowns as the Blue and Grey took a 7-0 lead with 9:47 to play in the first quarter.

After the teams traded punts, Richardson came up with his first interception of Welsh to set the Moravian offense up at its own 22-yard line. Mills needed one play to get the Hounds back on the scoreboard as he found Petros with a 78-yard score that saw Petros shake off a tackler as he made the catch before racing to the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 6:03 left in the first.

Richardson would intercept Welsh two plays into the Bullets' next drive, returning the ball 22 yards to midfield. Mills capped the five-play drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Olsen on a slant play as the Greyhounds extended the lead to 21-0 with 2:52 to play in the opening quarter.

The Greyhounds would bring Miller on to connect on a career-long 37-yard field goal attempt 3:30 into the second quarter as Moravian pushed the lead to 24-0.

Owen would break up the next Gettysburg drive when he grabbed a tipped pass and returned the interception 10 yards to the Gettysburg 43-yard line. Diez carries the ball twice before Mills and Petros connected again for a 34-yard touchdown pass. Miller made the fourth of his PAT kicks for a 31-0 lead with 8:25 left before the intermission.

Later in the quarter after a fourth down stop, Redmond would cap a four-play, 34-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run, his first score of the season as the Blue and Grey's lead expanded to 38-0 with 1:07 left in the quarter.

Moravian's defense forced another quick turnover on downs, and Mills finished the first half with a 33-yard scoring strike to Petros with just two seconds before the intermission as the Greyhounds headed to the locker room with a 45-0 lead.

The Bullets had the ball first in the second half but punted; however, they would get the ball back after a fumble by Grube.

The Hounds would score four plays into the Gettysburg possession as Owen intercepted another tipped pass and raced 50 yards down the near sideline for a touchdown that gave the Greyhounds a 52-0 advantage.

Gettysburg would get on the scoreboard on its next possession as Justin Geisel hit a 26-yard field goal.

Moravian answered back with its final points of the game as Grube ran for three yards before finding a hole on the right side and bouncing out to the far sideline for a 72-yard touchdown run. Miller's record-setting PAT game the Greyhounds a 59-3 lead with 6:23 remaining in the third quarter.

While the Hounds began to empty the bench, Gettysburg would score 20 points with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of field goals over the final 10:48 of the contest to close the final to 59-23.

Moravian is slated to return to action on Saturday, October 6 in a Centennial Conference game at Susquehanna University beginning at 1:00 p.m. in Selinsgrove.