BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team finishes off the 2019 season with a Centennial Conference game at rival No. 5 Muhlenberg College. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. at Frank Marino Field at Scotty Wood Stadium in Allentown. The winner of Saturday's contest will take home the Sodexo Trophy and the Most Valuable Players of the Game for each squad will be announced after the contest is completed.
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 264 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 127-136-1 record. During the bye week, Pukszyn was inducted into Moravian's Hall of Fame for his playing career.
Muhlenberg coach Nate Milne (Hobart '03) has a record of 20-2 in his second year.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 68th in the series with Moravian holding a 33-32-2 advantage. Muhlenberg posted a 53-7 victory in Bethlehem last November for its eighth straight win in the series, and the Mules recorded a 26-14 win in Allentown in 2017. The Mules longest winning streak between the schools. The Greyhounds' last win in the series a 14-13 triumph in 2010 in Bethlehem. The last time the schools met with Muhlenberg undefeated and ranked in the top 10 was in 2008 with the Greyhounds spoiling the perfect regular season for the Mules with a 27-24 overtime win at Rocco Calvo Field.
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 Muhlenberg was selected second with four first-place vote. The Mules have already clinched the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
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 141-of-241 passes this season for 1,723 yards with 12 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 809 yards and eight touchdowns on 184 carries while freshman quarterback/running back Sherwin Stewart has rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown on 43 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 14 different players catch a pass this season led by junior Nick Petros, who has 48 catches for 557 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Alex Pierce has 29 receptions for 428 yards and four touchdowns while sophomore Eddie Olsen has 19 receptions for 320 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Andrew Lelie has 13 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown while senior running back Roberto Diez has 11 catches for 116 yards. Sophomore Cory Little has caught nine passes for 91 yards and a score. while sophomore Romello Walters caught four for 30 yards before moving to defense. 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. Senior offensive lineman Zack Cregar caught a deflected pass against Dickinson College. 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. Senior Matt Shields has also seen action on the line this season.
DEFENSIVE FRONT: Junior Austin Heisler leads the defensive front with 40 tackles including five sacks, six tackles for loss, two pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a blocked punt at Gettysburg College while junior Shane Mastro has added 39 tackles including two and a half sacks and three tackles for loss. Junior Brady Hornbaker has contributed 31 stops with one sack, five and a half tackles for loss, a pass break-up 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. Senior Mike O'Hagan has recorded 17 tackles while junior Andrew Stein has 15 stops with a half a sack, three tackles for loss and two pass break-ups. Senior Christian Coia has 13 tackles with a half a sack and one tackle for loss while junior Sean Agar has added six tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and a pass break-up and sophomore Brandon Nemeth has two stops.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Junior Tanner Barr tops the linebackers with 64 tackles with four for loss and a blocked extra-point versus Franklin & Marshall College 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 28 tackles after moving into the starting line-up versus Susquehanna University while senior Tim Valentine is playing a hybrid linebacker/defensive back and has 20 tackles with two interceptions and three passes defended. Sophomore Romello Walters moved from offense to defense and is seeing time at linebacker and defensive back, and he has made 17 tackles with one for loss to go with three passes defended and an interception returned 79 yards for a touchdown versus Ursinus College, his first game on defense. Freshman Wes Asche has made 13 tackles with a half a tackle for loss while freshman Jack Gawlik has nine stops with two for loss and a blocked kick. Junior Kyle Kooker has seven tackles with one and a half for loss.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Junior Jackson Buskirk leads the defensive backs and the Moravian defense with 66 stops with seven tackles for loss, an interception and six passes defended 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 24 tackles with an interception versus Susquehanna and five passes defended while sophomore Connor Lyon has 20 tackles, two interceptions versus Dickinson College and four passes defended. Sophomore Nate Chapman has 10 tackles since entering the lineup due to injuries while junior Jalen Richardson has contributed seven stops with one tackle for loss and sophomore Vincent Scaglia has made three stops.
KICKING GAME: Freshman Trevor Yacuboski has kicked off 18 times for an average of 54.6 yards with two touchbacks and is 9-for-9 on extra-points and 3-for-4 on field goals with a long of 42 yards while sophomore 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 17 times for an average of 55.0 yards with one touchback. 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 33 times for an average of 37.3 yards, a long of 65 yards, three touchbacks, one fair caught and seven 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 19 kickoff returns for 581 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 junior defensive end Austin Heisler has one kickoff return for four yards. Senior running back Nick Princiotta has contributed four tackles on special teams while junior wide receiver Trevor Cunningham has three stops. Freshman running backs Ethan Deater and Angelo Macera have each made six special teams tackles with Deater recovering a fumble while freshman running back Carrington Smith has one special teams tackle and has forced a fumble.
MILESTONE WATCH: The Greyhounds have four 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 1,513 yards (14th in the record book) on 360 carries with 14 touchdowns in his career. Junior wide receiver Nick Petros is fifth in school history with 1,760 receiving yards, and he needs 240 yards to become the second wide receiver in school history with 2,000 career yards. Petros is eighth in program history with 117 receptions and needs 44 to set the school record, and he is tied for second with 17 career touchdown receptions, just two shy of setting the school record. He is tied for sixth with a 35.6 career punting average on 129 punts (eighth all-time) for 4,593 yards (eighth in school history). Sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills enters the week needing 954 yards to become the seventh Greyhound to throw for 4,000 yards after becoming the ninth Hound to reach 3,000 passing yards with a career-best 341 yards versus Dickinson College. Senior wide receiver Alex Pierce became the 21st wide receiver in school history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards after a career-best 12 catches for 160 yards against Dickinson. Pierce is 20th all-time with 1,044 yards on 76 receptions.
THE CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE STATISTICAL RANKINGS: The Greyhounds are eighth in the Centennial Conference in total offense at 300.7 yards per game, and the squad is tenth in rushing offense with an average of 105.3 yards per contest and sixth in passing offense at 195.3 yards per outing. The Hounds are eighth in the conference in scoring offense at 19.0 points per game, and Moravian is sixth in points allowed at 23.2. Moravian's defense ranks seventh in the Centennial Conference at 365.0 yards allowed per game, and the squad is fifth in rushing defense at 148.6 yards per contest and seventh in passing defense at 216.4 yards allowed. Individually, senior running back Roberto Diez is second in the Centennial Conference at 89.3 rushing yards per contest, and he is fourth in all-purpose yardage at 102.2 yards per game and eighth in touchdown scoring at 5.3 points per game. Junior wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is second in the conference in receptions per game at 5.3, fourth in receiving yards per contest at 61.9 and third in punting with an average of 37.3 yards per punt. Sophomore quarterback Christopher Mills is fifth in the conference in passing yards per game at 215.4, and his fifth in pass efficiency with a 130.0 rating. Junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk is tied for tenth with four punt returns and tied for eighth at 7.3 tackles per contest while sophomore wide receiver Cory Little is tied for fifth with 19 kickoff returns and first in kickoff return average at 30.6. Sophomore linebacker Noah Breidinger is seventh at 8.0 tackles per game while junior linebacker Tanner Barr is tied 11th at 7.1 tackles per contest. Junior defensive back Renard Nicholson is 14th in tackles at 6.7 per outing while junior defensive end Austin Heisler is tied for eighth with five 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 MUHLENBERG COLLEGE: The Mules, who are ranked No. 5 in the nation in the latest D3football.com poll, enter the game at 9-0 overall and 8-0 in Centennial Conference action after 44-3 victory over Gettysburg College last Saturday. Junior quarterback Michael Hnatkowsky leads Muhlenberg on the field having completed 159-of-231 passes for 2,249 yards with 29 touchdowns and three interceptions. His top targets have been senior tight end Ryan Curtiss, who has 33 catches for 455 yards and eight touchdowns, junior wide receiver Mitch Daniel, who has 32 receptions for 438 yards and four scores, junior wide receiver Nick Ugarte, who has caught 28 passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Max Kirin, who has 26 receptions for 553 yards and 10 touchdowns. Junior running back James Diggs leads the Mules rushing attack with 603 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries while senior running back Mark Riggio has 295 yards and three scores on 83 attempts and senior running back Nick DeLucas has 262 yards and two touchdowns on 65 carries. Hnatkowsky has run for 102 yards and three scores on 34 attempts. Senior kicker Todd Spirt is 47-for-49 on extra-points and 8-for-9 on field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards while sophomore punter Kevin Olifiers is averaging 37.9 yards per punt on 27 attempts with a long of 55 yards and 12 inside the 20-yard line. Junior wide receiver Sean Jansson has returned 21 punts for an average of 9.2 yards while junior defensive back Daymon Fleming has seven kickoff returns for an average of 31.6 yards and sophomore defensive back John Washington has returned 11 kickoff returns for 25.8 yards per return. Senior defensive back Joseph O'Hagan leads the Muhlenberg defense with 51 tackles and three interceptions to go with four and a half tackles for loss, one sack, nine passes defended and two forced fumbles. Senior defensive end Frankie Feaster has contributed 49 tackles with team-highs of 18 and a half for loss and ten and a half sacks to go with three pass break-ups, four blocked kicks, one fumble recovery and three punt returns for 30 yards while senior linebacker Mickey Kober has 48 tackles with four tackles for loss, one sack, one pass break-up and two fumble recoveries. Junior linebacker Sprencer Kirin has contributed 43 tackles with seven and a half for loss, five and a half sacks, an interception and a forced fumble while junior linebacker Joshua Barnett has 40 tackles with two for loss, a pass break-up and a fumble recovery and junior defensive back Nick Sirico has added 34 stops with two for loss, seven passes defended, two interceptions and a blocked kick.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Bethlehem last fall, Moravian saw its 2018 season come to a close as the Greyhounds fell to rival Muhlenberg College, 53-7, in Centennial Conference action at Rocco Calvo Field as the Hounds celebrated Senior Day. The Greyhounds had 220 yards of offense in the game with 143 through the air as quarterback Christopher Mills completed 13-of-27 passes with a touchdown and two interceptions. Wide receiver Nick Petros caught four passes for 43 yards to become just the third receiver in school history to reach 1,000 yards in a season as he finished the year with 57 catches for 1,017 yards and a school-record 11 touchdowns. Petros also punted five times for an average of 36.8 yards with a long of 54 yards. Wide receiver Alex Pierce also had four catches against Muhlenberg for 38 yards while wideout Eddie Olsen added three receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Cory Little caught one pass for 25 yards and had one kickoff return of eight yards while running back Roberto Diez had one catch for five yards. Running back Eli Redmond led the rushing attack with 35 yards on 13 carries as he finished his career 11th in Moravian history with 2,066 yards on 429 rushing attempts. Senior running back Devon Bucks had 26 yards on five carries in his final collegiate contest while Diez ran for 25 yards on seven attempts. Running back Gerald Grube added 19 yards on four carries while fullback Sal Pagano returned a kickoff for 13 yards. Defensive back Jackson Buskirk was selected as the Moravian's Most Valuable Player of the Game after leading the Greyhounds' defense with 13 tackles. Defensive back Jacob Kober registered 11 tackles with a half a tackle for loss while linebacker Dallas Owen made nine stops and forced a fumble. Linebacker Nick Zambelli had seven tackles as he finished his career as a two-year captain while defensive lineman Vincent Pianoforte and linebacker Noah Breidinger each had six tackle with Pianoforte adding a half a tackle for loss. Defensive lineman Shane Mastro and linebacker Brady Hornbaker each made five tackle with Hornbaker making one behind the line of scrimmage while Tone, defensive lineman Christian Coia and defensive back Justin McRae each had four stops with Coia making one for loss and Tone knocking down a pass. Defensive back Jalen Richardson had two tackles, a fumble recovery, a pass break-up and a kickoff return of 11 yards while fullback Andrew Stein and defensive back Renard both had two stops. The Mules scored the first three times they had the ball for a 20-0 lead in the first quarter, and Muhlenberg headed to the locker room with a 33-0 advantage. The Greyhounds forced a three-and-out on the Mules first possession of the second half. Mills would lead the Blue and Grey on an 11-play, 79-yard drive to the squad's only points of the game. Early in the drive, Mills hit Olsen and Pierce with first down completions on third-and-four plays before Mills finished off the drive with a third-and-goal pass to Olsen for a five-yard touchdown. Miller added the extra-point to make the score 33-7 with 7:34 to go in the third quarter. The PAT was the 46th of Miller's career as he finished in seventh in the Moravian record books, and he is also eighth all-time among Greyhound kickers with 67 total points. The Mules answered with another score, and then after a kickoff into the wind would bounce back to Muhlenberg, the Mules lead 47-7 after three quarters.