WILKES-BARRE, PA. --- The Moravian College football team rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to tie the game in the third quarter before falling at host King's College, 23-20, in non-conference action Saturday evening under the lights of McCarthy Stadium beginning the 2019 season.
The Greyhounds had 298 yards of total offense and were led by sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills, who connected on 17-of-34 passes for 193 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and he also ran for 10 yards on five carries. Sophomore wide receiver Eddie Olsen caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown while junior wide receiver Nick Petros also had five receptions for 42 yards while rushing once for seven yards and punting five times. Senior wideout Alex Pierce added three catches for 36 yards while senior wide receiver Andrew Lelie caught two passes for 24 yards and a touchdown. Senior running back Roberto Diez led the Hounds with 87 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Junior defensive back Renard Nicholson led Moravian with 13 tackles including one of the Hounds' four sacks in the game, and Nicholson also registered a pass break-up. Sophomore linebacker Noah Breidinger added 11 tackles with one for loss while junior linebacker Tanner Barr had nine tackles. Junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk, junior linebacker Austin Heisler, junior defensive lineman Shane Mastro and junior defensive lineman Brady Hornbaker all had six tackles with Heisler adding one and a half sacks, Mastro and Hornbaker reach recording half a sack and Buskirk making one tackle for loss.
Senior linebacker Tim Valentine had an interception for the Blue and Grey on defense to go with three tackles while junior defensive back Justin McRae had five tackles and a pass break-up. Sophomore defensive back Connor Lyon contributed four tackles with a pass break-up while senior defensive lineman Mike O'Hagan had four stops. Junior linebacker Kyle Kooker added three tackles with one and a half for loss while junior defensive lineman PJ Weierbach had a half a sack among his two tackles in his first game on defense after starting on the offensive line last season. Freshman Trevor Yacuboski kicked off four times for an average of 58.5 yards and one touchback.
"We did not execute with enough consistency tonight on offense and gave up too many big plays on defense," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "Those are two fixable areas that start with me. We did not do a good enough job on third down on either side of the ball either. I thought we fought hard the entire game was was great to see but we need to take care of the little things."
Moravian received the opening kickoff but would punt after three plays. The Monarchs ran a flea flicker on their first play of the evening and scored on a 65-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead just a minute into action.
The Greyhounds moved into the red zone on their next possession but a sack of Mills on fourth down at the five-yard line ended the drive. King's answered with a 16-play, 88-yard drive to pull ahead 14-0 with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
After each team punted, the Hounds took over at the King's 40-yard line early in the second quarter. On a fourth and three play, Mills found Olsen for a 33-yard touchdown pass. Sophomore Jack Coary followed with the extra-point to cut the Monarchs' lead to 14-7 with 9:47 before the intermission.
King's was driving late in the half when Valentine intercepted a pass in the end zone to keep the Blue and Grey down just seven points at the break.
The Monarchs had the ball first after halftime and moved into the red zone before a 35-yard field goal attempt missed wide to the left.
Moravian drove down the field and moved into the red zone on a 23-yard pass from Mills to Olsen on another fourth down conversion. Two plays later, Mills found Lelie on a three-yard slant for the touchdown and Coary's extra-point knotted the score at 14-14 with 6:37 left in the third quarter.
King's kicked a field goal just 1:33 into the final period to move back in front, 17-14. Mills was intercepted on Moravian's next play, and the Monarchs scored on a 53-yard run to start the ensuing drive to push the advantage to 23-14 with 13:01 remaining.
The Greyhounds moved down on the next drive when Diez found the end zone on a one-yard run with 8:44 to go. Coary's extra-point was blocked to keep the deficit at three points, 23-20.
Moravian's defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back. However, the offense was unable to move the ball and would punt after three plays. The Monarchs drove down to the one-yard line before running out the clock to end the game.
The Hounds are slated to begin their 2019 home and Centennial Conference season on Saturday, September 14 when the squad welcomes McDaniel College to Rocco Calvo Field for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff on Family Day.