BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team hosts Ursinus College in a Centennial Conference contest Saturday, September 28. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. at Rocco Calvo Field in Bethlehem.
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 259 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 124-134-1 record.
Ursinus coach Peter Gallagher (West Virginia Wesleyan '93) has a record of 93-91 in his 19th year at the school.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 22nd in the series with Moravian leading 11-9-1. The Bears post a 21-14 win last fall in Collegeville, and Urisnus also earned a 35-17 victory in Bethlehem in 2017. The Greyhounds last victory in the series was a 33-32 win in Collegeville in 2016. Moravian snapped a four-game winning streak by Ursinus with a 31-3 victory in Bethlehem in 2015. The Bears lead the series, 7-5, since Moravian joined the Centennial Conference in 2007.
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. Ursinus was picked fifth in the poll.
BALANCED & EXPERIENCED 'HOUNDS: Of the 88 players on the Moravian roster, 24 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 has completed 5-of-17 passes for 35 yards with two interceptions as he made his first career start at No. 21 Johns Hopkins University.
IN THE BACKFIELD: Senior Roberto Diez leads the running backs with 269 yards and a touchdown on 58 carries while freshman running back Carrington Smith has carried the ball 15 times for 22 yards this season. Freshman quarterback Sherwin Stewart has rushed for 17 yards on six carries while sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills has 12 yards on 10 attempts. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros has contributed seven yards on two carries and sophomore wide receiver Romello Walters has one attempt for three yards.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS: The Greyhounds have had nine different players catch a pass this season led by junior Nick Petros, who has 14 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Eddie Olsen has six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown while senior wide receiver Andrew Lelie has four receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Cory Little has caught four passes for 55 yards while sophomore Romello Walters has four catches for 30 yards. Senior Alex Pierce has three receptions for 36 yards while senior running back Roberto Diez has one catch for 13 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 15 tackles including three sacks, three and a half tackles for loss and a pass break-up while junior Shane Mastro has added 14 tackles including two sacks and two and a half a tackles for loss. Junior PJ Weierbach has made 12 tackles with three and a half for loss and one a half a sacks in his first season on the defensive side of the ball while junior Brady Hornbaker has made 11 stops with half a sack and two and a half tackles for loss. Senior Mike O'Hagan has recorded six tackles while junior Andrew Stein has made three stops with one for loss and a pass break-up senior Christian Coia has two tackles.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Sophomore Noah Breidinger tops the linebackers and the Moravian defense with 26 tackles including one for loss and two pass break-ups while junior Tanner Barr has contributed 17 tackles with one and a half for loss. Senior Tim Valentine is playing a hybrid linebacker/defensive back and has 10 tackles with an interception while junior Kyle Kooker has seven tackles with one and a half for loss. Sophomore Nicholas Azpeitia has made six tackles while freshman Jack Gawlik has three stops.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Junior Renard Nicholson leads the defensive backs with 23 tackles to go with one sack, one tackle for loss and two pass break-ups while junior Jackson Buskirk has 17 stops with three tackles for loss and two pass break-ups. Sophomore Connor Lyon has nine tackles and a pass break-up while junior Justin McRae has added nine tackles with one pass break-up. Junior Jalen Richardson has contributed seven stops with one tackle for loss.
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 five times for an average of 57.8 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 12 times for an average of 34.3 yards, a long of 53 yards, one touch back and two inside the 20-yard line while sophomore wide receiver Tadd Barr has punted three times for an average of 35.o yards with one touchback.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore wide receiver Cory Little has six kickoff returns for 174 yards with a long of 49 yards while junior wide receiver Nick Petros has returned two kickoffs for 53 yards with a long of 37 yards. Freshman quarterback Sherwin Stewart has returned two kickoffs for 49 yards with a long of 27 yards while sophomore wide receiver Romello Walters has one kickoff return for 21 yards, and he has two tackles. Junior defensive back Jalen Richardson has returned one kickoff for 19 yards while junior defensive back Justin McRae has one kickoff return for 18 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 three players closing in on milestones in their careers. Senior running back Roberto Diez enters the Ursinus game on Saturday needing just 27 yards to become the 25th Greyhound to reach 1,000 career rushing yards. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros sits in 15th place in school history with 1,353 receiving yards, and he needs 147 yards to reach the top 10. Petros also needs 17 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 34.9 career punting average on 108 punts for 3,774 yards, both 10th 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 tenth in the Centennial Conference in total offense at 237.7 yards per game, and the squad is ninth in rushing offense with an average of 95.3 yards per contest and tenth in passing offense at 142.3 yards per outing. The Hounds are tenth in the conference in scoring offense at 10.0 points per game, and Moravian is tied for seventh in points allowed at 25.7. Moravian's defense ranks eighth in the Centennial Conference at 377.0 yards allowed per game, and the squad is fourth in rushing defense at 110.3 yards per contest and ninth in passing defense at 266.7 yards allowed. Individually, junior wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is tied for sixth in the conference in receptions per game at 4.7, 11th in yards per game at 50.0 and eighth in punting with an average of 34.3 yards per punt and while senior running back Roberto Diez is third in the Centennial Conference at 88.0 rushing yards per contest and tenth in all-purpose yardage at 92.3 yards per game. Sophomore kicker Jack Coary is 11th with five points kicking while junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk is tied for tenth with two punt returns. Sophomore wide receiver Cory Little is tied for fourth with six kickoff returns. Sophomore linebacker Noah Breidinger is fifth in the conference in tackles at 8.7 per contest while junior defensive back Renard Nicholson is tied for 11th at 7.7 tackles per game. Breidinger, Buskirk and Nicholson are all tied for ninth with two pass break-ups. Junior defensive end Austin Heisler is tied for fourth with three sacks and tied for tenth with 3.5 tackles for loss while junior Shane Mastro is tied for eighth 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 URSINUS COLLEGE: The Bears enter the game at 2-1 overall and 1-1 in Centennial Conference action after a 44-38 loss to Juniata College last Saturday. Senior quarterback Thomas Garlick leads Ursinus on the field having completed 45-of-87 passes for 645 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. Junior running back Sam Ragland has caught a team-high 15 passes for 186 yards, and he also leads the squad with 272 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries. Senior tight end Matt Gallagher has caught nine passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore wide receiver Octavious Carter has six receptions for 95 yards and sophomore wide receiver Ardashes Dulgerian has caught four passes for 74 yards and two scores. Senior running back Stacey Gardner has added five receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown to go along with 13 rushing attempts for 60 yards and a score. Junior fullback Kyle Wiggins as run for 151 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries while Garlick has 80 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Freshman kicker Dakota Wherrity is 13-for-14 on extra-points and 1-for-3 on field goals with a long of 20 yards while sophomore Mike Reilly has punted 13 times for an average of 39.6 yards with a long of 60 yards, five inside the 20-yard line, three fair caught and one touchback. Senior linebacker Jacob McCain leads the Bears with 36 tackles to go with three and a half for loss, one sack, one interception, two passes defended, one forced fumble and on blocked kick. Junior defensive lineman Ian Johnson has made 20 tackles with two and a half for loss and one sack while senior linebacker Brett Capobianco has 18 stops with one and a half for loss, a half a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble return of 26 yards for a touchdown. Senior defensive back Jack Spingler has made 15 tackles with four for loss, one and a half sack and one pass break-up while junior Darren Sipf also has 15 stop s with four for loss and two sacks. Reilly has contributed 14 tackles with one and a half for loss and one sack while sophomore defensive back Shane Jones and senior defensive lineman Marcus Weathers both had 13 stops with Jones adding two pass break-ups and a half a tackle for loss and Weathers contributing six tackles for loss, four and a half sacks and a pass break-up. Senior defensive lineman Noah Thomas has five and a half tackles for loss, two and a have sacks, an interception returned 32 yards for a touchdown and one forced fumble for Ursinus.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Collegeville last fall, Moravian fell behind 13-0 before rallying; however, the Greyhounds fell to host Ursinus College, 21-14. The Hounds had 251 yards of offense on 48 plays with quarterback Doug Erney completing 11-of-16 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Nick Petros caught six passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, and he also punted six times with an average of 35.7 yards per punt with two inside the 20-yard line. Wide receiver Eddie Olsen caught two passes for 13 yards and wide out Cory Little had one reception for 16 yards. Running back Eli Redmond led Moravian's rushing attack with 45 yards on 12 carries, and he caught two passes for 10 yards. Running back Roberto Diez ran for 16 yards on five attempts while Erney had 13 yards on 15 carries. Defensive lineman Nick Tone led the defense with 11 tackles including two and a half sacks while defensive back Jackson Buskirk had 10 tackles. Defensive back Justin McRae and defensive back Jacob Kober both had nine tackles in the contest with McRae breaking up a pass while defensive back Jalen Richardson made eight stops. Linebacker Nick Zambelli contributed seven tackles while defensive lineman Shane Mastro also had seven stops to go with a tackle for loss, a pass break-up and a forced fumble. Linebacker Noah Breidinger added six tackles with one and a half for loss while linebacker Brady Hornbacker had four stops with a half a sack and one tackle for loss. A quickly played first quarter would see each team punting once and the Bears turning the ball over on downs just three plays into the second quarter. After another Moravian punt, Ursinus running back Stacey Gardner would cap a seven-play, 51-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run as the Bears took a 7-0 lead with 8:49 to play until halftime. Neither team was able to score in the remainder of the first half with Moravian's defense making a fourth down stop on the final play of the half. The Greyhounds received the opening kickoff of the second half and moved down to the Ursinus 25-yard line before turning the ball over on downs as Erney's fourth down pass to Redmond fell incomplete. The Bears would turn the defensive stop into points as quarterback Thomas Garlick scored on a one-yard run. Ursinus missed the extra-point for a 13-0 lead with 7:50 to play in the third quarter. Redmond opened the Greyhounds' next drive with a short run before catching a pass from Erney for a first down. On the next play, Erney found Petros down the Moravian sideline, and Petros shook off a tackle after the catch and finished racing the 68 yards into the end zone. Kicker Jon Miller split the uprights to cut the deficit to 13-7 with 6:27 left in the third quarter. The Bears would extend their advantage to 21-7 with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Garlick to Tom Cardozo and a two-point rush by Garlick with 6:55 remaining in the game. Moravian would need just four plays to score again. Erney ran for 15 and three yards before Redmond raced to 12 yards to move the ball to the Ursinus 39-yard line. On the next play, Erney and Petros connected again, this time for 39 yards on a post pattern. Miller's PAT cut the deficit to 21-14 with 5:19 to play. Ursinus would take the ensuing kickoff and run out the clock with three first downs.