Moravian Defeats Wilkes, 26-14, to Capture ECAC Southeast Bowl Championship

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Sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson threw for four touchdowns and was named the Most Outstanding Player while leading the Moravian College football team to a 26-14 win over host Wilkes University in the 2010 ECAC Division III Southeast Bowl Championship at the Ralston Athletic Complex Saturday afternoon.

The Greyhounds finish the year at 7-4 and on a five-game winning streak. For Moravian, which was 6-1 after Johnson moved to quarterback from starting strong safety in week five, it is the second ECAC Bowl Championship in five appearances. The Greyhounds' other bowl title was a Southwest Championship in 2005. Wilkes closes out the 2010 season with a 6-5 record.

The Colonels received the opening kickoff and the squads would trade punts on the opening four possessions of the game. Wilkes started its third drive of the game in Moravian territory and drove down to the six-yard line before junior kicker Chris Horn came on to attempt a 24-yard field goal, but it was wide right leaving the game scoreless.

Moravian took over at its own 20-yard line and put together a 12-play, 80-yard drive for the first points of the game. During the drive, Johnson had a five-yard run and a ten-yard pass to senior wide receiver Alex Hersch to pickup third downs, and Johnson found sophomore wide receiver Ryan Onushco with a five-yard touchdown pass on a third down play. Junior Ian Heck missed the extra-point to the left, keeping the score 6-0 with 11:29 to play in the second quarter.

Wilkes picked up a first down on the ensuing drive before punting back to the Greyhounds.

The Greyhounds took over at their own ten-yard line and picked up a first down before facing a fourth-and-three at the Moravian 33-yard line. The Greyhounds called a fake punt with a direct snap to sophomore linebacker Jake Hildebrand, who ran nine yards for a first down to keep the drive alive. After a penalty moved the ball into Wilkes territory, Johnson found senior wide receiver Shawn Sylvainus for a 26-yard completion to the Colonel five-yard line. Three plays later, Johnson hit Sylvainus with a two-yard touchdown pass. The Greyhounds attempted a two-point conversion but sophomore running back Rocco Del Priore fumbled the ball on a option play to keep Moravian's lead at 12-0 with 59 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Colonels started moving the ball downfield on their next drive and were in Moravian territory when Greyhound senior linebacker Philip Bortz stepped in front of a pass from sophomore quarterback Tyler Bernsten and ran the interception back 50-yards to the Wilkes 12-yard line.

Johnson needs just one play, as 12-yard touchdown to Sylvainus, to increase the Greyhounds' lead. Heck connected on the extra-point to send Moravian to the locker room with a 19-0 lead.

The Greyhounds received the opening kickoff of the second half and moved the ball to the Wilkes 22-yard line before brining Heck onto attempt a 40-yard field goal attempt, which was wide left.

The Colonels would drive the 78 yards after the missed field goal and score their first points of the game. Junior running back Zach Tivald had a two-yard touchdown run to cap the 12-play while Horn made the extra-point to cut Moravian's lead to 19-7 with 6:00 left in the third quarter. 

Moravian answered right back with a ten-play, 54-yard drive after the second straight 31-yard kickoff return from junior running back Langston Ross. The Greyhounds picked up a pair of third-and-one plays in the drive before Johnson found junior linebacker Evan Bauer, who has seen action the last seven weeks on offense in short yardage situations, with a four-yard touchdown pass. Heck added the extra-point to push Moravian's lead to 26-7 with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Wilkes moved right down on the field on its next possession, picking up a fourth-and-one on a run from freshman quarterback Alex George. George would finish off the 11-play, 69-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Shawn Gregson. Horn's extra-point set the score at 26-14 with 11:33 to play.

Moravian would punt after five plays on their next drive, but the Greyhounds would get the ball back after three plays on an interception of George by Bauer at the Wilkes 40-yard line. Moravian couldn't capitalize, punting after three plays. 

The Colonels were moving the ball when George was intercepted by Greyhound junior linebacker Ryan Hartzell, who returned the ball ten yards to midfield. Moravian again punted after three plays but Gregson muffed the punt, and Moravian freshman defensive back Dalton Petit covered the ball for the Greyhounds at the Wilkes seven-yard line. Moravian ended up moving backwards before Heck came on to attempt a 33-yard field goal, which was wide right.

Wilkes took over at its own 20-yard line and put together one final drive, moving into the red zone. However, on second-and-ten from the 12-yard line, George was intercepted again when senior defensive back Michael Burke grabbed a pass at the Moravian seven-yard line. It was Burke's first career interception. The Greyhounds would kneel down twice to finish the game.

Moravian's offense ran 67 plays for 284 yards while controlling the ball for over 35 minutes in the game. Johnson was 19-for-26 for 184 yards with four touchdowns, and he ran for 25 yards on 13 carries while being sacked twice. Del Priore had six receptions for 63 yards, and he had nine yards on eight carries. Sophomore running back Joe Tegan had 45 yards on 16 carries while Hersch had one carry for 14 yards and three receptions for 27 yards. Sylvainus caught five passes for 53 yards and two scores to finish his career second in school history with 128 receptions for 1,957 yards, also second in school history, and 12 touchdowns. Onushco had three catches for 40 yards and a score.

The Colonels, who had just 112 yards in the first half, ran 69 plays for 385 yards with George completing 20-of-31 passes for 203 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. George also had 49 yards on 12 carries while being sacked once while Bernsten was six-for-seven for 60 yards with three sacks and an interception. Tivald finished with 58 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, and he caught nine passes for 61 yards. Senior wide receiver Jordan D'Emilio had six catches for 54 yards while junior wide receiver Todd Eagles had three catches for 38 yards.

Senior defensive back Daniel Burley led the Greyhounds on defense with 12 tackles while Hildebrand made ten stops. Bortz and senior defensive back Thomas Dailey each had seven tackles with Bortz adding his interception. Sophomore defensive back Travis King had six tackles, a forced fumble and a pass break-up while junior defensive back David Wacker had six stops. Senior defensive lineman Allen Petros made four tackles, all for loss, with three sacks for the Greyhounds. Petros is second in school history with 41.5 tackles for loss.

Freshman linebacker Tate Moore-Jacobs led Wilkes with 15 tackles, a half a sack and three and a half tackles for loss while senior defensive back Kevin Gerhart had ten tackles with two for loss and a pass break-up. Senior linebacker Ryan Clifford had nine tackles with on for loss of the Colonels while senior defensive back Greg Neilsen added eight tackles.