BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team returns to action after its bye week with a road trip to Juniata College for a Centennial Conference contest. Kickoff is slated for 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 at Goodman Field at Knox Stadium in Huntingdon.
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 241 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 117-124-1 record.
Juniata coach Tim Launtz (Juniata '80) is in his seventh year at the school with a 25-42 record.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 63rd in the series with Moravian holding a 32-28-2 lead. The Greyhounds posted a 42-30 win in Huntingdon last fall, and the Hounds earned a 42-10 victory in Bethlehem during the 2015 season and a 27-21 win in Huntingdon in 2014. The series has had a history of close games with a streak of five straight years in which the game ended in a regulation tie from 1995 until 1999. Four of those games went to overtime with three won by Moravian.
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 2016 Centennial Conference preseason coaches and sports information directors poll while Juniata was selected ninth.
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 84-of-147 passes for 979 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Erney also has 306 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 68 attempts while being sacked 15 times. Senior Kordell Theadford is the backup this season and saw action last Saturday for one series against Ursinus College. 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.
IN THE BACKFIELD: Junior Eli Redmond leads the squad with 77 carries for 305 yards and a touchdown after posting the fourth 100-yard game of his career when the Hounds hosted Ursinus College, and he has 1,461 career yards and 10 touchdowns on just 276 carries. Junior tailback Frank Dangello has added 36 attempts for 114 yards while freshman Tavion George has 88 yards on 17 carries. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has three carries for 28 yards and senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has four attempts for four yards. Senior fullback Jorden Stout, who has switched from defensive line to the backfield, has six carries for 18 yards.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS & TIGHT ENDS: The Greyhounds have had 11 different players catch a pass with the group led by senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson, who has 21 receptions for 312 yards and a touchdown after becoming the tenth player in school history to reach 100 career receptions versus Ursinus College. Freshman wide receiver Ricky Tate has 17 catches for 141 yards while junior running back Eli Redmond has 12 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown this season. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has caught 10 aerials for 191 yards and three scores after a career-best six catches for 137 yards against Susquehanna University that earned him a spot on the D3football.com Team of the Week on October 10. Sophomore Alex Pierce has nine receptions for 100 yards while freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has caught seven passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Kyle Ferryman has two receptions for nine yards. Senior fullback Jorden Stout has caught three passes for 19 yards while freshman running back Tavion George has one reception for three yards. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Justice Anderson has one catch for 10 yards while seeing action on both sides of the field, and 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 Zack 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 and Johns Hopkins University with Dignazio sidelined. Sophomore Tyler Maxsim made his first start of the season against Ursinus College after missing the first three games with an injury.
DEFENSIVE FRONT: Junior Nick Tone leads the defensive line with 33 tackles including three and a half tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery while junior Vincent Pianoforte has made 18 tackles with five for loss and a sack this season. Freshman Shane Mastro has contributed 18 stops with four tackles for loss and a pass break-up while senior Fouad Haddad has contributed 15 tackles including a half a tackle for loss. Senior Connor Rooney has added 14 tackles, one and a half tackles for loss and a pass break-up while senior Vinny Caporrino has made 12 tackles with two stops for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Sophomore Christian Coia has four tackles with two for loss, and freshman Andrew Stein also has four stops. Senior Jorden Stout contributed two tackles before switching to the offensive side of the ball.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Junior Steve Ewald leads the linebackers with 50 tackles to go along with four and a half tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Junior Dallas Owen has contributed 46 stops with three and a half tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a forced fumble while sophomore Joseph Milano returned after missing the season opener and has 24 tackles with a half a tackle for loss. Freshman Tanner Barr has added 22 tackles, a half a tackle for loss and a pass break-up in his debut season while freshman Brady Hornbaker has made 20 stops with a half a tackle for loss, two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery in his first collegiate season. Seniors Owen Perih and La-Ron Smith each have three tackles this season.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD: Freshman safety Jackson Buskirk, who missed the game at Gettysburg College due to an injury, leads the defensive backs and the entire Moravian defense with 51 tackles to go along with a tackle for loss and two pass break-ups. Junior safety Nick Zambelli has contributed 43 stops, one tackle for loss, one sack, an interception, four passes defended, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries while sophomore cornerback Tim Valentine has 31 tackles and a pair of pass breaks up after being a linebacker last season. Senior cornerback/wide receiver Justice Anderson has 25 tackles and three pass break-ups in his first year on defense after three seasons as a wide receiver while junior cornerback Jacob Kober has made 14 stops this fall. Freshman cornerback Jalen Richardson has contributed 12 tackles while sophomore safety Andrew Nieves has seven stops including one and a half for loss. Freshman cornerback Justin McRae has five tackles and a pass break-up this season while senior safety Tanner Mish has made two tackles with a half a tackle for loss.
KICKING GAME: Juniors Jon Miller and Kenny Kane are handling the place kicking duties for the Greyhounds this season. Miller is 11-for-11 on extra-points and 1-for-2 on field goal attempts with a long of 22 yards, and he has kicked off 21 times for an average of 52.4 yards with one touchback and one successful onside kick. 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 27 times for an average of 34.3 yards with a long of 55 yards, eight fair caught, five inside the 20-yard line and one blocked, and he also has a pair of fake punts that he has run for 27 yards and a pair of first downs. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has punted nine times for an average of 31.7 yards with a long of 52 yards, three inside the 20-yard line and one touchback.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson has returned 16 kickoffs for 344 yards while senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has eight kickoff returns for 132 yards. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has added three kickoff returns for 61 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. Freshman defensive back Jalen Richardson has one return for 12 yards while senior defensive lineman Jorden Stout has one return for 13 yards. Freshman tight end Austin Heisler has made seven tackles on special teams while senior fullback Stanton Santos has three tackles and has recovered a fumble on special teams this fall.
MILESTONE WATCH: The Greyhounds have five players closing in on milestones in their careers. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson is ninth in career receptions with 107, and he is 14th in receiving yards at 1,334 and needs 143 yards to crack the top 10 all-time. Hudson is fifth in career kickoff returns with 44, and he is eighth with 700 kickoff return yards. 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 13th place in school history with 1,461 rushing yards, and he needs 643 yards to reach the top 10. Redmond is also tied for seventh all-time with 36 kickoff returns and seventh with 852 kickoff return yards. Senior tight end/punter Aaron Brown needs 1,218 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 306.3 yards per game, and the squad is sixth in rushing offense with an average of 143.2 yards per contest and ninth in passing offense at 163.2 yards per outing. The Hounds are ninth in the conference in scoring offense at 16.7 points per game, and Moravian is ninth in points allowed at 32.2. Moravian's defense ranks ninth in the Centennial Conference at 448.8 yards allowed per game, and the squad is eighth in rushing defense at 177.8 yards per contest and ninth in passing defense at 271.0 yards allowed. The Greyhounds are fifth in turnover margin at 0.00 per game with nine turnovers committed and nine turnovers gained through six games. Freshman quarterback Doug Erney is 13th in the conference in rushing yards at 51.0 per game, and he is eighth in passing yards per contest at 163.2, eighth in total offense at 214.2 yards per game and six in pass efficiency with a 127.0 rating. Junior running back Eli Redmond is ninth in rushing yardage at 61.0 yards per contest while senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson is sixth in the conference with an average of 21.5 yards per kickoff return. Freshman wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is seventh in the conference in punting at 34.3 yards per punt while junior kicker Jon Miller is tied for first in PAT percentage at 1.000 (11-for-11) and eighth in kick scoring at 2.3 points per game. Freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk is second the conference in tackles per game at 10.2, and he is sixth in punt returns at 3.2 yards per return. Junior linebacker Steve Ewald is tied for eighth in tackles with 8.3 per contest while junior linebacker Dallas Owen is 12th at 7.7 tackles per outing. Junior defensive back Nick Zambelli is 16th in the Centennial Conference at 7.2 tackles per game, and he is tied for third in fumbles recovered with 0.33 per game while junior defensive lineman Nick Tone is tied for 31st in tackles at 5.5 per game. Sophomore defensive back Tim Valentine is 39th in the conference at 5.2 tackles per contest.
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 JUNIATA COLLEGE: The Eagles enter the game at 2-4 overall and 1-4 in Centennial Conference action after a 42-35 loss to Gettysburg College before the bye week. Sophomore quarterback Austin Montgomery leads the Juniata offense on the field having completed 125-of-203 passes for 1,771 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Montgomery has also run for 60 yards and four touchdowns on 63 attempts. His top targets have been sophomore wide receiver Justin Helsel, who has 29 catches for 511 yards and five touchdowns, senior wide receiver Jake Notestine, who has 22 receptions for 281 yards and two scores, junior wide receiver, who has caught 21 passes for 411 yards and three touchdowns, senior wide receiver A.J. Brocato, who has 18 receptions for 230 yards and four scores, and senior running back Matt Lehr, who has 16 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Lehr also leads the Eagles' rushing attack with 475 yards and two touchdowns on 87 carries while junior running back Calvin Bembry II has added 156 yards and one score on 28 carries. Freshman Sam Craig is 13-for-15 on extra-points while junior defensive back Joel Reighard in 9-for-9 on PAT attempts. Montgomery has kicked a pair of extra-points and has missed the Eagles' only field goal attempt this season. Freshman Brenden Gardner is averaging 37.2 yards per punt on 17 attempts with a long of 52 yards and two inside the 20-yard line while Montgomery has punted nine times for 35.7 yards with a long of 61 yards, two inside the 20-yard line and one fair caught. Helsel has returned 11 kickoffs for 285 yards while freshman Shaheed Ross also has 11 kickoff returns for 249 yards. Sophomore running back Jake Westz has added 10 kickoff returns for 183 yards while Reighard has five punt returns for 130 yards and a touchdown. Senior defensive back Mitchell Shober leads the Juniata defense with 54 tackles including two for loss, an interception and two passes defended while Reighard has 45 tackles with three for loss, one interception, seven passes defended and one blocked kick. Senior linebacker Anton Morrow has contributed 38 stops with seven and a half for loss and two fumble recoveries while senior defensive back John Maclay has made 32 tackles with one and a half for loss, three interceptions and a blocked kick. Senior defensive lineman Aldo Legge leads the Eagles with two and a half sacks among his 20 tackles.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Huntingdon last fall, quarterback Mike Hayes returned to action after missing a game with an injury to complete 34-of-51 passes for a school-record 516 yards and four touchdowns and break the Moravian College career passing mark as he led the Greyhounds to a 42-30 win at Juniata College in Centennial Conference action. Hayes, who had not played in the last five and a half quarters after suffering an injury at Franklin & Marshall College on October 22, set a school mark with his 34 completions and tied the single game record with four touchdowns. Hayes had thrown for 6,306 yards after the game, the third quarterback in school history to reach the 6,000-yard milestone, and he broke Rob Light's mark of 6,203 yards on a 65-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter. Moravian's offense tied a school record set earlier this season with 34 first downs in the contest, and Moravian had 667 yards of total offense on 90 plays, the second time this season and in school history with over 600 yards in one game. The record of 672 yards was set against McDaniel College on September 10. Wide receiver Liam Nolan caught a career-high 10 passes for 182 yards, the fourth most receiving yards in a game in school history, to go along with one touchdown, and Nolan became the ninth Greyhound to reach 1,500 career receiving yards with 1,576. Wide receiver Aaron Hudson caught seven passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns, and Hudson has three 100-yard receiving games in the last four contests. Wide receiver Kyle Ferryman grabbed four receptions for 63 yards with and his first career touchdown while wide receiver Justice Anderson caught four passes for 38 yards. Wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio added three catches to raise his school-record total to 155, and he contributed 33 yards. Running back Chris Negron led Moravian's rushing attack with 129 yards on 23 carries, his 20th career 100-yard game as Negron raised his school-record total to 4,258 yards. He also caught two passes for 19 yards against the Eagles while running back Roberto Diez had five carries for 13 yards and a touchdown to go with two catches for 17 yards. Hayes added seven rushing attempts for six yards for a school-record total of 522 yards of total offense in the game while defensive lineman Jorden Stout added two carries for three yards and a touchdown while adding four tackles with one and a half for loss and a pass break-up on defense. Tight end/punter Aaron Brown caught two passes for 43 yards, and he punted five times for an average of 36.8 yards with a long of 51 and a pair of punts downed inside the five-yard line. Linebacker Edward Delia led the Greyhounds' defense with 10 tackles, his seventh straight game in double digits, to go along with his third interception of the season. Defensive lineman John Snyder and linebacker Steve Ewald each had six tackles with Ewald adding a pass break-up, and linebacker Joseph Milano made five tackles with a pass break-up. The Greyhounds received the opening kickoff of the game and needed just nine plays to cover 79 yards to the end zone with Hayes capping the drive with a 19-yard scoring strike to Hudson. Kenny Kane made the first of six extra-points on the afternoon for a 7-0 lead just 2:35 into action. The Blue and Grey's defense forced a punt after five plays, and Moravian's offense took over at its own 20-yard line. Hayes and the Greyhounds needed seven plays to finish off the 80-yard drive with Diez scoring on a two-yard run to push the lead to 14-0 with 8:10 still to play in the first quarter. Juniata answered back with touchdown late in the first period, and after forcing the only Moravian punt of the first half, the Eagles kicked a field goal two plays into the second quarter to cut the Hounds' advantage to 14-10. Moravian responded with a nine-play, 65-yard drive with Stout scoring on a fourth-and-goal play from the one-yard line to push the lead to 21-10 before the intermission. The Eagles punted twice sandwiched around the Blue and Grey turning the ball over on downs in Juniata territory. The Hounds started their next drive at their own 19-yard line with 6:39 on the clock before halftime. With Negron running the ball and Hayes throwing first downs, Moravian would score on a 19-yard pass from Hayes to Ferryman to make the lead 28-10 with 5:19 showing on the scoreboard in the second quarter. Juniata answered with a quick touchdown to cut into the lead; however, Hayes found Hudson with a 41-yard scoring strike, and Kane's PAT sent the Greyhounds to the locker room with a 35-17 lead. The teams traded punts early in the third quarter before Juniata was next to score to cut the deficit to 35-24. After the Eagles forced Moravian to punt, Juniata looked to be driving to cut the Blue and Grey's lead even more when defensive back Khalil Raymond made his third interception of the season at the Greyhounds' 15-yard line and returned it 20 yards. Hayes needed just one play to get the Hounds on the scoreboard as he found Nolan streaking down the field with a 65-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown with 2:33 left in the third quarter. Hayes became Moravian's all-time leading passer on the play. Juniata would score three plays into the fourth quarter to cut the Greyhounds' advantage to 42-30 after the Eagles missed the two-point conversion. Moravian went on a four-minute drive that ended in a punt that was downed at the Juniata two-yard line. The Eagles were unable to move the ball but a 68-yard punt pushed the Hounds' deep in their own territory. Moravian picked up one first down before a 51-yard punt by Brown was downed at the Juniata five-yard line. Juniata was able to move the ball down the field towards the red zone before Delia stepped in front of a pass at the Moravian 15-yard line with 3:47 to play. Negron picked up a pair of first downs on the ground, and Hayes hit Snyder-Scipio for another first down as the Greyhounds ran out the clock and seal the win.