BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team saw its 2018 season come to a close on Saturday as the Greyhounds fell to rival Muhlenberg College, 53-7, in Centennial Conference action at Rocco Calvo Field as the Hounds celebrated Senior Day.
Prior to the contest, Moravian honored its 12 departing seniors including running back Devon Bucks, tight end George Haddad, kicker Kenny Kane, defensive back Jacob Kober, kicker Jon Miller, linebacker Dallas Owen, defensive lineman Vincent Pianoforte, wide receiver James Pierce, running back Eli Redmond, linebacker Tanner Stokes, defensive lineman Nick Tone and defensive back/linebacker Nick Zambelli.
"The seniors are a great group of guys, collectively and individually, just an outstanding group of men while I learned from as much as I hope they learned from me and the other coaches," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn, a 1997 Moravian graduate who completes his eighth season leading his alma mater. "This is a great group of guys. They had a lot of success over the four years here, and to take the team from where we were at the end of last year in 2017 into where we are right now, those are huge strides. Did it end the way today on their last game the way we wanted, no but if take a step backwards and appreciate what they did, a big thank you is in order for this senior class."
The Greyhounds, who finish the 2018 campaign at 5-5 overall and 4-5 in Centennial Conference action, had 220 yards of offense in the game with 143 through the air as freshman quarterback Christopher Mills completed 13-of-27 passes with a touchdown and two interceptions. Sophomore wide receiver Nick Petros caught four passes for 43 yards to become just the third receiver in school history to reach 1,000 yards in a season as he finished the year with 57 catches for 1,017 yards and a school-record 11 touchdowns. Petros also punted five times for an average of 36.8 yards with a long of 54 yards.
Junior wide receiver Alex Pierce also had four catches against Muhlenberg for 38 yards while freshman wideout Eddie Olsen added three receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown. Freshman wide receiver Cory Little caught one pass for 25 yards and had one kickoff return of eight yards while junior running back Roberto Diez had one catch for five yards.
Redmond led the rushing attack with 35 yards on 13 carries as he finished his career 11th in Moravian history with 2,066 yards on 429 rushing attempts. Bucks had 26 yards on five carries in his final collegiate contest while Diez ran for 25 yards on seven attempts. Freshman running back Gerald Grube added 19 yards on four carries while junior fullback Sal Pagano returned a kickoff for 13 yards.
Sophomore defensive back Jackson Buskirk was selected as the Moravian's Most Valuable Player of the Game after leading the Greyhounds' defense with 13 tackles. Kober registered 11 tackles with a half a tackle for loss while Owen made nine stops and forced a fumble. Zambelli had seven tackles as he finished his career as a two-year captain while Pianoforte and freshman linebacker Noah Breidinger each had six tackle with Pianoforte adding a half a tackle for loss.
Sophomore defensive lineman Shane Mastro and sophomore linebacker Brady Hornbaker each made five tackle with Hornbaker making one behind the line of scrimmage while Tone, junior defensive lineman Christian Coia and sophomore defensive back Justin McRae each had four stops with Coia making one for loss and Tone knocking down a pass. Sophomore defensive back Jalen Richardson had two tackles, a fumble recovery, a pass break-up and a kickoff return of 11 yards while sophomore fullback Andrew Stein and sophomore defensive back Renard Nicholson both had two stops.
"I don't think we matched the pace very well in the first quarter and that hurt us," noted Pukszyn. "When you're playing a good team, it is hard to get out of a hole you dig like that. This is something we have to learn from, and do a better job researching in the offseason, which starts with me. You can't take anything away from Muhlenberg, that's a good team.. I think again, the effort which was led by the senios was there for the 60 minutes today."
The Mules scored the first three times they had the ball for a 20-0 lead in the first quarter, and Muhlenberg headed to the locker room with a 33-0 advantage.
The Greyhounds forced a three-and-out on the Mules first possession of the second half. Mills would lead the Blue and Grey on an 11-play, 79-yard drive to the squad's only points of the game. Early in the drive, Mills hit Olsen and Alex Pierce with first down completions on third-and-four plays before Mills finished off the drive with a third-and-goal pass to Olsen for a five-yard touchdown. Miller added the extra-point to make the score 33-7 with 7:34 to go in the third quarter. The PAT was the 46th of Miller's career as he finished in seventh in the Moravian record books, and he is also eighth all-time among Greyhound kickers with 67 total points.
The Mules answered with another score, and then after a kickoff into the wind would bounce back to Muhlenberg, the Mules lead 47-7 after three quarters.