HUNTINGDON, Pa. --- Junior kicker Jon Miller drilled a career-long 34-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to give the Moravian College football team a 20-17 victory over host Juniata College in Centennial Conference action Saturday afternoon.
"Today was a hard-fought game between two teams that have a history of close games," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn, who was his 25th game as Moravian's head coach, referring to the five overtime games played by the schools since 1996. "I was very proud of how hard we played all game. Special Teams were big today and each special team unit played a big role. Jon Miller was outstanding. Juniata came close to blocking a point after attempt but he didn't flinch when we needed him at the end of the game today. This was a Team Win and I couldn't be more proud of this team."
Miller booted a pair of field goals and two extra-points in the win including one field goal in the final 12 seconds of each half as the Greyhounds earned their first win of the season.
Moravian's offense picked up 417 yards on 64 plays as freshman quarterback Doug Erney completed 18-of-32 passes for 257 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Erney also had 72 yards rushing on 11 attempts. Junior running back Eli Redmond added 59 yards on 14 carries while junior running back Frank Dangello ran for 22 yards on five attempts.
Sophomore wide receiver Alex Pierce caught a team-high five passes for 74 yards including a 41-yard completion to help set up the Greyhounds' second touchdown. Freshman wideout Ricky Tate added four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown while senior tight end Aaron Brown had three receptions for 66 yards and a score. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson added three catches for 16 yards, one kickoff return for seven yards and a rushing attempt for six yards while freshman wide receiver Nick Petros caught two passes for 32 yards, ran once of a yard and punted six times for an average of 34.5 yards including a career-long of 60 yards.
Sophomore defensive back Tim Valentine led the Moravian defense with 11 tackles while senior defensive lineman Vinny Caporrino added nine tackles with two and a half tackles for loss and a sack. Junior linebacker Steve Ewald had eight tackles with a half a tackle for loss while freshman linebacker Tanner Barr added seven stops with a half a tackle for loss. Senior defensive back Justice Anderson made six stops and returned a pair of kickoffs for 22 yards while freshman defensive back Jalen Richardson added five tackles.
Freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk had a pair of interceptions, both in the first half, and he added a total of three passes defended and three tackles. Senior linebacker Owen Perih also had three tackles with two for loss while freshman defensive lineman Shane Mastro and senior defensive lineman Fouad Haddad both had three stops.
The Hounds' defense forced a fourth down stop on the Eagles' first drive. Moravian needed eight plays to cover the 70 yards to the end zone with Erney finding Brown with a 19-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-12 play. Miller made the extra-point to give the Blue and Grey a 7-0 lead with 7:19 to play in the first quarter.
Juniata would return the ensuing kickoff 77 yards, and finish off a short drive with a touchdown run to tie the score at 7-7 with 4:29 to go in the opening quarter. After Moravian punted, Buskirk intercepted a pass to end the next drive by the Eagles.
Late in the second quarter, Buskirk intercepted another pass and returned it 36 yards to set the Moravian offense up at the Juniata 43-yard line. The Hounds would drive to the one-yard line before bringing Miller on for an 18-yard field goal that gave the Greyhounds a 10-7 lead with just 12 seconds left in the first half.
Junior defensive back Nick Zambelli would end the half with an interception as he picked off a Hail Mary attempt in the end zone.
The Eagles forced Moravian to punt on the opening possession of the second half, and Juniata would drive down and kick a field goal to knot the score at 10-10 with 6:18 left in the third quarter. The Eagles found the end zone on their next possession to take the lead for the first time at 17-10 with 11:33 remaining in the contest.
The Greyhounds took over on their own 21-yard line with just over six minutes to play. Erney found Tate with a 20-yard pass and then Pierce with a 41-yard reception to close in on the red zone. Erney finished off the drive with an 18-yard scoring strike to Tate, his first collegiate touchdown reception, and Miller drilled the PAT to tie the contest at 17-17 with 4:04 left in regulation.
Juniata drove inside the Moravian 30-yard line but a tackle on fourth down by Valentine to give the Greyhounds possession on their own 27-yard line with 59 seconds to play.
Erney ran 23 yards on the first play of the drive to move the ball to midfield, and he added two more rushes for first downs as the Hounds moved the ball to the Juniata 17-yard line. After a timeout by Moravian to set up the field goal, the Eagles would try to ice Miller with another timeout before the snap. However, Miller, who lined up on the left hash mark for the kick, split the uprights for his career best and the winning points.
The Greyhounds are scheduled to return to action on Saturday, October 28 when the squad hosts Franklin & Marshall College in a Centennial Conference game beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Rocco Calvo Field.