Allentown, Pa. – Cody Geyer accounted for 265 all-purpose yards and made the game-changing play and Jeremey Thomas recorded five tackles for loss as the Muhlenberg football team overcame a slow start to defeat Susquehanna, 38-18, to head into its bye week with a 3-2 record.
Freshman quarterback Nick Palladino threw for 166 yards and rushed for two touchdowns, and Kevin Van Laar also scored twice on the ground in his return to action after missing a game with an injury.
On the Mules' first offensive play from scrimmage, Palladino was sacked by Jared Minori in the end zone for a safety. Later in the quarter, the Crusaders (0-5) drove 31 yards in nine plays to take a 5-0 lead on Spencer Hotaling's 40-yard field goal.
After that, except for a couple of plays, it was all Muhlenberg. And it started six minutes into the second quarter when Geyer fielded a punt at his own 10 and returned it 82 yards to the Susquehanna 8 before getting tackled by punter T.J. Morton. It was the fourth-longest punt return in Mule history, and it set up Van Laar's 1-yard plunge two plays later.
Muhlenberg recovered an onside kick following the touchdown, but that drive ended when Jameal Hammond intercepted a pass inside the 20-yard line. The Mules regained possession near midfield after forcing a punt, and on the fourth play Palladino scampered 36 yards for a score to make it 14-5.
Connor Winter added a 39-yard field goal with 5 seconds left in the half.
Muhlenberg's first drive of the second half was as unproductive as its first of the first half, with a tackle for loss and a sack forcing Winter to punt from the back of the end zone. Duke Hyacinthe blocked the punt and immediately caught the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point went wide, leaving the score 17-11.
The Mules put the game out of reach, however, by scoring on their next two possessions. Van Laar's 4-yard TD capped a drive that included a 54-yard completion from Palladino to Geyer, and Mike Harris ran a jet sweep 3 yards for a score six plays after a John Feaster interception.
Palladino's 8-yard run capped the Muhlenberg scoring in the fourth quarter. The Crusaders scored a touchdown in the final minute on a combined 20-yard fumble return by Minori and Mason Spangler.
The Mules allowed only 144 yards and nine first downs and forced Susquehanna to punt 10 times. Thomas' five tackles for loss included a sack that forced a fumble, and he also intercepted a pass.
Geyer finished with four punt returns for 140 yards, setting a school record with his average of 35.0 yards per return. He also caught four passes for 91 yards in becoming the first Mule to total 250 all-purpose yards in a game since 2003. Van Laar finished with 62 yards on 13 carries.
Tim Wade led the Crusaders in both rushing (11-55) and receiving (4-29). Cam Olson, making his second career start, was 9-of-19 for 71 yards and two picks.