BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team concludes the first half of the 2019 season by traveling to Gettysburg College on Saturday, October 5 in a Centennial Conference game. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. at Shirk Field at Musselman Stadium in Gettysburg.
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 260 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 124-135-1 record.
Gettysburg coach Kevin Burke (Gettysburg '90) is in his second season leading his alma mater after serving as the Bullets offensive coordinator for 14 seasons. Burke was the head coach at Juniata College from 1998 through 2003, leading the Eagles to a 25-35 record.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 18th in the series with Gettysburg owning a 12-5 advantage. The Greyhounds won last year's game 59-23 in Bethlehem, while the Bullets captured the 2017 game 28-14 in Gettysburg and a 52-21 victory in 2016 to snap a three-game Moravian winning streak. The Hounds won the first game in the series before the Bullets captured 10 straight contests. The Blue and Grey have now won four of the last six games.
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 2016 Centennial Conference preseason coaches and sports information directors poll while Gettysburg was selected ninth.
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 45-of-95 passes this season for 496 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 398 yards and four touchdowns on 88 carries while freshman running back Carrington Smith has carried the ball 17 times for 28 yards this season. Freshman quarterback Sherwin Stewart has rushed for 27 yards on 10 carries while sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills has 20 yards on 12 attempts. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros has contributed seven yards on two carries and sophomore wide receiver/linebacker Romello Walters has one attempt for three yards.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS: The Greyhounds have had 10 different players catch a pass this season led by junior Nick Petros, who has 18 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Eddie Olsen has 10 receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown while sophomore Cory Little has caught six passes for 73 yards. Senior wide receiver Andrew Lelie has four receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown while sophomore Romello Walters has four catches for 30 yards. Senior Alex Pierce has three receptions for 36 yards while Senior tight end Nick Cregar has caught two passes for 15 yards. Senior running back Roberto Diez has one catch for 13 yards while 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 Zack 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 20 tackles including four and a half sacks, five and a half tackles for loss and a pass break-up while junior Shane Mastro has also added 20 tackles including two and a half sacks and three tackles for loss. Junior PJ Weierbach has made 15 tackles with three and a half for loss and one and a half a sacks in his first season on the defensive side of the ball while junior Brady Hornbaker has contributed 15 stops with half a sack and three tackles for loss. Senior Mike O'Hagan has recorded six tackles while junior Andrew Stein has four stops with one for loss and two pass break-ups. Junior Sean Agar has added three tackles while senior Christian Coia has two tackles.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Sophomore Noah Breidinger tops the linebackers and the Moravian defense with 33 tackles including one for loss, two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery while junior Tanner Barr has contributed 22 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 sophomore Romello Walters has nine tackles to go with two passes defended and an interception returned 79 yards for a touchdown versus Ursinus College, his first game on defense. Junior Kyle Kooker has seven tackles with one and a half for loss while sophomore Nicholas Azpeitia has made seven tackles. Freshman Jack Gawlik has three stops with one for loss and a blocked kick while freshman Wes Asche has made two tackles.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Junior Renard Nicholson leads the defensive backs and is tied for the team lead with 33 tackles to go with one sack, three tackles for loss and two pass break-ups while junior Jackson Buskirk has 24 stops with four tackles for loss and two pass break-ups. Sophomore Connor Lyon has 12 tackles and a pass break-up while junior Justin McRae has added 12 tackles as well with one pass break-up. Junior Jalen Richardson has contributed seven stops with one tackle for loss while freshman Delano McKenzie has one tackle with a 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 nine times for an average of 58.1 yards with two touchbacks. Junior Brendan Morgans is 5-for-5 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 17 times for an average of 38.6 yards, a long of 65 yards, two touchbacks and three 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. Sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills has punted once this year for 12 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore wide receiver Cory Little has seven kickoff returns for 261 yards with a long of 87 yards while freshman defensive back Delano McKenzie has returned four kickoffs for 79 yards. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros has returned two kickoffs for 53 yards with a long of 37 yards while freshman quarterback Sherwin Stewart has returned two kickoffs for 49 yards with a long of 27 yards. Sophomore wide receiver/linebacker Romello Walters has one kickoff return for 21 yards while junior defensive back Jalen Richardson has returned one kickoff for 19 yards and junior defensive back Justin McRae has one kickoff return for 18 yards. Junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk has returned three punts for 19 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 became the 25th Greyhound to reach 1,000 career rushing yards versus Ursinus College, and he has 1,102 yards (23rd in the record book) on 264 carries with 10 touchdowns in his career. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros sits in 15th place in school history with 1,382 receiving yards, and he needs 150 yards to reach the top 10. Petros also needs 13 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 seventh with a 35.6 career punting average on 113 punts (10th all-time) for 4,019 yards (eighth in school history). Sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills enters the week needing 181 yards to reach 2,000 yards passing and 1,181 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 242.5 yards per game, and the squad is eighth in rushing offense with an average of 109.8 yards per contest and ninth in passing offense at 132.8 yards per outing. The Hounds are tenth in the conference in scoring offense at 14.5 points per game, and Moravian is eighth in points allowed at 28.0. Moravian's defense ranks eighth in the Centennial Conference at 405.8 yards allowed per game, and the squad is seventh in rushing defense at 150.0 yards per contest and ninth in passing defense at 255.8 yards allowed. Individually, junior wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is sixth in the conference in receptions per game at 4.5 and second in punting with an average of 38.6 yards per punt and while senior running back Roberto Diez is second in the Centennial Conference at 98.3 rushing yards per contest, sixth in all-purpose yardage at 101.5 yards per game and tied for seventh in scoring at 6.0 points per game. Junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk is tenth with three punt returns while sophomore wide receiver Cory Little is tied for fifth with seven kickoff returns and first in kickoff return average at 37.3. Sophomore linebacker Noah Breidinger and junior defensive back Renard Nicholson are both tied for seventh at 8.3 tackles per game. Junior defensive end Austin Heisler is tied for second with four and a half sacks and tied for sixth with five and a half tackles for loss while junior Shane Mastro is tied for eighth with two and a half 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 GETTYSBURG COLLEGE: The Bullets enter the game at 0-4 overall and 0-3 in Centennial Conference action after a 32-22 loss to McDaniel College last Saturday. Junior quarterback Matt Harris has completed 32-of-81 passes for 403 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions while freshman Logan Edmond has completed 25-of-58 passes for 341 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions. Their top targets have been sophomore wide receiver Matt Lajoie, who has 14 catches for 225 yards, junior running back Mike Welsh, who has caught 11 passes for 71 yards, and senior wide receiver Kevin Benavente, who has eight receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver Linwood Nicholas, Jr. has one touchdown and 103 yards on three catches while senior wide receiver Ryan Loftus has one touchdown and 17 yards on two receptions. Edmond leads the Gettysburg rushing attack with 165 yards and a touchdown\ on 45 attempts while Welsh has a team-high 48 carries to go with 152 yards and a score. Freshman wide receiver Matty Mulcahy has 48 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries while sophomore running back Chris Vass has a touchdown and 41 yards on 12 attempts and Harris has run for 23 yards and a touchdown on 41 carries. Lajoie has returned 17 kickoffs for 247 yards while Benavente has five punt returns for 12 yards. Senior Evan Tannenbaum has punted 31 times for an average of 37.94 yards to go with three fair caught and seven inside the 20-yard line while sophomore Doug Cummings is 6-for-6 on extra points and 2-for-2 on field goals with a long of 36 yards, and he has kickoff 10 times for an average of 56.4 yards with one touchback. Sophomore linebacker Alex Stillman leads the Bullets' defense with 35 tackles including one for loss, an interception and two passes defended. Sophomore linebacker Matt Lynch has added 31 tackles with four and a half for loss, a sack and an interception while junior defensive back Justin Lessel has 20 tackles, five passes defended, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a half a tackle for loss. Senior defensive lineman Ryan Greene also has 20 stops with one for loss while sophomore Von Musgrove has 19 tackles with one for loss and a blocked kick. Sophomore defensive tackle Alex Raimondo leads Gettysburg with five tackles for loss and three sacks among his 17 stops.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Bethlehem last fall, Moravian quarterback Christopher Mills made his first career start one to remember as he connected on 12-of-13 passes for 336 yards and a school record five touchdowns in the first half as the Greyhounds raced out to a 45-0 lead enroute to a 59-23 victory over Gettysburg College in Centennial Conference action at Rocco Calvo Field. Mills tossed four of his TD passes to wide receiver Nick Petros, who had school records of 241 yards receiving, breaking the school mark of 222 set by Dale Houser in 1984, and four touchdowns. Petros snagged passes of 78, 69, 34 and 33 yards for touchdowns in the first half from Mills. Kicker Jon Miller would get into the records as well with a school mark of eight extra-points, and he added a career-long 37-yard field goal to score 11 of the Hounds' 59 points. Wide receiver Eddie Olsen caught Mills' other scoring strike of 29 yards, and Olsen finished with two catches for 39 yards while wide receiver Alex Pierce had three receptions for 48 yards. Fullback Andrew Stein had one catch for 12 yards while wide receiver James Pierce had one reception for eight yards and wideout Cory Little had one catch for five yards. Quarterback Doug Erney completed 2-of-5 passes for 17 yards. Moravian ran for 215 yards on the ground with running back Gerald Grube recording his first career 100-yard game with 104 yards on 13 carries that included a 72-yard run in the third quarter. Running back Roberto Diez added 74 yards on 14 attempts while Eli Redmond picked up 36 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Mills added four yards on three attempts while Devon Bucks had one yard on two carries. Mills and the Moravian offense racked up 568 yards on 60 plays while the Greyhounds' defense limited the Bullets to 381 yards on 92 plays while forcing six turnovers including five interceptions. Linebacker Dallas Owen and defensive back Jalen Richardson each had two interceptions with Owen returning one 50 yards for a touchdown while defensive back Renard Nicholson had an interception. Defensive lineman Sean Agar recovered a fumble for the Greyhounds. Linebacker Noah Breidinger led the Moravian defense with eight tackles including a half a tackle for loss while defensive lineman Nick Tone had seven stops with a half a tackle for loss. Linebacker Tanner Stokes and linebacker Tanner Barr both had six tackles with Stokes adding a pass break-up while Richardson, defensive lineman Tijir Bleam, linebacker Nick and linebacker Blake Reed each had five stops. A total of 30 different Greyhounds had tackles in the game. The game had an auspicious start for the Greyhounds with Diez fumbling on the first play after the opening kickoff. However, Moravian's defense would hold in the red zone with Breidinger and Zambelli stopping Gettysburg quarterback Mike Welsh for no gain on a fourth-and-one at the seven-yard line. The Greyhounds took over deep in their own territory, and after a pair of Diez runs, Mills connected on his first career pass attempt for 10 yards to Alex Pierce. After another run by Diez and a completion to Pierce, Mills found Petros with a 69-yard catch-and-run touchdowns as the Blue and Grey took a 7-0 lead with 9:47 to play in the first quarter. After the teams traded punts, Richardson came up with his first interception of Welsh to set the Moravian offense up at its own 22-yard line. Mills needed one play to get the Hounds back on the scoreboard as he found Petros with a 78-yard score that saw Petros shake off a tackler as he made the catch before racing to the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 6:03 left in the first. Richardson would intercept Welsh two plays into the Bullets' next drive, returning the ball 22 yards to midfield. Mills capped the five-play drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Olsen on a slant play as the Greyhounds extended the lead to 21-0 with 2:52 to play in the opening quarter. The Greyhounds would bring Miller on to connect on a career-long 37-yard field goal attempt 3:30 into the second quarter as Moravian pushed the lead to 24-0. Owen would break up the next Gettysburg drive when he grabbed a tipped pass and returned the interception 10 yards to the Gettysburg 43-yard line. Diez carries the ball twice before Mills and Petros connected again for a 34-yard touchdown pass. Miller made the fourth of his PAT kicks for a 31-0 lead with 8:25 left before the intermission. Later in the quarter after a fourth down stop, Redmond would cap a four-play, 34-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run, his first score of the season as the Blue and Grey's lead expanded to 38-0 with 1:07 left in the quarter. Moravian's defense forced another quick turnover on downs, and Mills finished the first half with a 33-yard scoring strike to Petros with just two seconds before the intermission as the Greyhounds headed to the locker room with a 45-0 lead. The Bullets had the ball first in the second half but punted; however, they would get the ball back after a fumble by Grube. The Hounds would score four plays into the Gettysburg possession as Owen intercepted another tipped pass and raced 50 yards down the near sideline for a touchdown that gave the Greyhounds a 52-0 advantage. Gettysburg would get on the scoreboard on its next possession as Justin Geisel hit a 26-yard field goal. Moravian answered back with its final points of the game as Grube ran for three yards before finding a hole on the right side and bouncing out to the far sideline for a 72-yard touchdown run. Miller's record-setting PAT game the Greyhounds a 59-3 lead with 6:23 remaining in the third quarter. While the Hounds began to empty the bench, Gettysburg would score 20 points with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of field goals over the final 10:48 of the contest to close the final to 59-23.