Sophomore running back Rocco Del Priore drove into the end zone on three-yard touchdown run to snap a tie and help lead the Moravian College football team to a 24-17 upset win over nationally-ranked Ursinus College in a Centennial Conference contest at Rocco Calvo Field Saturday afternoon.
Moravian improves to 5-4 overall and 5-3 in conference action as the Greyhounds won their third straight game and fourth in five contests since sophomore Matt Johnson moved from starting strong safety to starting quarterback. The Bears, who entered the game ranked 24th in the nation in the D3football.com Top 25 Poll and 21st in the America Football Coaches Association Division III Top 25, suffered their first loss of the season to fall to 7-1 overall and 6-1 in Centennial Conference action.
For the Greyhounds, it marked the second time in three seasons that a nationally-ranked, undefeated opponent came to Rocco Calvo Field and Moravian ended up victories. The Greyhounds defeated then sixth-ranked Muhlenberg College 27-24 in overtime in the final week of the 2008 regular season.
Ursinus received the opening kickoff and picked up a pair of first downs before a sack from Moravian junior linebacker Evan Bauer on Bear senior quarterback Justin Decristofaro forced a punt.
The Greyhounds began their opening possession of the game at their own 32-yard line, and sophomore running back Joe Tegan ran for 11 yards on the opening play. Facing a third-and-seven and a blitz from the Ursinus defense, Johnson hit senior wide receiver Shawn Sylvainus with a 54-yard touchdown pass and Sylvainus became just the third player in school history to go over 1,800 career receiving yards. Junior kicker Ian Heck made the extra-point to give Moravian a 7-0 lead with 7:59 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bears picked up two first downs before punting on their second possession while Moravian had one first down before a 51-yard punt from senior Eric Dziengelski.
Ursinus started its next drive at its own 33 yard line and moved into the red zone on a 43 yard completion from Decristofaro to senior wide receiver Tony Santino. Three plays later, Decristofaro found freshman wide receiver Jerry Rahill with a three-yard touchdown pass. Freshman kicker Michael Bennett tied the game at 7-7 with his extra-point at 13:08 left in the second quarter.
Moravian picked up three first downs on its next possession, but would punt again with Dziegnelski's punt being downed at the Ursinus two-yard line. The Bears were able to get a first down but had to punt after Decristofaro was sacked by Greyhound senior defensive lineman Allen Petros.
The Greyhounds started from their own 46-yard line and put together an eight-play drive to retake the lead. Johseon threw a pair of completions on the drive including a 23-yard to senior wide receiver Alex Hersch, and Johnson ran three times for 17 yards with the final four getting him into the end zone with his fifth rushing touchdown. Heck pushed the lead to 14-7 with 42 seconds left in the first half.
Ursinus, aided by an offside penalty on the Greyhounds on the ensuing kickoff, drove 35 yards in six plays to set up Bennett for a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to set the halftime score at 14-10 Moravian.
The Greyhounds started the second half with their only three-and-punt drive of the game. Ursinus took over at its own 49-yard line and needed just six plays to take its first lead off of the contest on a two-yard run from Decristofaro. Bennett's kick gave the Bears a 17-14 lead with 9:51 to play in the third quarter.
Moravian would get a first down before punting again, and the Bears went three-and-out on their possession. An Ursinus penalty on the fair catch by Hersch gave the Greyhounds the ball at the Ursinus 36-yard line. After one first down, Heck came on and made a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 17-17 with 1:25 to go in the third quarter.
The Bears would get one first down on their next drive before sophomore punter Derek Giannetti punted in the fourth play of the final quarter. Moravian started from its own 22-yard line and put together a ten-play, 78-yard drive to retake the lead. After a pair of first downs, Johnson hit Del Priore with a 30-yard catch and run to the one-yard line. Three plays and a penalty later, Del Priore scored third rushing touchdown of the year on a three-yard run. Heck's PAT gave the Greyhounds a 24-17 lead with 8:12 to play.
Ursinus picked up a first down but would be forced to punt for the sixth time in the game. After Moravian had a first down and a punt, the Bears started from their own 11-yard line. Four plays into the drive, Decristofaro was intercepted by Greyhound senior defensive back Daniel Burley at the Ursinus 41-yard line.
Moravian picked up just two yards before punting back to Ursinus with 27 seconds left in the game. With 90 yards to go and no timeouts, Decristofaro had to pass and his third pass of the drive was intercepted by Bauer at the Moravian 48-yard line with four seconds to play.
The Greyhounds had 335 yards on just 58 plays while holding the ball for nearly 32 minutes in the contest. Johnson completed 14 of 19 passes for 251 yards with a touchdown, and he ran for 39 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries while being sacked once. Tegan finished with 41 yards on 17 carries to go with two receptions for 33 yards while Del Priore had five yards and a touchdown on five carries and two catches for 27 yards. Sylvainus caught five passes for 85 yards and a touchdown and is now fourth in school history with 117 catches and third with 1,833 yards. Hersch caught three passes for 69 yards and is now just 58 yards shy of becoming the 20th 1,000-yard receiver in school history.
Ursinus gained 301 yards on 64 plays but just 27 yards on 21 rushing attempts. Decristofaro was 27-for-42 for 274 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions with Rahill catching seven passes for 55 yards and a score. Freshman wide receiver Ryan Lynady had six catches for 57 yards while junior wide receiver Storm Miller had five catches for 71 yards. Senior tight end C.J. Yespelkis grabbed five passes for 33 yards while Santino had four catches for 58 yards. Freshman running back Ryan Ellis had a team high 24 yards on ten carries.
Sophomore defensive back Travis King led the Moravian defense with nine tackles and a pass break-up, and he returned three kickoffs for 54 yards. Burley added eight tackles with one for loss and his interception while sophomore linebacker Jake Hildebrand had seven tackles and a pass break-up. Junior linebacker Ryan Hartzell added six tackles while Bauer had five stops, a sack and an interception. Petros added four tackles with two sacks, and he is second in school history with 37.5 tackles for loss.
Junior linebacker Greg Martell led Ursinus with a game high 17 tackles to go with a sack and three and a half tackles for loss. Junior defensive end Sean Whalen and junior defensive back Shane Eachus each had six tackles while senior defensive back Shane Whalen and senior defensive lineman Dave Queroli each made five stops.