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Mills TD Pass to Pierce Leads Hounds Past Susquehanna in Final Seconds

Junior running back Roberto Diez takes a handoff from freshman quarterback Christopher Mills in the Greyhounds win at Susquehanna University.
Junior running back Roberto Diez takes a handoff from freshman quarterback Christopher Mills in the Greyhounds win at Susquehanna University.

SELINSGROVE, Pa. --- Freshman quarterback Christopher Mills hit junior wide receiver Alex Pierce with a seven-yard scoring strike with just 17 seconds to play as the Moravian College football team rallied for a 21-18 victory over host Susquehanna University in Centennial Conference action Saturday at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field.

The Hounds head into the bye week with a 4-2 overall record and a 3-2 slate in Centennial Conference contests.

Mills, making just the second start of his career, completed 21-of-33 passes for 205 yards with a touchdown and an interception as Moravian racked up 345 yards of offense on 74 plays, and the Greyhounds held the ball for 23:11 of the second half and a total of 35:18 minutes on the afternoon.

Junior wide receiver Nick Petros had his third straight 100-yard receiving game with 138 yards on a career-high 12 receptions, tying for the second most by a Moravian receiver in a contest in school history. Petros also punted six times for an average of 33.0 yards per punt. Freshman wide receiver Cory Little caught four passes for 28 yards while Pierce added three receptions for 23 yards with his touchdown and freshman wide receiver Eddie Olsen had one catch for 15 yards.

Junior running back Roberto Diez led the Moravian rushing attack with 84 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, and he caught one pass for a yard while Mills ran right times for 27 yards and was not sacked in the game. Freshman running back Gerald Grube added 23 yards on seven carries while senior running back Eli Redmond had six yards on four attempts.

The Greyhounds' defense limited the River Hawks to 272 yards on 63 plays and just 97 yards on the ground while the unit forced three turnovers and scored for the second straight week. Sophomore defensive back Jalen Richardson led Moravian with eight tackles to go with a pass break-up while Senior linebacker Nick Zambelli had seven stops with one and a half tackles for loss and a forced fumble in the third quarter that stopped a Susquehanna drive in the red zone. Sophomore defensive back Jackson Buskirk, sophomore defensive lineman Shane Mastro and senior defensive back Jacob Kober each made six tackles with Buskirk breaking up three passes and Mastro adding a sack and a forced fumble.

Freshman linebacker Noah Breidinger contributed five tackles with a half a tackle for loss while senior defensive lineman Nick Tone and senior linebacker Dallas Owen each made four tackles with Tone adding one and a half tackles for loss and a sack and Owen adding a tackle for loss. Sophomore linebacker Brady Hornbaker recovered a fumble and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to go with three tackles while sophomore defensive back Justin McRae also had a fumble recovery and three tackles. Sophomore defensive back Renard Nicholson added an interception on the final play of the afternoon.

The River Hawks received the opening kickoff, and on the fifth play of the drive, quarterback Michael Ruisch lost control of the ball and Hornbaker scooped up the loose ball and raced 28 yards into the end zone for the Greyhounds' second fumble return for a touchdown in two weeks. Senior Jon Miller split the uprights to give Moravian a 7-0 lead with 12:36 left in the first quarter.

Susquehanna would get on the scoreboard on a 34-yard field goal by Elijah Hoffman with 3:50 left in the opening quarter. The River Hawks looked to pull within a point early in the second quarter, but Hoffman's 37-yard field goal attempt was wide right.

Susquehanna eventually took a 9-7 lead with 5:29 left before the intermission on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ruisch to Mitch Carsley. Hoffman's extra-point attempt was wide.

Moravian answered on its next possession when Diez capped off an 8-play,75-yard drive with a five-yard run with 2:24 remaining in the second quarter. Miller split the uprights again to put the Blue and Grey up 14-9.

The River Hawks had one more drive before halftime and Hoffman delivered on a 26-yard field goal with just one tick on the clock as the teams would head to the locker room with the Hounds leading 14-12.

The Greyhounds had the ball to start the second half and ran off 12 plays before bringing Miller to attempt a career-long field goal attempt of 42 yards, but the kick came up just short, hitting the cross bar and bouncing to the ground.

Susquehanna used a fake punt to keep its next drive alive and move into Moravian territory. However, on a 24-yard run by Aaron Speight to inside the 10-yard line, Zambelli stripped the ball and McRae recovered to give Moravian the ball back.

The Blue and Grey put together a 15-play drive and moved back into the red zone where Miller came on to attempt a 31-yard field goal. The kick was blocked and returned 75 yards for a touchdown by Danial Shelton as Susquehanna took an 18-14 lead. The River Hawks went for a two-point conversion but Buskirk knocked the pass away to keep the score 18-14 with 13:02 remaining.

The teams traded punts before Mills was intercepted for the first time in his career at the Moravian 46-yard line with 6:01 remaining.

Moravian's defense forced a quick three-and-out by Susquehanna as the offense got the ball back with 4:21 remaining and 81 yards to the end zone. Mills hit Petros and Olsen with first down passes to get the ball out to the 36-yard line. On a fourth down play, the River Hawks were flagged for pass interference to keep the drive alive. Mills hit Petros with two more passes for first downs and another to Little as the Greyhounds moved into the red zone at the 12-yard line. Mills found Little with a five-yard pass before finding Pierce wide open in the middle of the end zone. Miller's PAT gave the Hounds a 21-18 advantage with 17 seconds left.

Susquehanna had one final shot but Nicholson intercepted Ruisch's hail mary pass to end the game.

After the bye week, the Greyhounds will return to action on Saturday, October 20 when the Hounds host Juniata College in a Centennial Conference game kicking off at 12:00 p.m. at Rocco Calvo Field for Moravian's annual Homecoming contest.