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Moravian Uses Balanced Attack to Race Past Gettysburg

Senior wide receiver Alex Pierce pulls in a 36-yard reception to set up a touchdown just before halftime at Gettysburg College. Photo by Andy Grosh
Senior wide receiver Alex Pierce pulls in a 36-yard reception to set up a touchdown just before halftime at Gettysburg College. Photo by Andy Grosh

GETTYSBURG, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team ran for 174 yards and two touchdowns and passes for 251 yards and three more scores as the Greyhounds finished off the first half of the season with a 33-16 victory at Gettysburg College in Centennial Conference Saturday afternoon.

Senior running back Roberto Diez posted his third straight career high with 174 yards on 31 carries while freshman running back Carrington Smith added eight yards on two attempts. Freshman quarterback/running back Sherwin Stewart ran for two yards and a touchdown on four carries while sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills had one touchdown on four attempts.

Mills also completed 18-of-24 passes for 251 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros caught a team-high seven passes for 64 yards, and he also punted three times for an average of 41.3 yards. Senior wide receiver Alex Pierce caught six passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns, the second 100-yard game of his career and first with multiple touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Eddie Olsen had four receptions for 70 yards while senior tight end Nick Cregar had one catch for a five-yard touchdown, his first career touchdown.

Junior linebacker Tanner Barr ed the Moravian defense with 14 tackles while junior defensive lineman Shane Mastro had eight stops and would get a hand on an extra-point attempt that still made it through the uprights. Sophomore linebacker Noah Breidinger added seven tackles while junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk had six stops and a pass break-up. Junior defensive lineman Austin Heisler contributed five tackles, a pass break-up, a forced fumble and a blocked punt while sophomore linebacker Romello Walters also had five stops. Junior defensive lineman PJ Weierbach had four tackles with a blocked field goal while freshman defensive back Delano McKenzie recovered a fumble for the Hounds.

"It is the weekend of fall break and it is a long trip out here to Gettysburg but the team did an unbeleivable job with their effort," commented Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "It was not a perfect game but a contest we helped out each other on both sides of the football. The defense was able to get off of the field on a few third downs that we really needed to, and also converting a couple of third downs on offense. We had a turnover but got the ball right back on the next play. Those things through the course of the game made a difference. I proud of the guys being really good teammates to each other today."

Each team punted on its first possession of the afternoon before the Blue and Grey took over at their own 43-yard line. Diez rushed five times on the eight-play drive for 38 yards including a 20-yard run to put the ball inside the 10-yard line. On the next play, Stewart ran in from eight yards out for his first career touchdown. Junior Brendan Morgans had his extra-point sail wide to the right as Moravian took a 6-0 lead with 7:52 left in the first quarter.

Gettysburg responded with a five-play, 92-yard drive to move ahead 7-6 just 2:02 later.

Sophomore wide receiver Cory Little returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to set up the Hounds' offense. Mills hit Olsen with a 45-yard pass to get back into the red zone, and on a third-and-goal from the one, Mills reached a quarterback sneak over the goal-line for a touchdown. Morgans split the upright as Moravian moved back in front 13-7 with 2:46 left in the opening quarter.

The Hounds' defense forced the Bullets to turn the ball over on downs early in the second quarter, and the offense turned the defensive stand into points as Mills connected with Pierce on a 24-yard scoring strike. Morgans connected on another PAT to push the advantage to 20-7 with 9:30 before the intermission.

Gettysburg put together a 12-play, 73-yard drive late in the quarter but the Moravian defense made the Bullets settle for a 28-yard field goal to make it 20-10 with 47 seconds to play.

Little returned the kickoff 41 yards, and a penalty at the end of the play moved the ball to the Gettysburg 41-yard line. Mills hit Pierce with a 36-yard pass down the far sideline to move into the red zone for the third time in the half, and Mills then found Cregar in the back of the end zone for a touchdown with seven seconds before the intermission. Moravian missed the extra-point again and headed to the locker room with a 26-10 lead.

Gettysburg scored the only points of the third quarter with a 16-play, 88-yard drive to get into the end zone. The Bullets went for the two-point conversion, but the pass was knocked down in the end zone to set the score at 26-16 with 1:16 left in the third period.

Moravian would put the game out of reach early in the fourth when Mills and Pierce connected on a 30-yard touchdown. Sophomore Jack Coary hit the extra-point as the Greyhounds led 33-16 with 12:27 to play.

Heisler blocked the punt on Gettysburg's next possession; however, Mills was intercepted three played into the drive. It took the Greyhounds one play to get the ball back as Heisler stripped the ball loose and McKenzie recovered

The Bullets had one final chance to score with three and a half minutes remaining, but Weierbach blocked the 33-yard field goal attempt. Moravian then had Diez run for two more first downs before kneeling down twice to run out the clock for the victory.

After the conference wide bye week next Saturday, the Greyhounds will return to action on Saturday, October 19 when the squad hosts Susquehanna University in Centennial Conference action at Rocco Calvo Field. Kickoff for the annual Homecoming game is set for 1:00 p.m.