BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team plays its first Centennial Conference road game of the season, traveling to No. 14 Johns Hopkins University on Saturday, September 16. Kickoff is slated for 12:00 p.m. at Homewood Field in Baltimore, Maryland.
THE COACHES: Jeff Pukszyn (Moravian '97) is in his seventh 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 238 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 117-120-1 record.
Johns Hopkins coach Jim Margraff (Johns Hopkins '82) has a record of 202-85-3 (.702) in his 28th year at the school. Coach Margraff was the Blue Jays' starting quarterback in the school's first three wins against Moravian.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 19th in the series with the Blue Jays holding an 11-7. Johns Hopkins has won the last eight games in the series including a 29-21 victory in Baltimore last season and a 45-23 win in Bethlehem in 2016. The Greyhounds last win in the series was a 33-10 victory in Bethlehem in 2008, and Moravian captured the 2007 game, 44-41 in Baltimore, the first time in Moravian history that both teams had scored over 40 points in a game.
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 fifth in the Centennial Conference preseason coaches and sports information directors poll. Johns Hopkins was picked first in the poll with 18 first place votes.
BALANCED & EXPERIENCED 'HOUNDS: Of the 78 players on the Moravian roster, 31 are freshmen, 18 are sophomores and 13 are juniors. There are 16 seniors on this season's squad, and the Greyhounds return 47 letterwinners and 14 starters.
THE QUARTERBACKS: Freshman Doug Erney earned the starting role after a lengthy quarterback battle during the preseason. He has completed 26-of-48 passes for 326 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Erney also has 186 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 27 attempts while being sacked eight times. Senior Kordell Theadford is the backup this season. Last fall, Theadford completed 23-of-48 passes for 296 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and he added 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 34 carries on the ground.
THE BACKFIELD: Junior Eli Redmond leads the squad with 29 carries for 65 yards, and he has 1,221 career yards and nine touchdowns on just 228 carries. Freshman Tavion George and junior tailback Frank Dangello both have added three carries this year for 16 yards while freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has one carry for 18 yards and senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has two attempts for one yard. Senior fullback Jorden Stout, who has switched from defensive line to the backfield, has three carries for nine yards. Also expected to see action in the backfield this year are sophomore fullback Sal Pagano and senior fullback Stanton Santos.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS: The Greyhounds have had nine different players catch a pass with the group led by junior running back Eli Redmond, who has 10 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown this season. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has added six receptions for 97 yards while freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has caught two passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has also caught two aerials for 40 yards while sophomore Alex Pierce has two receptions for 27 yards. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Justice Anderson has one catch for 10 yards while seeing action on both sides of the field while senior wide receiver Kyle Ferryman has one reception for eight yards. Freshman Ricky Tate has one catch for seven yards while junior running back Frank Dangello has one reception.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Moravian has three returners on the offensive line with senior left guard Mark Dignazio and sophomores right tackle Jason Barish and center Brett Poling back on the line. Sophomore left tackle Zach Cregar made his first career start at King's College while freshman PJ Weierbach earned the starting spot at right guard to give the Greyhounds' front five an average size of 6-1, 263. Sophomore Matt Shields came in during the first half of the King's College game at left guard when Dignazio was injured, and Shields also started against McDaniel College.
DEFENSIVE FRONT: Junior Nick Tone leads the defensive line with 17 tackles including one tackle for loss and one sack. Senior Fouad Haddad has contributed with nine tackles including a half a tackle for loss while sophomore Christian Coia has four tackles with two for loss. Junior Vincent Pianoforte has made three tackles with one for loss this season while senior Connor Rooney has added three tackles a pass break-up. Senior Jorden Stout contributed two tackles before switching to the offensive side of the ball while senior Vinny Caporrino has made two tackles with a stop for loss and a pass break-up.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Junior Steve Ewald leads the linebackers with 19 tackles including one tackle for loss while junior Dallas Owen has contributed 17 tackles with a half a tackle for loss. Sophomore Joseph Milano returned after missing the season opener and has eight tackles. Freshmen Tanner Barr and Brady Hornbaker each have made seven stops in their first collegiate season.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Freshman safety Jackson Buskirk leads the defensive backs and the entire Moravian defense with 23 tackles to go along with two pass break-ups. Junior defensive back Nick Zambelli has contributed 10 stops while senior cornerback/wide receiver Justice Anderson has eight tackles and a pass break-up in his first year on defense after three seasons as a wide receiver. Junior Jacob Kober has made eight stops this fall while sophomore cornerback Tim Valentine has eight tackles and a pass break up after being a linebacker last season. Freshman cornerback Jalen Richardson has contributed four tackles while freshman cornerback Justin McRae has one tackle and a pass break-up this season.
KICKING GAME: Juniors Jon Miller and Kenny Kane are handling the place kicking duties for the Greyhounds this season. Miller is 3-for-3 on extra-points but was just wide left on a field goal attempts, and he has kicked off nine times for an average of 50.3 yards with one touchback. Kane is 2-for-2 on field goal attempts with a long of 23 yards, and he has had his only extra point attempt blocked in 2017. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has punted six times for an average of 35.3 yards with a long of 53 yards, one fair caught and one inside the 20-yard line, and he also has a fake punt that he ran 18 yards for a first down. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has punted three times for 15.7 yards with one inside the 20-yard line.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson has returned seven kickoffs for 186 yards while junior linebacker Dallas Owen has two returns for 25 yards. Junior running back Eli Redmond returned on kickoff for 20 yards while junior linebacker Steve Ewald has one return for 15 yards and senior defensive lineman Jorden Stout has one return for 13 yards. Freshman tight end Austin Heisler has made two tackles on special teams while sophomore full back Sal Pagano, senior fullback Stanton Santos and freshman wide receiver Ricky Tate all have one tackle on special teams this fall.
MILESTONE WATCH: The Greyhounds have five players closing in on milestones in their careers. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson needs eight receptions to become the tenth player in school history with 100 career receptions, and he is already 17th in receiving yards at 1,119 and needs 324yards to crack the top 10 all-time. Hudson is also tied for sixth in career kickoff returns with 36, and he needs 45 yards added to his 568 kickoff return yards to reach the top ten. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Justice Anderson has 909 receiving yards on 68 receptions and needs 91 yards to become the 20th player in school history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards. Junior running back Eli Redmond sits in 19th place in school history with 1,221 rushing yards, and he needs 883 yards to reach the top 10. Redmond is also tied for sixth all-time with 36 kickoff returns and seventh with 852 kickoff return yards. Senior tight end/punter Aaron Brown needs 1,456 yards to reach the top ten in career punting yardage. Junior kicker Kenny Kane is tied for ninth in school history with nine career field goals, and he needs four extra-points and one total point to reach the top ten in those categories.
THE CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE STATISTICAL RANKINGS: The Greyhounds are ninth in the Centennial Conference in total offense at 318.0 yards per game, and the squad is seventh in rushing offense with an average of 155.0 yards per contest and tied for ninth in passing offense at 163.0 yards per outing. The Hounds are tied for eighth in the conference in scoring offense at 20.5 points per game, and Moravian is eighth in points allowed at 32.5. Moravian's defense ranks ninth in the Centennial Conference at 468.0 yards allowed per game, and the squad is sixth in rushing defense at 169.0 yards per contest and ninth in passing defense at 299.0 yards allowed. The Greyhounds are tied for fifth in turnover margin at -0.50 per game with one turnover committed and no turnovers gained through two games. Freshman quarterback Doug Erney is seventh in the conference in rushing yards at 93.0 per game, and he is eighth in passing yards per contest at 163.0, fifth in total offense at 256.0 yards per game, tied for fourth in scoring and tied for third in touchdown scoring at 9.0 points per game and eighth in pass efficiency with a 120.8 rating. Junior running back Eli Redmond is tied for eighth in receptions per outing at 5.0. Senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson is second in the conference with an average of 26.6 yards per kickoff return while freshman wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is third in the conference in punting at 35.3 yards per punt. Junior kicker Jon Miller is tied for first in PAT percentage at 1.000 (3-for-3). Freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk is fifth in the conference in tackles per game at 11.5 and tied for fifth in passes defended at 1.0 per contest, and he is sixth in punt returns with an average of 6.5. Junior linebacker Steve Ewald is sixth at 9.5 tackles per contest while junior linebacker Dallas Owen and junior defensive lineman Nick Tone are tied for eighth in tackles at 8.5 per game. Junior defensive back Nick Zambelli is tied for 43rd at 5.0 tackles per outing.
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 JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: The Blue Jays enter Saturday's game at 2-0 overall and 1-0 in Centennial Conference action after a 38-34 last minute win over Susquehanna University last Saturday. Sophomore quarterback David Tammaro has completed 76 of 110 passes for 725 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions, and he leads the Blue Jays with 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. Senior wide receiver Brett Caggiano has caught 19 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown while junior wide receiver Luke McFadden has 16 receptions for 236 yards and three touchdowns and senior running back Ryan Cary has 14 catches for 74 yards. Cary has also added 80 yards on 29 rushing attempts. Freshman wide receiver Ryan Hubley and senior wide receiver David Brookhart both have ten receptions. Hubley has also returned five kickoffs for 108 yards while sophomore running back Hogan Irwin has four kickoff returns for 89 yards. Senior kicker Jamie Sullivan is 7-for-7 on extra-points and 5-for-6 on field goal attempts with a long of 44 yards, and Sullivan is averaging 58.2 yards on 13 kickoffs with a pair of touchbacks. Junior defensive back Addison Quinones leads the Johns Hopkins defense with 24 tackles including one and a half tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while junior linebacker Robby Johnson has 17 stops with a half a tackle for loss. Senior defensive lineman Keonte Henson has made 14 tackles with three stops for loss and two sacks while sophomore linebacker James Closser has 13 tackles and a pass break-up. Junior defensive back Ian Lodge and freshman defensive back Macauley Kilbane each have one interception this season.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Baltimore last fall, Moravian entered the fourth quarter trailing No. 11 Johns Hopkins University, 29-6, but the Greyhounds would score 15 points in the final 15 minutes and have another drive stopped in the red zone by a turnover as the Blue Jays handed the Hounds a 29-21 Centennial Conference. Moravian out-gained Johns Hopkins 432-428 in the game including 167 yards on the ground to just 97 for the Blue Jays but it was turnovers that made the different with the Hounds turning the ball over four times to three turnovers for JHU Quarterback Mike Hayes completed 26-of-55 passes, both career highs and a school record for attempts, for 265 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions. Wide receiver Justice Anderson, wide receiver Aaron Hudson and wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio each caught five passes with Anderson picking up 77 yards, Hudson gaining 54 yards and Snyder-Scipio picking up 51 yards with a touchdown. Tight end Aaron Brown, wide receiver Liam Nolan and running back Chris Negron each caught three passes for the Greyhounds. Negron led the rushing attack with 119 yards on 21 carries, his third straight 100-yard game this season and the 17th of his career, and he scored one touchdown to raise his school record career totals to 35 rushing touchdowns, 39 overall touchdowns and 234 points. Negron broke Chris Jacoubs' career all-purpose yardage mark with 4,363 yards rushing, receiving and returns during his career. Running back Roberto Diez added 40 yards on nine carries for the Greyhounds. The Greyhounds turned the ball over on their first two possessions as Hayes was intercepted on both drives but the Moravian defense would have its own interception on the Blue Jays' first possession as defensive back Noah Miller made his second interception of the season. After the second miscue by the Hounds' offense, the defense would stand up inside the five-yard line and keep the Blue Jays to a field goal with 7:53 left in the first half. The teams would trade punts before the Moravian offense took over at its own 36-yard line. Hayes would lead the Blue and Grey on a nine-play, 64-yard drive that gave the Greyhounds a lead. Hayes finished the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Snyder-Scipio on a leaping catch in the front right corner of the end zone. Kicker Kenny Kane missed the extra-point as the Greyhounds lead 6-3 with 1:45 left in the first quarter Johns Hopkins' next drive ended with a defensive stop by the Greyhounds on fourth down but Hayes would be intercepted again three plays into the Moravian possession. The Blue Jays would move 51 yards on 13 plays to take a 10-6 lead with 8:21 left in the first half Moravian would punt again and the Hounds defense held to force the Blue Jays to kick a field goal with 3:25 before the intermission to extend the lead 13-6. The teams would head to the locker room with the score the same Johns Hopkins opened the second half with a touchdown drive but Moravian defensive lineman John Snyder blocked the extra point to keep the JHU lead at 19-6 with 11:30 left in the third quarter. Snyder finished the game with five tackles and a pass breakup. On the second play of Moravian's first drive in the second half, Negron burst through the left side of the line and picked up 37 yards break the all-purpose yardage record. However, the possession would end on downs. Johns Hopkins added to its lead with a 50-yard field goal to push the advantage to 22-6 over the Greyhounds with 8:09 to play in the third quarter. Moravian moved down into the red zone on the ensuing drive but Hayes' pass on fourth down pass attempt sailed high as he was under pressure, turning the ball back over to the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays hit a 49-yard touchdown pass with just 35 seconds left in the third quarter to extend their lead to 29-6. The Greyhounds answered with an 18-play, 76-yard drive that Hayes capped off with a 7-yard run on a fourth down play as he made it inside the right front pylon. Kane's extra-point cut the Hounds' deficit to 29-13 with 9:56 remaining. Two plays into Johns Hopkins next possession, linebacker Edward Delia forced a fumble that defensive lineman Connor Rooney jumped on to give the Greyhounds the ball at the JHU 31-yard line. Delia led the Moravian defense with 14 tackles including one for loss to go with his forced fumble. Moravian's offense needed just five plays to get in the end zone again with Negron scoring on a three-yard run. Hayes scrambled and found Brown in the front of the end zone for the two-point conversion that cut the Blue Jays' lead to 29-21 with 9:56 still remaining in the contest. The Hounds' defense would get the ball back for the offense once again after three plays when defensive back Khalil Raymond made his first career interception to give Moravian the ball at the Hounds' own 39-yard line. However, the drive ended in a punt. Raymond had five tackles on the afternoon. The Blue Jays would punt as well. With the Greyhounds facing a fourth down at the JHU 38-yard line, Hayes was flushed out of the pocket and heaved a pass towards Anderson, who was able to get a hand on the pass but the ball bounced up and was intercepted inside the 10-yard line. The Blue Jays would run out the clock after the turnover. Linebacker Steve Ewald contributed eight tackles with three for loss while Miller, linebacker Owen Perih and linebacker Tim Valentine each made seven tackles with Miller adding two passes defended to his interception and Perih making a tackle for loss.