BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team scored a season-high 35 points in the first 36 minutes of action to earn a 35-18 Centennial Conference victory over Dickinson College Saturday afternoon on Senior Day at Rocco Calvo Field.
"This was great for the seniors, and we talked about it on Friday that the next time that they come to Rocco Calvo Field, that they are probably going to have to buy a ticket," commented Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "This was a great win for the senior class, and I know it meant a lot to them. We talked to the underclassmen that this is going to be you one day. They did a good job of controlling things today and what a way for the seniors to go out in their last home game."
The Hounds' offense rolled up a season-high 502 yards on just 65 plays with freshman quarterback Doug Erney completing 13-of-19 passes for 290 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, and Erney also had 40 yards on seven rushing attempts. Sophomore wide receiver Alex Pierce caught a career-high seven passes for 130 yards including a 65-yard touchdown pass while senior tight end Aaron Brown had three receptions for 39 yards and punted three times for 100 yards. Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros had a pair of catches for 46 yards and a touchdown while punting once for 30 yards, and senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson had one catch for a 75-yard touchdown as he moved into tenth in school history with 1,456 receiving yards on 118 receptions, which is seventh all-time. The score was also the tenth receiving touchdown in Hudson's career, and Hudson would block a pair of extra-points on special teams Saturday.
Junior running back Eli Redmond had his second 100-yard game of the season and fifth of his career with 111 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries while junior running back Frank Dangello had 43 yards on 13 attempts and freshman running back Stephen Leyden added 19 yards on his first four carries of the season. Senior quarterback Kordell Theadford saw action for the second straight week with one carries for a yard during the fourth quarter.
"I want to give credit to the coaching staff for game planning this week because I think they did a really good job of putting the offense in position to make plays," stated Pukszyn. "In turn, the players really executed the game plan today and you saw that we were able to take advantage of some things. We were able to put drives together today and convert on third downs. We also minimized the mistakes on defense so we could get the ball back to the offense."
Moravian's defense limited the Red Devils to 304 yards of offense including just 99 yards on the ground while intercepting a pair of passes. Junior linebacker Steve Ewald had a game-high 13 tackles to go with a first quarter interception he returned 20 yards and a total of two passes defended. Sophomore linebacker Joseph Milano had seven stops before leaving the game late in the first half with an injury. Junior defensive back Nick Zambelli contributed six tackles while freshman defensive lineman Shane Mastro also had six stops including a sack.
Junior defensive back Jacob Kober had five tackles and a blocked extra-point as the Greyhounds blocked all three of the Red Devils' PAT attempts during the game. Freshman linebacker Brady Hornbaker added five tackles with two for loss while senior defensive linemen Connor Rooney and Fouad Haddad, senior linebacker Will Russell, junior defensive lineman Vincent Pianoforte, junior linebacker Tanner Stokes and freshman defensive back Justin McRae all had four tackles with Haddad adding a tackle for loss and Russell breaking up a pass. Sophomore defensive back Tim Valentine had one tackle and an interception he returned for a touchdown.
"I always tell the defensive guys that they're not trying to throw the ball to us so when we can get our hands on the ball, we better take advantage of it and we were able to do that twice today including one for a score," noted Pukszyn. "Paying attention to detail and making sure you are in a position to be successful pay off in the end. Today it was an overall effort and we also got a lot of hits on the quarterback and that certainly helped the secondary out."
The Red Devils opened the game with the ball but punted after three plays. On Moravian's second play, Erney completed a pass to Brown but was stripped of the ball as Dickinson took over near midfield.
The Greyhounds needed just three plays to get the ball back as Ewald stepped in front of a pass and returned the interception to the Dickinson 47-yard line. Erney connected on a first down pass of 23 yards to Pierce, and two plays later Redmond bounced a run to the far sideline and raced 21-yards for the touchdown. Junior Jon Miller connected on the extra-point to give Moravian a 7-0 lead with 9:24 left in the first quarter.
Dickinson answered with an eight-play, 54-yard drive to get into the end zone with 5:30 to play in the opening quarter. Hudson came off the left side of the line and got a hand on the extra-point attempt to send it wide and keep the Greyhounds ahead 7-6.
The Hounds' next drive saw Erney toss a 14-yard completion to Brown for a first down at midfield, and the duo connected on another 13-yard pass to move the ball to the Dickinson 33-yard line. Three plays later, Erney found Petros streaking down the seam and connected on a 27-yard touchdown pass. Miller's PAT extended the Blue and Grey's lead to 14-6 with 1:06 left in the first quarter.
Moravian's defense forced a punt early in the second quarter but the Greyhounds would be right back on the field after Petros was stripped of the ball after a 19-yard completion. The defense answered with a three-and-out as the offense came back on at its own 14-yard line.
Redmond ran for 13 yards and a first down on the opening play, and with the Hounds facing a third-and-two, Erney found Pierce behind the Dickinson defense for a 65-yard catch and run as Pierce scored for the second time in his career. Miller split the uprights for a 21-6 lead with 9:47 before the intermission.
The teams traded punts with the Greyhounds taking over at their own 41-yard line with 1:04 left in the first half. Erney moved Moravian to the red zone with a 14-yard pass to Pierce and a 15-yard run. However, facing a third-and-10, Erney threw for the end zone but was intercepted with four seconds left in the half.
The Hounds started with the ball in the second half and needed just 12 seconds to extend the lead. Erney threw a crossing route to Hudson, who raced 75 yards to the end zone. Miller once again connected on the PAT for a 28-6 advantage.
Each team punted on its next possession with Brown pinning the Red Devils inside the five-yard line. After a penalty that moved the ball back to the two-yard line, Valentine intercepted a pass and ran it in for the Greyhounds' first pick-six of the season. Miller's final PAT of the afternoon made the Moravian' lead 35-6 with 9:34 left in the third quarter.
After forcing a punt, the Greyhounds took over for a 15-play, 74-yard drive that ended early in the fourth quarter on downs at the Dickinson 25-yard line. The teams traded punts again before the Red Devils found the end zone on a seven-yard run with 6:26 remaining. Hudson came off of the left end again to block the extra-point and set the score at 35-12.
Moravian's offense was unable to move the ball and punted. Dickinson moved the ball down the field again and added a four-yard touchdown run with 1:45 remaining. This time on the PAT, it was Kober, who was lined up just inside of Hudson, that broke through the line and got a hand on the extra-point attempt to send it wide right and set the final score at 35-18.
The Greyhounds are scheduled to close out their 2017 season on Saturday, November 11 in a Centennial Conference game at rival Muhlenberg College with kickoff slated for 1:05 p.m. at Frank Marino Field at Scotty Wood Stadium with TV-2 Sports broadcasting the game live.