BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team plays its second night road game of the season, traveling to No. 21 Johns Hopkins University on Friday, September 20. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. at Homewood Field in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the first Friday night game for the Greyhounds since 1995.
THE COACHES: Jeff Pukszyn (Moravian '98) is entering his ninth 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 258 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 124-133-1 record.
Johns Hopkins coach Greg Chimera (Johns Hopkins '08) is in his first season as head coach after 10 years on the Blue Jays' staff as an assistant.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 21st in the series with the Blue Jays holding a 13-7. Johns Hopkins has won the last 10 games in the series including a 47-3 win at Rocco Calvo Field in Bethlehem last fall and 37-7 and 29-21 victories in Baltimore the two previous seasons. The Greyhounds last win in the series was a 33-10 victory in Bethlehem in 2008, and Moravian captured the 2007 game, 44-41 in Baltimore, the first time in Moravian history that both teams had scored over 40 points in a game.
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 seventh in the Centennial Conference preseason coaches and sports information directors poll. Johns Hopkins was picked first in the poll with 16 first place votes.
BALANCED & EXPERIENCED 'HOUNDS: Of the 89 players on the Moravian roster, 25 are freshmen, 31 are sophomores and 18 are juniors. There are 15 seniors on this season's squad, and the Greyhounds return 59 letterwinners and 17 starters.
THE QUARTERBACKS: Sophomore Christopher Mills has completed 33-of-69 passes this season for 392 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions in his second season as a starter. Freshman David LePoidevin saw action late against McDaniel College and has thrown one interception.
THE BACKFIELD: Senior Roberto Diez leads the running backs with 159 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries while freshman running back Carrington Smith has carried the ball 11 times for 14 yards this season. Sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills has 12 yards on 10 attempts while junior wide receiver Nick Petros has contributed seven yards on one carry and sophomore wide receiver Romello Walters has one attempt for three yards.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS: The Greyhounds have had eight different players catch a pass this season led by junior Nick Petros, who has 13 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown. sophomore Eddie Olsen has five receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown. while senior wide receiver Andrew Lelie has four receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Cory Little has caught three passes for 50 yards while senior Alex Pierce has three receptions for 36 yards and sophomore Romello Walters has three catches for 22 yards. Sophomore tight end Matt Nimas has one reception for 22 yards while senior fullback Sal Pagano has one catch this season.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Moravian has five returners on the offensive line although one starter from 2018, however, junior PJ Weierbach has moved to the defensive side of the ball. Seniors right tackle Jason Barish, center Brett Poling, left tackle Tyler Maxsim and left guard Zach Cregar all return to the front line with sophomore Frank Sallusti moving into the starting right guard position. The Greyhounds' front five has an average size of 6-2, 275.
DEFENSIVE FRONT: Junior Austin Heisler leads the defensive front with 12 tackles including three sacks and three and a half tackles for loss while junior Shane Mastro has added 11 tackles including two sacks and two and a half a tackles for loss. Junior Brady Hornbaker has made nine stops with half a sack and one and a half tackles for loss while senior Mike O'Hagan has recorded six tackles. Junior PJ Weierbach has made six tackles with one and a half for loss and a half a sack in his first season on the defensive side of the ball while senior Christian Coia and junior Andrew Stein have each made two tackles.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Sophomore Noah Breidinger tops the linebackers and the Moravian defense with 21 tackles including one for loss and two pass break-ups while junior Tanner Barr has contributed 14 tackles with one and a half for loss. Senior Tim Valentine is playing a hybrid linebacker/defensive back and has five tackles with an interception while junior Kyle Kooker has six tackles with one and a half for loss. Sophomore Nicholas Azpeitia has made three tackles while freshman Jack Gawlik has one stop.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Junior Renard Nicholson leads the defensive backs with 16 tackles to go with one sack, one tackle for loss and one pass break-up while junior Jackson Buskirk has 11 stops with two tackles for loss and two pass break-ups. Sophomore Connor Lyon has eight tackles and a pass break-up while Junior Justin McRae has added six tackles with one pass break-up.
KICKING GAME: Sophomore transfer Jack Coary is 2-for-3 on extra-points this season, 1-for-1 on field goals with a long of 21 yards and has kicked off three times for an average of 57.0 yards with one touchback while freshman Trevor Yacuboski has kicked off four times for an average of 58.5 yards with one touchback. Junior Brendan Morgans is 1-for-1 on extra-points, and he has punted three times for an average of 53.7 yards with a long of 58 yards, one touchback, one inside the 20-yard line and one blocked. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros has punted five times for an average of 26.0 yards, a long of 29 yards and one inside the 20-yard line.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Junior wide receiver Nick Petros has returned two kickoffs for 53 yards with a long of 37 yards while freshman quarterback/punter Sherwin Stewart has returned two kickoffs for 49 yards with a long of 27 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Romello Walters has one kickoff return for 21 yards, and he has two tackles while sophomore running back Cory Little has one kickoff return for 49 yards. Junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk has returned two punts for 15 yards while senior running back Nick Princiotta has made two tackles on special teams.
MILESTONE WATCH: The Greyhounds have two players closing in on milestones in their careers. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros sits in 15th place in school history with 1,345 receiving yards, and he needs 187 yards to reach the top 10. Petros also needs 18 receptions to reach 100 for his career, and he is fourth with 15 career touchdown receptions, just four shy of setting the school record. He is tenth with a 34.6 career punting average on 101 punts for 3,492 yards, both 11th in school history. Sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills enters the week needing 285 yards to reach 2,000 yards passing and 1,285 yards to become the eighth Greyhound to throw for 3,000 yards.
THE CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE STATISTICAL RANKINGS: The Greyhounds are eighth in the Centennial Conference in total offense at 290.5 yards per game, and the squad is eighth in rushing offense with an average of 94.5 yards per contest and sixth in passing offense at 196.0 yards per outing. The Hounds are eighth in the conference in scoring offense at 15.0 points per game, and Moravian is fifth in points allowed at 18.0. Moravian's defense ranks fifth in the Centennial Conference at 323.5 yards allowed per game, and the squad is sixth in rushing defense at 110.5 yards per contest and sixth in passing defense at 213.0 yards allowed. Individually, sophomore quarterback Chris Mills is fifth in passing yards at 196.0 per game, and he is eighth in passing efficiency with a 98.3 rating. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros is second in the conference in receptions per game at 6.5, fifth in yards per game at 71.0 and eighth in all-purpose yardage at 101.0 yards per outing while senior running back Roberto Diez is fourth in the Centennial Conference at 79.5 rushing yards per contest. Sophomore kicker Jack Coary is ninth with five points kicking while junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk is tied for seventh with two punt returns. Sophomore linebacker Noah Breidinger is third in the conference in tackles at 10.5 per contest while junior defensive back Renard Nicholson is tied for 10th at 8.0 tackles per game. Breidinger and Buskirk are both tied for fourth with two pass break-ups. Junior defensive end Austin Heisler is second with three sacks and tied for fifth with 3.5 tackles for loss while junior Shane Mastro is tied for fifth with two sacks.
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 JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: The Blue Jays enter Saturday's game at 1-1 overall and 0-1 in Centennial Conference action after falling to Susquehanna University, 28-27 last Saturday. Senior quarterback David Tammaro leads Johns Hopkins on the field having completed 51-of-87 passes for 561 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, and he has run for 32 yards and a score on 12 attempts. Junior wide receiver Ryan Hubley has caught 15 passes for 194 yards while sophomore wide receiver Harrison Wellmann has 10 catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Dane Rogerson has contributed 11 receptions for 62 yards, and he leads the Blue Jays with 85 rushing yards on 32 carries. Sophomore tight end Emmett Turner has grabbed six oases for 53 yards while senior wide receiver Jacob Yohy has five catches for 60 yards. Wellmann has also returned six kickoffs for 154 yards while Hubley has two kickoff returns for 41 yards. Senior kicker Mike Eberle is 5-for-5 on extra points and 3-for-3 on field goals with a long of 30 yards while sophomore Kyle Battles is averaging 37.8 yards per punt on 10 attempts with a long of 46, one touchback, three fair caught an three inside the 20-yard line and Battles is also averaging 60.3 yards per kickoff on 10 attempts with three touchbacks. Sophomore defensive back Nick Seidel leads Johns Hopkins with 18 tackles to go with one interception while senior linebacker Nick Hartman has 17 tackles with a pass break-up. Junior linebacker Ryan Weed has contributed 15 stops with a half a tackle for loss, two interceptions and four passes defended while senior defensive lineman Mike Kalanik also has 15 tackles with three for loss, two and a half sacks and a pass break-up. Junior defensive back Macauley Kilbane has added 11 tackles with an interception and five passes defended while sophomore defensive back Ross Anderson has two interceptions and three passes defended to go with seven tackles.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Bethlehem last fall, Moravian suffered its first loss of the 2018 season, falling to Johns Hopkins University, 47-3, in Centennial Conference action at Rocco Calvo Field Saturday. The Greyhounds were limited to 216 yards of offensive on 60 plays while the Blue Jays had 680 yards of offense on 83 plays. Moravian quarterback Doug Erney was 8-for-14 for 68 yards with an interception, and he added 26 yards on 14 carries. Running back Eli Redmond led the Hounds' rushing attack with 55 yards on 15 attempts to go with two receptions for six yards while running back Roberto Diez added 32 yards on 10 attempts. Quarterback Christopher Mills made his first collegiate appearance and ran for 15 yards on two carries while running back Gerald Grube had 11 yards on two attempts. Running back Devon Bucks picked up six yards on two carries while wide receiver Nick Petros had two receptions for seven yards, one carry for three yards and punted eight times for an average of 37.0 yards including a 54-yard punt. Wide receiver Eddie Olsen grabbed three passes for 32 yards, blocked a punt and made a tackle while wide receiver Christian Pinnock added one catch for 23 yards. Defensive back Jackson Buskirk led the Moravian defense with 11 tackles to go with a pass break-up while defensive back Justin McRae made 10 tackles. Defensive back Jacob Kober added nine tackles while defensive back Jalen Richardson had eight tackles with one for loss. Freshman linebacker Noah Breidinger had seven stops while linebacker Nick Zambelli and linebacker Brady Hornbaker each had six tackles with Hornbaker adding a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Defensive lineman Nick Tone forced a fumble to go with three tackles while defensive lineman Shane Mastro added a blocked extra-point, a pass break-up and four tackles. Johns Hopkins scored on its opening two possessions and led 14-0 in the second quarter when the Blue Jays had a snap sail over the punter's head. After tracking the ball down, Olsen would block the punt attempt with tight end Casey Klahr recovering the ball. Erney would pick up one fourth down with his legs before Jon Miller split the uprights with a 29-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 14-3 with 6:34 left in the first half. The Blue Jays added one more score before the half with Mastro blocking the extra-point. The closest Moravian would come to scoring again would be on the second play of the fourth quarter, however; Erney's pass intended for Petros was intercepted in the end zone.