BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College senior running back Roberto Diez ran for a career high 129 yards and three touchdowns to surpass 1,000 yards for his career; however, the Greyhounds were unable to maintain a halftime lead, falling to visiting Ursinus College, 35-28, in Centennial Conference action at Rocco Calvo Field Saturday afternoon.
Diez's afternoon paced the Greyhounds to 257 yards of total offense on 64 plays including 163 yards on the ground. Freshman running back/quarterback Sherwin Stewart added 10 yards on four carries while sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills had eight yards on two attempts and freshman running back Carrington Smith contributed six yards on two carries.
Mills completed 12-of-26 passes for 104 yards after missing a week due to an injury. Sophomore wide receiver Eddie Olsen caught four passes for 42 yards while junior wide receiver Nick Petros had four receptions for 29 yards and punted five times for an average of 49.0 yards with a long of 65 yards. Senior tight end Nick Cregar had two catches for 15 yards while sophomore wide receiver Cory Little had two receptions for 18 yards and an 87-yard kickoff return to set up Diez's final touchdown of the game.
Junior defensive back Renard Nicholson led the Moravian defense with 10 tackles to go with two stops for loss while sophomore linebacker Romello Walters had seven tackles, two passes defended and an interception return 79 yards for a touchdown in his first game on defense after starting the season as a wide receiver. Junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk and sophomore linebacker Noah Breidinger each had seven tackles with Buskirk making one tackle for loss and Breidinger recovering a fumble. Junior defensive lineman Shane Mastro had six tackles with a half a sack while junior defensive lineman Austin Heisler made five tackles with one and a half sacks and two tackles for loss. Junior linebacker Tanner Barr also had five stops.
"Our kids fought for 60 minutes today and I am very proud of them for that," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "We did not have to get effort out of our guys today. They had good intensity. We just didn't make enough plays today. I need to do a better job putting all our players in positions for success. Our kids will get back to work tomorrow, fix our mistakes and move on to Gettysburg."
The first four drives of the game ended with punts before the Greyhounds took over near midfield with 7:03 left in the first quarter. Diez would cap an eight-play, 49-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run. Junior Brendan Morgans made the extra-point to put the Hounds up 7-0 with 3:03 to play in the first quarter.
On the second play of the second quarter with the Bears facing a fourth-and-13, Walters stepped in front of a pass, made the interception then weaved his way 79 yards for the Hounds' second takeaway and first defensive touchdown of the season. Morgans split the uprights with the PAT to set the Moravian lead at 14-0 with 14:40 left in the opening half.
The Bears would get on the score board with 59 seconds before the intermission on an eight-yard touchdown run by Stacey Gardner to cut the Blue and Grey's advantage to 14-7 at the break.
Two plays into the second half, Breidinger jumped on a fumble to set the Moravian offense up at the Ursinus 33-yard line. The Greyhounds moved down to the one-yard line before Mills' fourth down pass to Olsen was knocked away in the end zone.
Ursinus answered and scored on a 68-yard touchdown pass from Thomas Garlick to Octavious Carter to tie the contest at 14-14 with 8:28 left in the third quarter.
Moravian put together a 14-play, 74-yard drive to retake the lead on its next possession with Diez scoring on a one-yard run on third and goal to put the Hounds back ahead. Morgan's extra-point made it 21-14 Greyhounds with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
Samuel Ragland scored on a 38-yard touchdown on a third-and-three play early in the fourth quarter as Ursinus knotted the score again at 21-21 with 13:43 remaining. The Bears forced Moravian into a three-and-punt before scoring on a six-yard from by Garlick to take a 28-21 advantage with 8:46 to play.
Garlick would extend the lead to 35-21 with 3:29 showing on the clock when he raced 76 yards for the Bears' final score of the game.
Little would return the ensuing kickoff 87 yards to set the Greyhounds up at the 12-yard line. Two plays later, Diez raced out to the right and dove inside the pylon for the 12-yard touchdown with Morgan's making the PAT to pull Moravian within a touchdown.
However, the Bears recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to end the game.
The Greyhounds are slated to close out the first half of the season on Saturday, October 5 with a Centennial Conference game at Gettysburg College beginning at 1:00 p.m.