BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College is continuing its look back at its 2016-17 athletic campaign. The next event in the Top 10 Exciting Games from the past year is our No. 4 highlight – the football team rallying from a 32-24 deficit with nine points in the final seven minutes for a 33-32 win at Ursinus College.
The Greyhounds, who finished the season with a 5-5 record, improved to 4-1 on the season and 3-1 in Centennial Conference action after the come-from-behind victory. The Hounds trailed by as many as 12 points in the game and had two turnovers returned for touchdowns but the squad was able to overcome the miscues and earn the win.
On the afternoon of October 1, the Greyhounds traveled to Ursinus for their second road game of the season as the squad finished off the first half of the season before the bye week. The Bears scored the only points of the first quarter with a late touchdown but missed on the extra point to lead 6-0 after 15 minutes of action.
Ursinus added a field goal three and a half minutes into the second quarter to push its lead to 9-0. The teams then combined for 25 points in the final five and a half minutes of the half. Moravian would get onto the scoreboard with 5:29 before the intermission when senior quarterback Mike Hayes scored on a four-yard run. A bad snap on the extra point attempt led junior quarterback and holder Kordell Theadford to scoop up the loose ball and run it in for a two-point conversion to cut the score to 9-8. The scoring drive was set up by an interception by sophomore defensive back Nick Zambelli.
Moravian's defense forced a three-and-out by the Bears; however, on the first play by the Hounds, Ursinus intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown to push the lead to 16-8. The Greyhounds would get three more points on their next possession when sophomore kicker Kenny Kane connected on a 34-yard field goal that bounced off of the cross bar to make the deficit 16-11 with 2:02 before the intermission. Ursinus had a long kickoff return and used the field position to score another touchdown before halftime to head to the locker room with a 23-11 lead.
The Bears opened the second half with the ball and were driving until senior defensive back Khalil Raymond intercepted a pass in the red zone and returned in it 36 yards. Moravian again used the turnover to drive down and score when Hayes connected on a nine-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Aaron Hudson, who caught a team-high nine passes for 79 yards with the score. Kane's extra-point cut the Blue and Grey's deficit to five points, 23-18, with 9:09 still to play in the third quarter, and that would still be the score after 45 minutes of action.
Hayes would give Moravian its first lead on the opening play of the fourth quarter when he scored on another four-yard run, and he had a team-high 68 yards on 12 rushing attempts to go with his two touchdowns. The Greyhounds went for a two-point conversion but the pass failed as the Hounds' edge remained at 24-23.
"Offensive coordinator Tim McGorry made some great halftime adjustments that helped us in the pass game in the second half," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "Everyone on offense did their part to help put points on the board."
The Bears retook the lead with 9:33 to play on a 20-yard field goal, and it only took Ursinus another 25 seconds to extend the lead to 32-24 with another interception return for a touchdown. A key play for Moravian was another missed extra-point by the Bears following the score.
Hayes, who finished the game 33-of-51 for 274 yards and one touchdown, connected on six passes to move Moravian to the four-yard line, and junior defensive lineman Jorden Stout scored on a two-yard run. The Greyhounds attempted another two-point conversion to tie the game but the pass failed again leaving the Blue & Grey trailing, 32-30, with 6:51 to play.
Moravian's defense would get the ball back in just two plays. Ursinus's quarterback was unable to handle a snap and fumbled. Stout would scoop up the football and return it eight yards to the Ursinus 12-yard line. The Bears would only allow Moravian six yards on three rushing plays before Kane came on and connected on a 23-yard field goal to give the Greyhounds a 33-32 lead with 3:54 left in the fourth quarter.
The Hounds' defense forced a punt after three plays before the offense ran out the clock with a pair of first downs including a 15-yard run by senior running back Chris Negron, who finished the afternoon with 56 yards on 18 carries.
"The Ursinus game was a great team win," Pukszyn said. "Our special teams came up big all day. We had good returns, a partially blocked punt and a bad extra-point snap that Kordell picked up and turned into two points. Kenny's two field goals ultimately made the difference in the game."
In addition to the three turnovers, Moravian's defense also allowed the Bears just five rushing yards on 20 attempts. Senior linebacker Edward Delia led the squad with 17 tackles.
"The pick Khalil had at the beginning of the second half was crucial to stop their momentum," noted Pukszyn. "Ed played one of his best games with 17 tackles on the day and made some great plays throughout the afternoon."
Read the original game story at http://moraviansports.com/sports/fball/2016-17/releases/20161001ry32i6 with links to stats and photos of the game.
The number three highlight in the top 10 exciting games of 2016-17 will be released on Monday, July 17.