Moravian Holds Off Muhlenberg, 14-13, With Two Second Half Blocked Kicks
Junior defensive back David Wacker blocked a third quarter field goal attempt and junior defensive lineman Patrick Gordon blocked an extra-point with 1:05 to play while sophomore running back Joe Tegan ran for a career high 101 yards and a touchdown to help the Moravian College football team hold on for a 14-13 win over rival Muhlenberg College Saturday afternoon at Rocco Calvo Field in the Centennial Conference and regular season finale for both schools.
The Greyhounds improve to 6-4 overall, 6-3 in Centennial Conference action, with the win, and Moravian is 5-1 with sophomore Matt Johnson at quarterback after he was the starting strong safety on defense for the first four games of the season. The Greyhounds will wait until Monday to see if they have earned a berth to one of three ECAC Division III South Bowl Games.
The Mules, who already clinched the Centennial Conference berth to the NCAA Division III Playoffs, fall to 7-3 overall and 7-2 in conference action. Muhlenberg ends up sharing the Centennial Conference title with Johns Hopkins University and Ursinus College with the loss, and the Mules will find out their opponent for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon.
Tegan, who had his first career 100-yard game, was named Moravian's Most Valuable Player of the annual rivalry game, with his 101 yards and touchdown on 23 carries, and he also caught a pass for five yards. Muhlenberg senior linebacker Patrick McDonough was the Mules' MVP with a game high 13 tackles and a sack for a loss of ten yards.
Muhlenberg opened the game with the ball but on the second play of the game, sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Vaughn was hit for a seven-yard loss on a pass completion and fumbled on the hit from Moravian sophomore defensive back Travis King. Junior linebacker Evan Bauer covered the ball at the Mules' 44 yard line.
Moravian needed seven rushing plays, five by Tegan and two from Johnson to take an early lead. Tegan capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, his third of the season. Junior Ian Heck made the extra-point for a 7-0 Greyhound lead with 10:19 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Mules picked up a first down by penalty on their next possession before junior Kevin Ryan punted for the first time in the game. The Greyhounds were unable to move the ball and senior Eric Dziengelski punted after three plays.
Muhlenberg began its second possession of the game at its own 20-yard line, and the Mules would put together a ten-play, 80-yard scoring drive to tie the game. Sophomore running back Terrence Dandridge finished off the drive with a three-yard scoring run. Senior Michael Katz added the extra-point to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:23 left in the first quarter.
Moravian's offense would run 11 plays on its next drive but gained just 33 yards before Dziengelski punted for the second time in the game. The Mules went three-and-punt on their second drive, and the teams would trade punts again before the Greyhounds took over at their own 20-yard line with 4:16 left in the first half.
Moravian moved the ball down to the Muhlenberg 35-yard line, and faced a third-and-six when Mule junior defensive back Chase Nadell stepped in front of a Johnson pass and returned the interception 27 yards to the Muhlenberg 38-yard line.
However, Muhlenberg would get just three plays off before Vaughn fumbled again at midfield after a hit from Greyhound senior defensive back Daniel Burley. Gordon would cover the ball for Moravian with 17 seconds left until halftime.
The Greyhounds received the opening kickoff of the second half and started from their own 32-yard line. Johnson had a 24-yard run on the second play of the drive and later picked up eight yards on a third-and-seven to put the ball at the Muhlenberg 30-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-seven at the 27, Johnson hit senior wide receiver Shawn Sylvainus with a 27-yard touchdown pass. Heck's extra-point put Moravian up 14-7 with 9:42 to play in the third quarter.
The Mules started from their own 49-yard line after a long kickoff return by Nadell, and Muhlenberg would reach the red zone before the drive stopped at the 18-yard line. Katz lined up for a 35-yard field goal but Wacker came off of the right end and blocked the kick to keep Moravian's lead at 14-7. However, the Greyhounds were unable to capitalize on the block, punting after three plays.
Muhlenberg would start from its own 46-yard line and put together 11 plays to move the ball down to the Moravian three-yard line. Facing third and goal, Mules sophomore quarterback Dan Deighan was intercepted in the end zone by Burley to end the scoring threat.
The Greyhounds ran ten plays and moved the ball near midfield while taking over five minutes off of the clock before punting and pinning the Mules at their own 14-yard line.
Muhlenberg ran just two plays before Deighan was intercepted by senior safety T.J. Dailey, who returned the interception to the Muhlenberg 26-yard line. The Mules would get the ball back after two plays when junior defensive end Kenneth Cobb sacked and stripped the ball from Johnson with Muhlenberg junior linebacker Matt Musick covering the loose ball the Muhlenberg 31.
The Mules faced a third-and-ten after three plays before a 14-yard run by Deighan picked up a first down. Later on the drive on a third-and-15, Deighan found Vaughn with a 16-yard completion to the Moravian 27-yard line. Three plays later on a third-and-ten, Deighan hooked up with Vaughn on a 27-yard touchdown pass to pull Muhlenberg within a point. A low snap on the extra-point attempt gave Gordon enough time to push through the line and block the extra-point to keep Moravian ahead 14-13 with 1:05 to play.
The Mules attempted an onside kick with sophomore Marcus Toomey after Katz was injured on the extra-point but Moravian sophomore running back Rocco Del Priore covered the kick.
Johnson would pick up a first down for Moravian before kneeling down to run out the clock.
The Greyhounds ran 65 plays in the game for 258 yards including 162 yards rushing while holding onto the ball for nearly 33 minutes. Johnson completed 11 of 20 passes for 96 yards with a touchdown and interception, and he added 47 yards on 15 carries while being sacked four times. Del Priore added 15 yards on 16 carries while Sylvainus caught six passes for 71 yards and a score to move into third in school history with 123 receptions, and he is also third in receiving yards with 1,904. Senior wide receiver Alex Hersch caught one pass for 21 yards to move with 37 yards of 1,000 for his career.
Muhlenberg had 232 yards on 60 plays with just 89 yards on the ground. Deighan completed 14 of 27 passes for 143 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown, and he ran for 30 yards on 12 attempts while being sacked four times. Dandridge had 59 yards and a score on 20 carries to go over 1,000 yards for the season while Vaughn caught seven passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. Senior wide receiver Bobby Bushong added five catches for 34 yards.
Junior defensive lineman Seth Payne led the Greyhounds with eight tackles including one and a half tackles for loss and a half a sack while King also had eight tackles with a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Wacker had seven tackles and a sack to go with his blocked kick while Dailey contributed six tackles with a sack and interception. Sophomore linebacker Jake Hildebrand contributed six stops with a pass break-up while Burley had five tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. Senior linebacker Philip Bortz had five tackles as well for Moravian.
McDonough led the Mules defense while Cobb added eight tackles with two and a half tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. Sophomore linebacker Shane O'Connor made seven stops with a tackle for loss while Musick had six tackles with one tackle for loss. Senior linebacker Mark Accomando had five stops.