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Greyhounds to Host Juniata College for Homecoming on October 20

Nick Zambelli and Jackson Buskirk make a tackle versus Gettysburg College at Rocco Calvo Field.
Nick Zambelli and Jackson Buskirk make a tackle versus Gettysburg College at Rocco Calvo Field.

THE GAME: Moravian returns to action after its bye week with a home game versus Juniata College in a Centennial Conference contest. Kickoff is slated for 12:00 p.m. at Rocco Calvo Field in Bethlehem as the Greyhounds celebrate Homecoming.

THE COACHES: Jeff Pukszyn (Moravian '97) is in his eighth 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 252 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 123-128-1 record.
   Juniata coach Tim Launtz (Juniata '80) is in his eighth year at the school with a 26-51 mark.

THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 64th in the series with Moravian holding a 33-28-2 lead. The Greyhounds earned a 20-17 last minute win in Huntingdon last fall after posting a 42-30 victory on the road two years ago. The Hounds earned a 42-10 victory in Bethlehem during the 2015 season and a 27-21 win in Huntingdon in 2014. The series has had a history of close games with a streak of five straight years in which the game ended in a regulation tie from 1995 until 1999. Four of those games went to overtime with three won by Moravian. 

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 ninth in the 2017 Centennial Conference preseason coaches and sports information directors poll while Juniata was selected eighth. 

BALANCED & EXPERIENCED 'HOUNDS: Of the 96 players on the Moravian roster, 47 are freshmen, 19 are sophomores and 17 are juniors. There are 13 seniors on this season's squad, and the Greyhounds return 45 letterwinners and 15 starters.

THE QUARTERBACKS: Sophomore Doug Erney was named the Hounds starter for the second straight season with freshman Christopher Mills serving as the back-up. Erney has completed 41-of-73 passes for 522 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in five games this fall, and he also has run for 167 yards and a touchdown on 51 attempts while being sacked nine times. Mills made his first career start versus Gettysburg College and stated again at Susquehanna University. Mills has completed 33-of-46 passes for 541 yards with six touchdowns and one interception while running for 46 yards on 13 attempts with one sack.

IN THE BACKFIELD: Junior Roberto Diez leads the Hounds on the ground with 315 yards and two touchdowns on 74 attempts while senior Eli Redmond has picked up 291 yards and a touchdown on 80 carries. Freshman Gerald Grube has 157 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in his debut season while senior Devon Bucks has gained seven yards on four attempts. 

THE WIDE RECEIVERS & TIGHT ENDS: The Greyhounds have had 11 different players catch a pass this season led by sophomore Nick Petros, who has 33 receptions for 636 yards and seven touchdowns. Freshman Eddie Olsen has caught 11 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns while junior Alex Pierce has nine receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Cory Little also has nine catches for 103 yards while senior running back Eli Redmond has five receptions for 22 yards. Junior wide receiver Andrew Lelie has two catches for 29 yards while freshman Christian Pinnock has one reception for 23 yards and junior fullback Sal Pagano has one catch for four yards. Sophomore fullback Andrew Stein, who switched from defense to offense in week five, has one catch for 12 yards while senior wide receiver James Pierce has one reception for eight yards. Junior running back Roberto Diez has one catch for one yard.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Moravian has five returners on the offensive line with juniors right tackle Jason Barish, center Brett Poling, left tackle Tyler Maxsim and left guard Zack Cregar and sophomore right guard PJ Weierbach all returning to the front line. Junior Matt Shields saw action at McDaniel College. The Greyhounds' front five has an average size of 6-2, 275.

DEFENSIVE FRONT: Senior Nick Tone leads the defensive line with 38 tackles including six and a half tackles for loss, three and a half sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery while sophomore Shane Mastro has 31 tackles with six for loss, two sacks, two pass break-ups, three forced fumbles and a blocked extra-point versus Johns Hopkins University. Freshman Tijir Bleam has 17 tackles with two and a half for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery in his debut season while junior Christian Coia has five tackles with one for loss and a sack. Senior Vincent Pianoforte has contributed five tackles with a half a sack and one tackle for loss while sophomore Andrew Stein, who switched to the offensive side of the ball after the Ursinus College game, has four tackles. Freshman Brandon Nemeth has recorded four tackles with a half a tackle for loss while junior Mike O'Hagan has four stops with one tackle for loss. Sophomore Sean Agar has three tackles and a fumble recovery while senior Joseph Pellegrino (has one stop and freshman Reggie Allen has one tackle with a half a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.

THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Freshman Noah Breidinger has 38 tackles with five and a half for loss and a fumble recovery to lead the linebackers in his first collegiate season while sophomore Brady Hornbaker has made 32 tackles including eight and a half tackles for loss, three sacks, a pair of forced fumbles and a fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown at Susquehanna University. Senior Nick Zambelli has made 28 tackles with one and a half for loss and a pass break-up that led to an interception while sophomore Tanner Barr has recorded 23 tackles with two for loss and a pass break-up. Sophomore Austin Heisler has contributed 12 stops with one and a half for loss and a half for loss and a sack while senior Tanner Stokes has added 11 stops and two pass break-ups. Senior Dallas Owen has 10 tackles, one tackle for loss and a pair of interceptions with 60 return yards including a 50-yard return for a touchdown versus Gettysburg College while freshman Blake Reed has six stops. Freshman Nicholas Azpeitia has contributed three tackles with two for loss while sophomore Kyle Kooker has two tackles. Freshmen Brian Harris and Dylan Purdy each have made one tackle with Purdy adding a half a tackle for loss.

THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Sophomore Jackson Buskirk leads the defensive backs and the entire Greyhounds' defense with 43 tackles to go with five pass break-ups and a fumble recovery he returned five yards for a touchdown at McDaniel College. Sophomore Jalen Richardson has 38 stops, one tackle for loss, two interceptions with 22 return yards and seven total passes defended while sophomore Justin McRae has made 34 tackles, one tackle for loss, three pass break-ups and recovered two fumbles. Senior Jacob Kober has added 34 tackles with an interception returned eight yards and three passes defended while sophomore Renard Nicholson has seven stops, two interceptions and four passes defended. Junior Tim Valentine also has seven tackles and a pass break-up while junior Dayvon Reimert has added six tackles this season. Freshman Connor Lyon has contributed three tackles and a pass break-up while freshman Matt Tucker has one tackle and a pass break-up. 

KICKING GAME: Seniors Jon Miller and Kenny Kane are handling the place-kicking duties for the Greyhounds this season. Miller is averaging 55.0 yards on 25 kickoffs this season including one touchback, and he is 18-for-18 on extra points and 3-for-7 on field goals with a career-long of 37 yards while missing a career-long attempt of 42 yards at Susquehanna University as the ball hit the crossbar. Kane was kicked off once for 55 yards while sophomore Brendan Morgans has one kickoff that resulted in a touchback. Sophomore wide receiver Nick Petros tied the school record with 11 punt attempts at McDaniel College, and he is averaging 33.2 yards per punt on 35 attempts with eight inside the 20-yard line, two fair caught and a long of 54 yards. Sophomore quarterback Doug Erney has punted once for 32 yards while junior Enzo Di Costanzo has had his only punt attempt of the year blocked.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore Jackson Buskirk has returned five punts for 46 yards while freshman wide receiver Eddie Olsen was credited with a 17-yard return after blocking a punt versus Johns Hopkins University to go with six tackles. Freshman defensive back Connor Lyon has one punt return for 13 yards. Senior running back Eli Redmond has three kickoff returns for 52 yards while sophomore linebacker Tanner Barr has returned four kickoffs for 35 yards and sophomore linebacker Austin Heisler has recovered a pair of onside kicks for five yards. Sophomore wide receiver Nick Petros has returned four kickoffs for 61 yards and has made three tackles on special teams while junior running back Roberto Diez two tackles. Senior linebacker Dallas Owen has a pair of kickoff returns for 16 yards while freshman wide receiver Cory Little has one kickoff return for eight yards.

MILESTONE WATCH: The Greyhounds have six players closing in on milestones in their careers or that have set school records this season. Senior running back Eli Redmond sits in 11th place in school history with 1,979 rushing yards, and he needs 125 yards to reach the top 10. Redmond is also tenth all-time with 406 rushing attempts, sixth all-time with 39 kickoff returns and sixth with 904 kickoff return yards. Redmond is tenth with 17 career touchdowns and fifth with 3,217 career all-purpose yards. Sophomore quarterback Doug Erney is eighth with 19 career touchdown passes, and he has 3,080 yards of total offense and needs 279 yards to reach the top ten. Erney also needs 52 pass attempts, 15 pass completions and 133 passing yards to make the top ten in those categories. Senior kicker Jon Miller is eighth with 40 career extra-points, and he has 58 points, needing one more to reach the top 10. Miller also has six field goals made, two shy of the top 10. Senior kicker Kenny Kane is tied for tenth in school history with 59 career kicking points, and he needs five extra-points to move into the top 10 all-time, currently with 32 PATs. Kane is also tied for eighth in school history with nine career field goals made. Freshman quarterback Christopher Mills set a school record with five touchdown passes versus Gettysburg College in his first career start. Sophomore wide receiver Nick Petros set school records with 241 receiving yards, four receiving touchdowns and an average of 40.2 yards per reception after a six-catch, four-TD, 241-yard game versus Gettysburg College. Petros has 10 career touchdown catches and needs just two more scoring receptions to move into the top 10 in school history.

THE CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE STATISTICAL RANKINGS: The Greyhounds are sixth in the Centennial Conference in total offense at 335.5 yards per game, and the squad is fourth in rushing offense with an average of 158.3 yards per contest and seventh in passing offense at 177.2 yards per outing. The Hounds are sixth in the conference in scoring offense at 22.5 points per game, and Moravian is fourth in points allowed at 19.7. Moravian's defense ranks eighth in the Centennial Conference at 364.0 yards allowed per game, and the squad is eighth in rushing defense at 159.2 yards per contest and seventh in passing defense at 204.8 yards allowed. The Greyhounds are second in turnover margin at +1.17per game with eight turnovers committed and 15 turnovers gained through six games.  Moravian also leads the Centennial Conference in opponent fourth down percentage at 25.0 percent (3-for-12) and tied for first in PAT kicking at 100 percent (18-for-18). Individually, sophomore quarterback Doug Erney is sixth in passing efficiency with a rating of 131.6, seventh in total offense at 137.8 yards per game and seventh in the conference at 104.4 passing yards per contest while junior running back Roberto Diez is seventh in the conference at 52.5 rushing yards per outing. Sophomore wide receiver Nick Petros is tenth in punting with an average of 33.2 yards per punt, and he is first in receiving yards per game at 106.0, second in receptions per game at 5.5, third in all-purpose yards at 115.5 per contest and fourth in scoring and tied for third touchdown scoring at 7.0 points per outing. Senior Jon Miller is fifth in kick scoring with 4.5 points per contest, and he is tied for first in PAT kicking at 100 percent (18-for-18), tied for fifth field goals per game at 0.50 and seventh in field goal percentage at 42.9 percent (3-for-7) while sophomore defensive back Jackson Buskirk is 11th in tackles per game with 7.2 per game. Senior defensive lineman Nick Tone is tied for 17th with 6.3 tackles per game while freshman linebacker Noah Breidinger is also tied for 17th at 6.3 tackles per contest, Sophomore defensive back Jalen Richardson tied for 17th with 6.3 tackles per outing, and he is tied for third with 1.17 passes defended and tied for seventh with 0.33 interceptions per game while sophomore defensive back Justin McRae is tied for 26th at 5.7 tackles a game. Sophomore linebacker Brady Hornbaker is tied for 32nd in tackles at 5.3 per contest, and he tied for fourth in tackles for loss with 1.42 per game. Senior linebacker Nick Zambelli is 30th with 5.6 stops per contest while sophomore defensive lineman Shane Mastro is tied for 39th with 5.0 tackles per outing. Mastro is tied for the conference lead in forced fumbles with 0.50 per game while Hornbaker and Tone are tied for third at 0.33 forced fumbles per contest

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 JUNIATA COLLEGE: The Eagles enter the game at 0-6 after a 33-17 loss at Gettysburg College before the bye week. Junior has used three quarterbacks with senior Tim Graham completing 45-of-77 passes for 460 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. Senior Jason Jones is 35-fot78 for 342 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions while junior Austin Montgomery has competed 33-of-62 passes for 487 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Senior wide receiver Daulton Snyder has caught 31 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore wide receiver Shaheed Ross has 24 catches for 322 yards and three scores. Sophomore wideout Sean Owens has pulled in 17 aerials for 239 yards and a team-high four touchdowns while senior wide receiver AJ Brocato has 12 catches for 185 yards and one touchdown. Freshman running back Ian Border leads the Eagles' rushing attack with 108 yards and one touchdown on 36 attempts while junior running back Jake Wertz has 106 yards and a score on 22 attempts. Sophomore running back Lane Chalmers has a team-high 41 rushing attempts for 105 yards while Montgomery has added 57 yards on 20 attempts. Sophomore kicker Sam Craig is 12-for-13 on extra-points and 3-for-5 on field goal attempts with a long of 35 yards while sophomore punter Brendan Gardner is averaging 35.1 yards per punt with a long of 66 yards, six inside the 20-yard line, five fair caught and one touchback. Ross has returned 18 kickoffs for 285 yards while freshman wide receiver Clay Spencer has 13 kickoff returns for 230 yards and two punt returns for 14 yards. Senior defensive back Joel Reighard has four punt returns for 36 yards, and he leads the Juniata defense with 51 tackles including two for loss, an interception, six passes defended and a blocked kick. Sophomore linebacker Dan Drop Jr. has 42 tackles to go with five tackles for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and three passes defended while freshman linebacker Jamel Foster has 36 stops with two for loss, one sack, on forced fumble and a pair of pass break-ups. Sophomore defensive back Joshua Singleton has made 28 tackles to go with a team-high three interceptions and seven passes defended while senior defensive back Cameron Wood has 26 tackles and a blocked kick. Sophomore linebacker Zeb Fowler has added 25 tackles with two for loss, a fumble recovery, an interception and two passes defended while sophomore defensive lineman Zach Krug has 22 stops with three and a half for loss and one sack.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Huntingdon last fall, kicker Jon Miller drilled a career-long 34-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to give Moravian a 20-17 victory over host Juniata College in Centennial Conference action. Miller booted a pair of field goals and two extra-points in the win including one field goal in the final 12 seconds of each half as the Greyhounds earned their first win of the season. Moravian's offense picked up 417 yards on 64 plays as quarterback Doug Erney completed 18-of-32 passes for 257 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Erney also had 72 yards rushing on 11 attempts. Running back Eli Redmond added 59 yards on 14 carries while running back Frank Dangello ran for 22 yards on five attempts. Wide receiver Alex Pierce caught a team-high five passes for 74 yards including a 41-yard completion to help set up the Greyhounds' second touchdown. Wideout Ricky Tate added four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown while tight end Aaron Brown had three receptions for 66 yards and a score. Wide receiver Aaron Hudson added three catches for 16 yards, one kickoff return for seven yards and a rushing attempt for six yards while wide receiver Nick Petros caught two passes for 32 yards, ran once of a yard and punted six times for an average of 34.5 yards including a career-long of 60 yards. Defensive back Tim Valentine led the Moravian defense with 11 tackles while defensive lineman Vinny Caporrino added nine tackles with two and a half tackles for loss and a sack. Linebacker Steve Ewald had eight tackles with a half a tackle for loss while linebacker Tanner Barr added seven stops with a half a tackle for loss. Defensive back Justice Anderson made six stops and returned a pair of kickoffs for 22 yards while defensive back Jalen Richardson added five tackles. Defensive back Jackson Buskirk had a pair of interceptions in the first half, and he added a total of four passes defended and three tackles. Linebacker Owen Perih also had three tackles with two for loss while defensive lineman Shane Mastro and defensive lineman Fouad Haddad both had three stops. The Hounds' defense forced a fourth down stop on the Eagles' first drive. Moravian needed eight plays to cover the 70 yards to the end zone with Erney finding Brown with a 19-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-12 play. Miller made the extra-point to give the Blue and Grey a 7-0 lead with 7:19 to play in the first quarter. Juniata would return the ensuing kickoff 77 yards and finish off a short drive with a touchdown run to tie the score at 7-7 with 4:29 to go in the opening quarter. After Moravian punted, Buskirk intercepted a pass to end the next drive by the Eagles. Late in the second quarter, Buskirk intercepted another pass and returned it 36 yards to set the Moravian offense up at the Juniata 43-yard line. The Hounds would drive to the one-yard line before bringing Miller on for an 18-yard field goal that gave the Greyhounds a 10-7 lead with just 12 seconds left in the first half. Moravian would end the half with another interception as defensive back Nick Zambelli picked off a Hail Mary attempt in the end zone. The Eagles forced Moravian to punt on the opening possession of the second half, and Juniata would drive down and kick a field goal to knot the score at 10-10 with 6:18 left in the third quarter. The Eagles found the end zone on their next possession to take the lead for the first time at 17-10 with 11:33 remaining in the contest. The Greyhounds took over on their own 21-yard line with just over six minutes to play. Erney found Tate with a 20-yard pass and then Pierce with a 41-yard reception to close in on the red zone. Erney finished off the drive with an 18-yard scoring strike to Tate, his first collegiate touchdown reception, and Miller drilled the PAT to tie the contest at 17-17 with 4:04 left in regulation.  Juniata drove inside the Moravian 30-yard line but a tackle on fourth down by Valentine to give the Greyhounds possession on their own 27-yard line with 59 seconds to play. Erney ran 23 yards on the first play of the drive to move the ball to midfield, and he added two more rushes for first downs as the Hounds moved the ball to the Juniata 17-yard line. After a timeout by Moravian to set up the field goal, the Eagles would try to ice Miller with another timeout before the snap. However, Miller, who lined up on the left hash mark for the kick, split the uprights for his career best and the winning points.