BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College continues its look back at its 2013-14 athletic campaign with the No. 7 highlight in the Top 10 Exciting Games & Fantastic Finishes – the football team scoring 52 points, 21 in just over two minutes of the second quarter, in a wild 52-42 victory over Franklin & Marshall College.
The Greyhounds and the Diplomats met on a sunny and cool Saturday afternoon at Rocco Calvo Field on October 26 with the game being broadcast live on TV-2 Sports. The Hounds were looking for their first win of the season, and the offense had been showing signs of taking off in the new no-huddle, read-option style they began playing at the start of the season.
"We had a great week of practice heading into the game, and I think that is where the guys got it done," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "They were very focused, very attentive to what we were doing and had great energy."
Moravian received the opening kickoff of the game and quickly drove into the red zone after a 32-yard run by senior quarterback Robbie Moyer. The Greyhounds' drive would stall and turn the ball over on downs but moving the ball down the field was a sign of things to come.
The defense played its part in the game as well to help out the offense. The Hounds had five takeaways in the contest, the first coming when sophomore linebacker Brendan Downey intercepted a pass near midfield to end F&M's opening possession.
"The defense played one of their best games of the year that game," Moyer said. "Every time they were on the field, they all did their job and somehow managed to get us the ball back over and over again. Then when we got the ball our mindset was to score. Coach Tim McGorry was making good calls and everyone was executing them. In return we knew we were going to put up points."
Moyer made sure the Greyhounds didn't spoil the good field position as he found sophomore wide receiver Jimmy McCarthy on a crossing pattern at the goal line for a 13-yard touchdown with 7:50 still to play in the first quarter.
"Scoring on our next drive after they stopped us was huge," stated Moyer. "It was a big confidence booster for our whole team. We got the first drive under our belts and after that it was on, we knew we could score so we did and really got the game started right for us."
The Hounds would get the ball right back as sophomore kicker David Fiumara hit a high, short kickoff down the Moravian sideline that freshman defensive back Noah Miller covered at the 30-yard line to put the offense back on the field. Fiumara would extend the lead to 10-0 with a 23-yard field goal with 5:10 left in the first.
"I think the three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams, came alive in the beginning of the contest, and that is what we kept talking to the players about," Pukszyn said. "We seemed to finish strong early in the season but we never started fast. Against F&M, we started fast and it paid off for us in the long run."
The Moravian defense forced the Diplomats to punt, which was downed at the one-yard line. After setting up third-and-short, Moyer had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown to cut the Moravian lead to 10-7 with 1:39 in the first quarter.
The Hounds would punt for the first time in the game on the opening play of the second quarter as Fiumara, who tied the school record with seven extra points in the win, connected on a school-record 67 yard punt. The teams traded punts for the early part of the second until Moravian junior linebacker Kevin Bracken stripped the ball and gave the Hounds' offense possession near midfield.
Freshman running back Chris Negron capped off the 54-yard drive set up by Bracken with a six-yard run up the middle for his first of two touchdowns on the day, giving the Greyhounds a 17-7 lead with 6:51 before halftime.
After each squad was forced to punt, the scoring took off in the final three minutes of the half as the teams combined for 28 points.
"Scoring that many points right before half was awesome," explained Moyer. "All I remember is the defense going out on that field and somehow getting us the ball right back so we could go score. The defense had an awesome game and they couldn't stop our offense."
Miller would set the Greyhounds' offense up at the Diplomats' 25-yard line after an interception. "Noah did a great job of taking something he'd seen on film all week and putting it into play by jumping the route and making the interception on that play," Pukszyn said.
It took Moyer just one snap to hit pay dirt, finding freshman wide receiver Liam Nolan wide open down the sideline for the touchdown and a 24-7 lead. For Nolan, it was his first career reception in a Moravian uniform.
"On Liam's TD, we had them right where we wanted them and took a shot," Moyer commented. "It is actually kind of nerve wracking to throw the ball to such a wide open receiver because if you miss him and throw a bad ball, you will have a lot of trouble getting over it, plus it is extremely embarrassing."
Three plays into the next F&M possession, an errant pitch by quarterback E.J. Schneider bounced off the turf and into the hands of sophomore defensive back Anthony Orlando, and Orlando raced 45 yards down the Moravian sideline for his first career touchdown and a 31-7 lead with 1:58 still left in the first half.
"I was in the right place at the right time," Orlando explained. "It wasn't a well-timed pitch by the quarterback and it just happened to land right in front of me. When I picked it up and saw the end zone I kind of knew in the back of my head that I was going to score."
The play ended up being the Centennial Conference Play of the Week.
Moyer appreciated the score from the sideline. "Orlando scoring his touchdown on the fumble recovery was a great play," he said. "All I remember is the crowd start to scream and everyone started jumping around running down the field, and when the defense scores it's special. It is a huge momentum booster for us and a killer for the other team."
Orlando ended up leading the defense with 12 tackles that Saturday afternoon. "That was just one of those games where I felt like I couldn't be stopped," he commented. "After a few early tackles my confidence shot up. It was a nice team win."
F&M would get a long kickoff return and a 54 yard pass to set up a short touchdown run, cutting the Hounds' lead to 31-14 with 1:31 on the clock.
Armed with all three of their timeouts, 84 seconds and 73 yards to the end zone, the Greyhounds got to work. Moyer picked up nine yards on first down and Negron followed with a 16 yard run to get to the other side of midfield. Moyer then hit freshman wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio with a 10-yard pass on the sideline to stop the clock and move the ball to the F&M 38. After rushes by Negron and Moyer, both squads took a timeout as the Hounds faced third-and-seven with 28 seconds before the intermission.
Moyer found senior tight end Chase Zimnik with a 30-yard completion to the five-yard line, and then Moyer tossed this third touchdown pass of the game, finding Snyder-Scipio on a fade pattern to the corner of the end zone for a 38-14 lead with just 12 seconds before halftime. Snyder-Scipio caught a total of six passes in the game for 40 yards.
"Scip is a big receiver with great hands and we both knew that," Moyer said. "He had a lot of open field to play with and I had all my confidence in him so, I threw him into space and we both knew he would come down with the touchdown."
When the second half started, the Moravian defense picked up where it had left off, forcing turnovers. Senior defensive back Rees Judge intercepted a pass to give Moravian's offense the ball. Judge made 10 solo tackles in the game as well. However, the Hounds had their second turnover of the game to give the Diplomats the ball back. F&M eventually scored to cut the lead to 38-21 with 7:31 to play in the third quarter.
Moravian didn't need long to get the points back. Negron returned the kickoff 20 yards to set the offense up at the 33-yard line. After Moyer ran for five yards on first down, Negron has runs of three, 55 and four yards, the final one finding the end zone up the middle to extend the lead to 45-21 with 6:17 in the third. Negron became the first Moravian running back since 2005 to run for 200 yards in a game as he finished the afternoon with 218 yards, the sixth best game in school history, on 26 carries. Negron was honored as the Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance. The Hounds ran for a total of 369 yards in the game as Moyer added 134 yards on 28 attempts.
F&M would use the rest of the third quarter to move down the field and score again, cutting the lead to 45-28 with 39 seconds before the fourth quarter started.
The Hounds used the first 7:33 of the final stanza on a 16-play, 74-yard drive for their final score of the afternoon. Just as the first touchdown of the afternoon, it was Moyer to McCarthy, this time on a 12-yard scoring strike to the back right corner of the end zone, only the second pass play on the drive. For Moyer, the fourth TD pass of game tied the school record, and he was 12-for-20 in the game for 124 yards in the air. Both of McCarthy's receptions in the game were four touchdowns.
"I was only able to have the game I had because of the team around me," Moyer commented on his afternoon. "We all went out there did our job and we had a great time doing it. It was a real special game to be part of and will definitely be one game I will never forget. We always knew we could do it; it just took a little time to show it. It is tough implementing a new offense in one season, but I have high hopes for next year and think they will do good things in 2014."
The Diplomats scored the final two touchdowns of the game before the Greyhounds ran out the clock to seal the victory. Moravian had 483 yards of total offense in the game on 81 plays as the squads combined for 994 yards on 167 snaps.
The five takeaways gave the Hounds 18 for the season at that point, and the defense ended up forcing 23 turnovers during the season and scoring three times.
"Forcing turnovers is something our defense did very well all season," stated Orlando. "That game was just one of those games where all the right things were happening. We knew our offense could score so we just wanted to get them the ball as much as possible."
You can check out the original game day story at http://moraviansports.com/sports/fball/2013-14/releases/20131026rrjd4d.
Top 10 Exciting Games & Fantastic Finishes of 2013-14
#10 – Field Hockey Wins Back to Back Overtime Games
#9 – Softball Walks Off in 10th to Earn Split with Catholic
#8 – Baseball Walks Off Twice to Sweep Catholic
#7 – Football Scores 52 Points in Wild Win over F&M
#6 – TBA
#5 – TBA
#4 – TBA
#3 – TBA
#2 – TBA
#1 – TBA