BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team hosts Susquehanna University in a Centennial Conference game with kickoff slated for 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 7 at Rocco Calvo Field in Bethlehem. The Greyhounds and the entire Centennial Conference will have a bye next week before the final four games of the regular season.
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 117-123-1 record
Susquehanna coach Tom Perkovich (Canisius '03) is in his third season at Susquehanna with a 14-11 record.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be the 45th in the series with Moravian holding a 22-21-1 advantage after Susquehanna's 35-34 final minute victory in Bethlehem last fall. The Greyhounds posted a 21-14 win in Selinsgrove in 2015 while the River HawKs earned a 24-21 victory in Bethlehem in 2014, Susquehanna's fourth straight win on the series. The Greyhounds last victory before 2015 was a 12-6 triumph in the 2010 season opener at Rocco Calvo Field in Susquehanna's first game as a Centennial Conference associate member.
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 Susquehanna, which became part of the conference as an associate member as well in 2010, was selected fourth with one first place vote.
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 72-of-127 passes for 789 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Erney also has 284 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 60 attempts while being sacked 14 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 23 attempts for 86 yards while freshman Tavion George has 60 yards on 10 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 18 receptions for 278 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 16 catches for 133 yards while junior running back Eli Redmond has 12 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown this season. Sophomore Alex Pierce has eight receptions for 94 yards while freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has caught six passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Senior tight end Aaron Brown has caught four aerials for 54 yards and a score while senior wide receiver Kyle Ferryman has two receptions for nine yards. Senior fullback Jorden Stout has caught two passes for 14 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 31 tackles including three and a half tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery while junior Vincent Pianoforte has made 14 tackles with three and a half for loss this season. Senior Fouad Haddad has contributed 12 tackles including a half a tackle for loss while freshman Shane Mastro has contributed 12 stops with two tackles for loss and a pass break-up. Senior Connor Rooney has added 11 tackles, one and a half tackles for loss and a pass break-up while senior Vinny Caporrino has made 10 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. Senior Jorden Stout contributed two tackles before switching to the offensive side of the ball.
THE LINEBACKER CORPS: Junior Steve Ewald leads the linebackers and the entire Moravian defense with 42 tackles to go along with four and a half tackles for loss. Junior Dallas Owen has contributed 39 stops with three and a half tackles behind the line of scrimmage while sophomore Joseph Milano returned after missing the season opener and has 24 tackles with a half a tackle for loss. Freshman Brady Hornbaker has made 16 stops with one tackle for loss in his first collegiate season while freshman Tanner Barr has added 11 tackles in his debut season. Senior Owen Perih has 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 with 39 tackles to go along with a tackle for loss and two pass break-ups. Junior safety Nick Zambelli has contributed 36 stops, an interception, four passes defended, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries while sophomore cornerback Tim Valentine has 30 tackles and a pair of pass breaks up after being a linebacker last season. Senior cornerback/wide receiver Justice Anderson has 23 tackles and two 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 eight tackles. Sophomore safety Andrew Nieves has six stops including one and a half for loss while senior safety Tanner Mish has made two tackles with a half a tackle for loss. 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 8-for-8 on extra-points and 1-for-2 on field goal attempts with a long of 22 yards, and he has kicked off 17 times for an average of 53.1 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 19 times for an average of 33.4 yards with a long of 55 yards, seven fair caught and four inside the 20-yard line, 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 14 kickoffs for 304 yards while senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson has six kickoff returns for 99 yards. Junior linebacker Dallas Owen has two returns for 25 yards while freshman wide receiver Nick Petros has added two kickoff returns for 37 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 two 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 104, and he is already tied for 14th in receiving yards at 1,300 and needs 143 yards to crack the top 10 all-time. Hudson is fifth in career kickoff returns with 42, and he is ninth with 667 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 314.4 yards per game, and the squad is sixth in rushing offense with an average of 156.6 yards per contest and tenth in passing offense at 157.8 yards per outing. The Hounds are ninth in the conference in scoring offense at 15.8 points per game, and Moravian is eighth in points allowed at 33.0. Moravian's defense ranks ninth in the Centennial Conference at 453.6 yards allowed per game, and the squad is ninth in rushing defense at 191.4 yards per contest and ninth in passing defense at 262.2 yards allowed. The Greyhounds are tied for seventh in turnover margin at -0.40 per game with nine turnovers committed and seven turnovers gained through five games. Freshman quarterback Doug Erney is 12th in the conference in rushing yards at 56.8 per game, and he is eighth in passing yards per contest at 157.8, eighth in total offense at 224.6 yards per game and eighth in pass efficiency with a 119.7 rating. Junior running back Eli Redmond is ninth in rushing yardage at 61.0 yards per contest while freshman wide receiver Ricky Tate is tied for 12th in receptions per game at 4.00 and senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson is 11th in receiving yards at 55.6 per contest. Senior defensive back/wide receiver Justice Anderson is seventh in the conference with an average of 21.7 yards per kickoff return while freshman wide receiver/punter Nick Petros is fifth in the conference in punting at 33.4 yards per punt. Junior kicker Jon Miller is tied for first in PAT percentage at 1.000 (8-for-8) and ninth in kick scoring at 2.2 points per game while freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk is second the conference in tackles per game at 9.8. Junior linebacker Steve Ewald is tied for seventh in tackles with 8.4 per contest while junior linebacker Dallas Owen is 14th at 7.8 tackles per outing. Junior defensive back Nick Zambelli is 17th in the Centennial Conference at 7.2 tackles per game while junior defensive lineman Nick Tone is tied for 24th in tackles at 6.2 per game. Sophomores linebacker Joseph Milano and defensive back Tim Valentine are tied for 26th in the conference at 6.0 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 SUSQUEHANNA UNIVERSITY: The River Hawks enter the game at 3-2 overall and 2-2 in Centennial Conference action after a 38-7 win over Dickinson College last Saturday. Senior quarterback Nick Crusco leads the Susquehanna offense on the field having completed 104-of-166 passes for 1,144 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. His top targets have been senior wide receiver Tommy Bluj, who has 25 receptions for 278 yards, sophomore wide receiver Mikah Christian, who has 21 catches for 257 yards and two touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Diamente Holloway, who has 19 receptions for 252 yards and four scores. Sophomore tight end Anthony McCoy has added 11 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown while senior running back Cameron Ott has 10 receptions for 58 yards. Ott also leads the River Hawks rushing attack with 306 yards and a touchdown on 51 carries while Crusco has team-highs of 73 attempts and five touchdowns to go with 152 yards. Junior running back Luke Robertson has contributed 131 yards and a score on 28 rushing attempts. Freshman wide receiver Terrell Brown has returned ten kickoffs for 187 yards and five punts for 93 yards and a touchdown while Bluj has five kickoff returns for 91 yards. Freshman Connor Lustenberger is 2-for-3 on field goals with a long of 31 yards, and he has connected on 13-of-15 extra point attempts. The River Hawks have used four punters this season with the quartet averaging 32.6 yards, six inside the 20-yard line and five fair caught. Sophomore linebacker Cole Dixon and junior linebacker Connor Thompson both have 41 tackles to lead the Susquehanna defense with Dixon adding four and a half tackles for loss, two sacks and a pair of pass break-ups while Thompson has six tackles for loss, two and a half sacks, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, one interception and two passes defended. Senior defensive back Ryan Ganard has contributed 25 tackles with two interceptions and four passes defended while sophomore linebacker David Simpson has made 24 tackles to go along with three tackles for loss, three sacks, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Sophomore linebacker Craig Roumes has added 21 tackles with two tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble for the River Hawks.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In Bethlehem last fall, quarterback Mike Hayes threw for a career-high 384 yards with a pair of 60-plus yard touchdowns but the Greyhounds gave up a last-minute touchdown and two-point conversion and fell to visiting Susquehanna University, 35-34, in Centennial Conference action in Moravian's annual Homecoming game at Rocco Calvo Field. The Hounds had their seven-game home winning streak snapped and the one-point loss is the first for the Blue and Grey since a 24-23 defeat to Dickinson College on September 29, 2007. Hayes completed 28-of-37 passes for 384 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Hayes increased his school record total for completions to 489. Hayes completed his 28 passes to five different receivers with wide receiver Aaron Hudson catching a career-high 10 passes for 137 yards including a 62-yard touchdown for a career-high in yardage. Wide receiver Justice Anderson added nine receptions for a career-best 172 yards with a 69-yard touchdown catch. Anderson is the first Greyhound receiver to surpass 150 yards in a game since Shawn Sylvainus had 165 yards at Juniata College on October 23, 2010. Wide receiver Liam Nolan caught four passes for 31 yards to raise career totals to 99 receptions for 1,279 yards. Running back Chris Negron added three receptions for 19 yards while wide receiver Kyle Ferryman had a pair of catches for 25 yards. Negron picked up his fifth 100-yard game of the season and the 19th of his career with 107 yards on 29 carries to go along with three touchdowns. Negron, the school record holder in rushing and scoring, became the first Greyhound to reach 4,000 rushing yards in his career with 4,004 yards on 779 attempts. Running back Roberto Diez added 11 yards on three carries. Linebacker Edward Delia led the Moravian defense with 16 tackles including one for loss. Defensive back Noah Miller and defensive Nick Zambelli each had nine tackles with Miller making a tackle for loss. The Greyhounds received the opening kickoff and put together a 10-play, 76-yard drive with Negron scoring for the first time in three games with a six-yard run. Kicker Kenny Kane made the extra-point to give the Blue and Grey a 7-0 lead with 11:28 left in the first quarter. The Moravian defensive forced the River Hawks to punt after three plays. The Greyhounds moved back down into the red zone and would extend the lead when Negron ran in from five yards to cap the 10-play, 68-yard drive. Kane's PAT pushed the lead to 14-0 with 7:17 left in the opening quarter. The squads traded punts before Susquehanna began to drive at the end of the first quarter and early in the second. The River Hawks would get on the scoreboard with a touchdown at the 12:14 mark to cut Moravian's lead to 14-7. The Greyhounds responded with an 11-play, 78-yard drive as Negron scored his third touchdown of the game on a nine-yard scamper. Negron reached the end zone for the third time in a game for the third time in his career with a pair of three touchdown games and a six-score contest. Kane's extra-point attempt was blocked to keep the Moravian lead at 20-7 with 6:25 before the intermission. The teams traded punts again after the score before Susquehanna started to drive again. Moravian defensive lineman John Snyder would end the possession when he intercepted the ball after defensive lineman Josh Williams knocked the pass in the air. Hayes needed just one play to extend the lead as he hit Hudson in stride on a 62-yard catch and run for one more touchdown before halftime. Kane's PAT made it 27-7 with 52 seconds before the teams headed to the locker room. Susquehanna took the second half kickoff down the field for a score, and Snyder looked to have blocked the extra-point but the Greyhounds had too many players on the field. The River Hawks would make the second PAT to cut Moravian's lead to 27-14. The Hounds drove down to just outside of the red zone on their first possession of the second half before turning the ball over on downs when Negron was knocked out of bounds on a short reception. The River Hawks used the defensive stop to gain momentum and move down to score again to cut the Greyhounds advantage to 27-21 with 2:57 to play in the third quarter. Moravian drove down just outside the red zone again but Hayes through an incompletion on fourth down to turn the ball back over to Susquehanna early in the fourth quarter. The Greyhounds' defense would force a punt after three plays. The Hounds took over on its own 26-yard line, and on the third play of the drive, Hayes hit Anderson with a slant pass that he caught about 15-yards down field and out-raced the River Hawks defense the final 54 yards to the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown. Kane made the extra-point to extend the Moravian lead to 34-21 with 11:40 remaining. The River Hawks answered right back with a touchdown just over two minutes later. Snyder did block that PAT kick to keep Moravian ahead by seven, 34-27, with 9:16 remaining. The Greyhounds picked up one first down but would end up punting on the next drive. Susquehanna drove down into the red zone, and the Greyhounds had looked to end the threat on an interception by linebacker Owen Perih inside the five-yard line. However, the Greyhounds were called for defensive holding on the play to negate the interception. Two plays later, the River Hawks found the end zone and converted the two-point conversion to move ahead 35-34 with just 49 seconds left in the game. Hayes would get a first down for the Greyhounds but was intercepted throwing deep for Ferryman to end Moravian's final possession of the game.