BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team begins a two-game homestand on Saturday, November 2 with a Centennial Conference game versus Franklin & Marshall College. Kickoff is set 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 263 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 126-136-1 record. During the bye week, Pukszyn was inducted into Moravian's Hall of Fame for his playing career.
Franklin & Marshall coach John Troxell (Lafayette '94) has a record of 83-61 in his 14th year at the school.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 32nd in the series with Franklin & Marshall owning a 23-8 advantage. The Diplomats recorded a 40-6 win in Lancaster last season, and F&M posted a 36-14 victory in Bethlehem in 2017. The Greyhounds last win was a 34-19 victory in Bethlehem in 2015. Franklin & Marshall earned a win in the only postseason game between the two schools with a 37-20 victory in the 2004 ECAC Southwest Bowl in Lancaster. The Diplomats won the first eight games between the schools and 15 of the first 16 contests. F&M holds an 8-7 lead over the last 15 games between the schools.
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 2019 Centennial Conference preseason coaches and sports information directors poll while Franklin & Marshall was selected fourth.
BALANCED & EXPERIENCED 'HOUNDS: Of the 86 players on the Moravian roster, 22 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 99-of-172 passes this season for 1,205 yards with eight touchdowns and six 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 675 yards and seven touchdowns on 143 carries while freshman quarterback/running back Sherwin Stewart has rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. Freshman running back Carrington Smith has carried the ball 28 times for 61 yards this season while 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 13 different players catch a pass this season led by junior Nick Petros, who has 35 catches for 382 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Eddie Olsen has 19 receptions for 320 yards and two touchdowns while senior Alex Pierce has 13 receptions for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Andrew Lelie has nine receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown while sophomore Cory Little has caught eight passes for 86 yards. Sophomore Romello Walters caught four for 30 yards before moving to defense while senior running back Roberto Diez has four catches for 48 yards. Senior tight end Nick Cregar has caught three passes for 20 yards and a touchdown while freshman running back Carrington Smith has three receptions for 18 yards. Senior fullback Sal Pagano has two catches this season for one yard while freshman quarterback/running back Sherwin Stewart has two receptions for nine yards. Sophomore tight end Matt Nimas has one reception for 22 yards while junior wide receiver Trevor Cunningham has caught one pass for 11 yards. Junior tight end Kevin Brandt grabbed a two-point conversion in the Greyhounds' victory at Juniata College.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Moravian has four returners on the offensive line with the fifth starter from 2018, junior PJ Weierbach, now on 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 moved into the starting right guard position. The Greyhounds' front five has an average size of 6-2, 275.
DEFENSIVE FRONT: Junior Shane Mastro leads the defensive front with 39 tackles including two and a half sacks and three tackles for loss while junior Austin Heisler has added 33 tackles including four and a half sacks, five and a half tackles for loss, two pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a blocked punt at Gettysburg College. Junior Brady Hornbaker has contributed 23 stops with one sack, three and a half tackles for loss and a forced fumble while junior PJ Weierbach has made 22 tackles with three and a half for loss and, one and a half a sacks, a pass break-up, a fumble recovery versus Susquehanna University and a blocked field goal at Gettysburg in his first season on the defensive side of the ball. Junior Andrew Stein has 10 stops with a half a sack, one and a half tackles for loss and two pass break-ups while senior Mike O'Hagan has recorded eight tackles. Junior Sean Agar has added six tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and a pass break-up while senior Christian Coia has six tackles.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Junior Tanner Barr tops the linebackers and the Moravian defense with 53 tackles with two and a half for loss while sophomore Noah Breidinger has contributed 40 tackles including one for loss, two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery. Sophomore Nicholas Azpeitia has made 18 tackles after moving into the starting line-up versus Susquehanna University while senior Tim Valentine is playing a hybrid linebacker/defensive back and has 15 tackles with an interception and two passes defended. Sophomore Romello Walters moved from offense to defense and is seeing time at linebacker and defensive back, and he has made 15 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 freshman Jack Gawlik also has seven stops with two for loss and a blocked kick while freshman Wes Asche has made seven tackles.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Junior Jackson Buskirk leads the defensive backs with 49 stops with four tackles for loss and four pass break-ups while junior Renard Nicholson has 47 tackles to go with one sack, three tackles for loss and two pass break-ups. Junior Justin McRae has added 21 tackles with an interception versus Susquehanna and five passes defended while sophomore Connor Lyon has 19 tackles and two pass break-ups. Junior Jalen Richardson has contributed seven stops with one tackle for loss.
KICKING GAME: Sophomore transfer Jack Coary is 3-for-4 on extra-points this season, 1-for-1 on field goals with a long of 21 yards and has kicked off 11 times for an average of 55.4 yards with one touchback while freshman Trevor Yacuboski has kicked off 15 times for an average of 57.4 yards with two touchbacks and is 4-for-4 on extra-points and 1-for-1 on field goals with a long of 26 yards. Junior Brendan Morgans is 7-for-9 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 25 times for an average of 38.0 yards, a long of 65 yards, two touchbacks and five inside the 20-yard line while sophomore wide receiver Tadd Barr has punted six times for an average of 34.5 yards with two fair caught. Sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills has punted once this year for 12 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore wide receiver Cory Little has 16 kickoff returns for 514 yards with a long of 87 yards while freshman wide receiver Ethen Aquino has returned five kickoffs for 105 yards with a long of 32 yards. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros has returned two kickoffs for 53 yards with a long of 37 yards while freshman quarterback/running back 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. Junior defensive back Justin McRae has one kickoff return for 18 yards while junior linebacker Tanner Barr has one kickoff return for 11 yards. Junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk has returned four punts for 21 yards while senior running back Nick Princiotta and junior wide receiver Trevor Cunningham have each made three tackles on special teams. Freshman running back Ethan Deater has made four special teams tackles and recovered a fumble while freshman running back Carrington Smith has one special teams tackle and has forced a fumble. Freshman running back Angelo Macera has added three 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 1,379 yards (15th in the record book) on 319 carries with 13 touchdowns in his career. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros is tied for eighth place in school history with 1,585 receiving yards, and he needs 415 yards to become the second wide receiver in school history with 2,000 career yards. Petros is tenth in program history with 104 receptions and needs 56 to set the school record, and he is tied for third with 16 career touchdown receptions, just three shy of setting the school record. He is seventh with a 35.6 career punting average on 121 punts (eighth all-time) for 4,313 yards (eighth in school history). Sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills enters the week needing 472 yards to become the eighth Greyhound to throw for 3,000 yards.
THE CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE STATISTICAL RANKINGS: The Greyhounds are ninth in the Centennial Conference in total offense at 286.3 yards per game, and the squad is ninth in rushing offense with an average of 109.1 yards per contest and seventh in passing offense at 177.1 yards per outing. The Hounds are eighth in the conference in scoring offense at 18.6 points per game, and Moravian is sixth in points allowed at 26.7. Moravian's defense ranks eighth in the Centennial Conference at 380.6 yards allowed per game, and the squad is seventh in rushing defense at 160.9 yards per contest and seventh in passing defense at 219.7 yards allowed. Individually, senior running back Roberto Diez is second in the Centennial Conference at 95.7 rushing yards per contest, and he is fifth in all-purpose yardage at 102.6 yards per game. Junior wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is fifth in the conference in receptions per game at 5.0, eighth in receiving yards per contest at 54.6 and third in punting with an average of 38.0 yards per punt and while sophomore wide receiver Eddie Olsen is ninth in receiving yards per contest at 53.3. Sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills is fifth in the conference in passing yards per game at 200.8, and his sixth in pass efficiency with a 124.8 rating. Junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk is tied for ninth with four punt returns and tied for 10th at 7.0 tackles per contest while sophomore wide receiver Cory Little is fourth with 16 kickoff returns and first in kickoff return average at 32.1. Sophomore linebacker Noah Breidinger is seventh at 8.0 tackles per game while junior linebacker Tanner Barr is tied for eight at 7.6 tackles per contest. Junior defensive back Renard Nicholson is tied for 13th in tackles at 6.7 per outing while junior defensive end Austin Heisler is tied for sixth with four and a half sacks and tied for 13th with five and a half tackles for loss.
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 FRANKLIN & MARSHALL COLLEGE: The Diplomats enter the game at 4-3 overall and 3-3 in Centennial Conference action after a 17-10, double-overtime loss to Dickinson College last week. F&M is being led on the field by junior quarterback Garrett Perschy, who is 93-for-160 for 976 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions. His top targets have been junior wide receiver Tim Walter, who has 27 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns, senior wide receiver Kevin Lammers, who has 17 receptions for 239 yards, and junior wideout Brendan Dearing, who has 16 catches for 209 yards. Junior running back Joe Hartley-Vittoria leads the Diplomats' rushing attack with 439 yards and five touchdowns on 92 carries while senior running back Keshon Farmer has added 428 yards and seven scored on 91 attempts. Senior Eric Harris has run for 133 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries while Perschy has added 68 yards and four scores on 44 attempts. Perschy is also averaging 34.8 yards per punt on 34 punts with four fair caught and nine inside the 20-yard line. Freshman Jack Rodenberger is 16-for-20 on extra points and 4-for-7 on field goals with a lone of 37 yards while freshman Murray McCarthy has connected on his only extra-point attempt and his only field goal attempt of 18 yards. Dearing has returned 15 kickoffs for an average of 21.1 yards while Lammers has eight kickoff returns with an average of 23.4 yards per return and 14 punt returns for an average of 12.1 yards. Senior defensive back Marlen Fenstermacher leads the F&M defense with 36 tackles to go with one and a half tackles for loss, one interception and six passes defended. Freshman linebacker Kevonte Beard and senior linebacker Seb Silva-Muniz each have 30 tackles with Beard adding one for loss with a pass break-up while Silva-Muniz has four tackles for loss, one and a half sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. Sophomore defensive lineman Peyton Snopek has 29 tackles with four for loss and a pair of sacks while sophomore defensive back Thomas Downs has 27 stops, a team-leading three interceptions and five passes defended. Sophomore linebacker Clavin Krippner has contributed 23 tackles with one and a half for loss while junior defensive lineman Jake Perloski leads the Diplomats with two and a half sacks to go with three and a half tackles for loss among his 11 stops.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Lancaster last fall, Moravian had its three-game winning streak stopped as the Greyhounds fell to Franklin & Marshall College, 40-6, in Centennial Conference action. The Hounds picked up 187 yards on 53 plays including 132 through the air. Quarterback Christopher Mills was 13-for-26 for 116 yards with a touchdown, and he also ran five times for two yards while quarterback Doug Erney was 3-for-6 for 16 yards. Wide receiver Nick Petros caught five passes for 24 yards as he became the 20th player in school history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards while wide receiver Eddie Olsen had three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. Running back Roberto Diez led the Moravian rushing attack with 41 yards on 10 carries, and he caught four passes for eight yards while running back Gerald Grube added 15 yards on four rushing attempts. Wide receiver Alex Pierce grabbed two passes for 57 yards while wide receiver Cory Little had one catch for 13 yards and wideout James Pierce had one reception for five yards. Petros was called on nine times to punt, and he averaged 39.7 yards thanks to a school record 74-yard punt in the first quarter. Little returned five kickoffs for 97 yards in the contest. Linebacker Nick Zambelli led the Greyhounds' defense with 10 tackles while defensive back Justin McRae added eight stops. Linebackers Tanner Stokes and Dallas Owen and defensive back Jacob Kober each made six tackles with Kober adding a sack, one and a half tackles for loss and a pass break-up. Defensive lineman Shane Mastro contributed for tackles with one for loss while defensive lineman Nick Tone had three tackles with two for loss. Defensive back Jalen Richardson had two tackles, blocked an extra-point and returned one kickoff for 14 yards. The Diplomats scored twice in the first quarter but missed both extra-point attempts to lead 12-0 after 15 minutes of action. The Greyhounds would get onto the scoreboard with 14:13 left in the second quarter when Mills connected on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Olsen to cap a four-play, 64-yard drive that was started by a 46-yard connection from Mills to Alex Pierce. Jon Miller thought he had cut the deficit to 12-7 but a penalty pushed the PAT back farther, and Miller extended up missing his second attempt, his first career PAT miss for the Hounds. F&M scored twice more in the second quarter to head to the locker room with a 26-6 lead. The Diplomats would then add a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to finish off the scoring.