BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Freshman quarterback Doug Erney tossed a pair of touchdown passes to senior tight end Aaron Brown and ran for another score but it wasn't enough as the Greyhounds' fourth quarter rally came up short in a 28-21 loss to Susquehanna University in Centennial Conference action at Rocco Calvo Field Saturday afternoon.
"I'm extremely proud of the way this team fought today," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "Again, we had a few guys out and others stepped up and played well. We need to do a better job on third down on both sides of the ball, getting off the field on defense and extending drives on offense. We need to heal up this week and the time off will help that before we move on to the Juniata week."
Erney completed 12-of-20 passes for 190 yards with Brown pulling in a career-high six receptions for a career-best 137 yards and the two scores. Senior wide receiver Aaron Hudson added three catches for 34 yards as he moved into a tie for eighth with 107 career receptions and sole possession of 14th in career receiving yards with 1,334. Hudson also returned a pair of kickoffs for 33 yards and is fifth all-time with 44 returns for 700 yards, which ranks eighth in the Moravian record books.
Freshman running back Tavion George led the Moravian rushing attack with 28 yards on seven carries before leaving the game in the first half with an injury. Junior running back Frank Dangello also had 28 yards on 13 carries while Erney finished with 22 yards and a touchdown on eight attempts.
Freshman wide receiver Nick Petros had a busy afternoon, catching one pass for five yards, returning one kickoff for 24 yards and punting eight times for an average of 36.5 yards with a long of 52 yards. Senior defensive back Justice Anderson added two kickoff returns for 40 yards while freshman wide receiver Ricky Tate had one catch for eight yards and sophomore wide receiver Alex Pierce added one reception for six yards.
Freshman defensive back Jackson Buskirk returned after missing last week's game at Gettysburg College with an injury to lead the Moravian defense with 12 tackles, and he also had one punt return for three yards. Freshman linebacker Tanner Barr made a start due to an injury to sophomore Joseph Milano, and Barr contributed 11 tackles with a half a tackle for loss and a pass break-up that he nearly intercepted in the fourth quarter. Junior linebacker Steve Ewald made eight tackles and recovered a fumble while junior linebacker Dallas Owen had seven stops and a forced fumble.
Junior defensive back Nick Zambelli also contributed seven tackles, and he added a sack and a tackle for loss while freshman defensive lineman Shane Mastro added six stops with a pair of tackles for loss. Junior defensive lineman Vincent Pianoforte, freshman linebacker Brady Hornbaker, freshman defensive back Justin McRae and freshman defensive back Jalen Richardson all had four tackles with Pianoforte adding a sack and one and a half tackles for loss, Hornbaker breaking up two passes and Richardson making his first career interception. Senior defensive linemen Fouad Haddad and Connor Rooney both had three tackles while junior defensive lineman Nick Tone, senior defensive lineman Vinny Caporrino and Anderson each had two tackles with Anderson breaking up a pass.
Moravian had 266 yards on 49 plays while Susquehanna controlled the clock for 36:48 and picked up 425 yards on 79 plays. The River Hawks were also 8-for-15 on third down while the Hounds' offense was just 1-for-10 on third downs.
Susquehanna received the opening kickoff and was driving before Richardson ended the drive with an interception at the Moravian nine-yard line. However, the Greyhounds had to punt after three plays and a long punt return by the River Hawks set up Susquehanna for a 20-yard running back option pass from Cameron Ott to Mitch Carsley for a 7-0 lead for the River Hawks with 9:56 left in the first quarter.
Once again, the Moravian offense was unable to pick up a first down before punting. However, on the second play of the River Hawks drive, Owen stripped Ott of the ball and Ewald recovered the fumble at the Moravian 47-yard line. George had a pair of rushes for a Moravian first down before the Greyhounds faced a third-and-five. Erney tossed a short pass to Brown, who broke a tackle that would have kept him shy of the first down and raced 34 yards into the end zone. Junior Jon Miller tacked on the extra-point to knot the score at 7-7 with 5:14 to go in the first quarter.
The River Hawks took the ensuing kickoff 75 yards in 13 plays with Ott scoring on a one-yard touchdown run on the third play of the second quarter as Susquehanna took a 14-7 lead. Moravian's next two possessions would end in punts while the Greyhounds' defense came up with a pair of fourth down stops, one by Zambelli and Barr and the other from Caporrino and Owen as Moravian made the River Hawks turn the ball over on downs.
After the second defensive stop just on the Moravian side of midfield, the Hounds offense moved the ball down the field with Erney starting the drive with a 10-yard run. Erney found Brown with an 18-yard pass to move into the red zone and the duo would end the drive with a 16-yard scoring strike for Brown's third touchdown of the season and fourth of his career. Miller's PAT split the uprights and tied the contest at 14-14 with 1:23 before the intermission.
The third quarter would start with a pair of punts by the Greyhounds and one from the River Hawks before Susquehanna eventually found the end zone on a 32-yard catch and run by Diamente Holloway after a short pass by Nick Crusco as the River Hawks moved ahead 21-14 with 4:17 left in the third quarter.
Crusco and Holloway connected again on a 12-yard touchdown pass just ten seconds into the fourth quarter as Susquehanna extended its lead to 28-14.
Moravian eventually took over at its own 26-yard line with 5:21 to play. Erney found Hudson with a 19-yard pass on the first play, and Erney hooked up with Brown on a 17-yard pass to move on the other side of midfield. Erney found Brown once again, and Brown was eventually pulled down at the one-yard line after a 31-yard play. Erney finished the drive on the next play with his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. Miller would cut the deficit to 28-21 with 3:56 to play.
The Blue and Grey tried a short kickoff but the River Hawks were ready for it and would run out the clock on offense to end the afternoon.
The Greyhounds have their bye week next Saturday and are scheduled to return to action in a Centennial Conference game at Juniata College on Saturday, October 21 kicking off at 12:00 p.m. in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.