BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College football team opened its 2016 Centennial Conference season with a 55-27 victory over McDaniel College at Rocco Calvo Field Saturday as the Greyhounds set two team records and had three seniors – running back Chris Negron, wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio and quarterback Mike Hayes break records as well.
The Greyhounds, who are now 2-0 on the season and have won 10 of their last 13 games, had a school record 673 yards of total offense on 80 plays, and Moravian picked up a school record 34 first downs. The previous total offense mark was set in 2015 with 591 yards versus Franklin & Marshal College on October 24 while the previous mark of 31 first downs was set on October 30, 1976 at Johns Hopkins University.
"Getting to 1-0 in the conference is great, and it was nice to play at home again this week so the full roster could dress and we played a lot of guys too," commented Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "To come out with this win is a good start to the conference season since they all count in the Centennial Conference, every game becomes more important."
Moravian's offense had a balanced attack against the Green Terror with 372 rushing yards on 54 attempts and 301 passing yards on 26 passes, and for the second straight week, the Hounds scored on six straight possessions to begin the game. It was also the second consecutive week that the Blue and Grey have not punted until the second half of the game.
"Big things come into play when you execute, and we were able to do that today," noted Pukszyn. "When they execute one play at a time, the big stats will show up and they did today. I'm proud of our guys not having to punt in the first half in either game this season. I'm most proud of our offense battling back after giving up a kickoff return after our first touchdown. A year or two ago, that may have snowballed but the team is mentally tough right now and came right back."
Negron broke three school records as he picked up 167 yards on 16 carries including touchdowns of 11 and five yards, and he also caught two passes for 11 yards with a 5-yard touchdown catch. The two rushing scores give Negron a school record 34 rushing touchdowns in his career, and he also now has the school career records for overall touchdowns with 38 in 33 games and 228 total points. Negron is second all-time with 3,618 career rushing yards on 688 attempts, and he needs just 237 yards for that school record.
"It feels good to set the records," stated Negron. "It is very rewarding for all the hard work that you put in. I couldn't do it without the big guys up front throughout my career, a huge shout out to them for helping me get the records. This year we've been clicking on all cylinders. Offensively, we're very experienced. Every game, practice, rep after rep, we strive for perfection and on game day the last two weeks, we've been executing."
Snyder-Scipio grabbed a team-high five passes for 72 yards and a 33-yard touchdown. On the play before reaching the end zone, Snyder-Scipio caught his 141st career pass to break the Greyhounds' career mark, and he now has 143 receptions for 1,619 yards, tied for fifth all-time, and 14 touchdowns, tied for third.
"It's awesome since the guys that were up there were great players and parts of great teams," Snyder-Scipio said. "As far as I'm concerned, all the players that I've played with, the offensive line, quarterbacks, all the receivers and include the Moravian College football family in that because none of my receptions would happen without those guys. We just try to play as fast as possible and play our own game. Each week the coaches put together a great game plan, taking time away from their families just to get us ready for the next week by breaking down film and coming out and having a great week of practice that translates to Saturdays."
Hayes set a school record for completion percentage in a game at 90.9 as he completed 20-of-22 passes for 265 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Hayes connected with seven different receivers, and threw touchdowns of 13, 33 and five yards. Hayes sits in fifth place in school history with 4,517 yards, 35 touchdowns, 373 completions and 638 attempts in his third year as a starter, and he also is fourth in school history with 5,037 yards of total offense. In Saturday's game, Hayes also ran the ball seven times for 51 yards including a two-yard touchdown, and he was sacked twice.
"We always talk about trying being perfect, and if you get to excellent while trying to be perfect, that's great and Mike did that today," Pukszyn explained. "I keep referring to him the point guard of our offense, he did a great job distributing a ball to our playmakers and letting them play. Mike had a big week one to week two jump."
Hayes played just one series in the second half before junior Kordell Theadford came on. Theadford completed 2-of-3 passes for 36 yards, and he added 40 yards on three rushing attempts including a 7-yard touchdown to finish off the scoring in the game. Junior wide receiver Justice Anderson had four receptions for 77 yards while senior wide receiver Liam Nolan caught four passes for 44 yards including a 13-yard touchdown. Junior wide receiver Aaron Hudson pulled in three receptions for 40 yards while junior tight end Aaron Brown had two catches for 39 yards and punted once for 42 yards.
Freshman running back Roberto Diez added two catches for 28 yards through the air, and he ran for 67 yards on 12 carries with a 6-yard touchdown scamper. Junior A.J. Adamczyk picked up 26 yards on 11 carries while Hudson had one attempt for 25 yards. Freshman running back Ra'Von Burton added 11 yards on two carries while junior defensive lineman Jorden Stout had two yards on one carry and punted once for 43 yards with the ball rolling out at the 1-yard line.
Moravian's defense had four takeaways with senior linebacker Edward Delia intercepting a pass for the second straight week. Delia also recovered a fumble to go with six tackles while senior defensive back Noah Miller and freshman defensive back Alkiohn Dunkins each made diving interceptions. Dunkins had four tackles in the game while Miller made two stops.
"That is what we need the defense to do, get the ball back to the offense when they can," Pukszyn said. "We need to keep winning the turnover battle. There aren't going to be many low scoring games in college football any more so we just need to keep the ball in front of us and tackle well in space. That will give our offense more opportunities and we were able to do that today."
Sophomore linebacker Owen Perih led the Greyhounds with seven tackles and a forced fumble while freshman defensive back Nick Johnson made six stops. Sophomore linebackers Steve Ewald and Dallas Owen each made five tackles with Ewald adding one of Moravian's four tackles for loss.
Moravian received the opening kickoff and needed just 1:15 and four plays to cover 65 yards to the end zone with Hayes scoring on a 2-yard run. Sophomore Kenny Kane kicked the first of his school-record tying seven extra-points in the game. The lead would only last 14 seconds as McDaniel returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
The Hounds moved back in front for good when Negron dove into the pylon to finish off an 11-yard run. The score finished off a 7-play, 69-yard drive. Moravian pushed the lead to 21-7 with 4:03 left in the first quarter when Hayes connected on a 13-yard touchdown with Nolan.
After the Green Terror scored on a short pass on the first play of the second quarter, Moravian scored three more times before the intermission. Hayes hit Snyder-Scipio with a 33-yard touchdown as Snyder-Scipio broke two tackles on the play before Negron broke the rushing touchdown record on a five-yard run with 7:14 before halftime. After Delia's interception, Moravian had a short field with Diez capping the drive with his first career touchdown at the 5:58 mark.
Negron grabbed a 5-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to make the lead 49-14. McDaniel would score next but the Green Terror would only get six points as freshman defensive lineman Nick Cregar blocked the extra-point.
Moravian's final points came on Theadford's 7-yard run towards the left pylon. The Green Terror blocked the extra point by Kane, and McDaniel finished off the scoring with 6:49 remaining in the contest.
The Greyhounds are scheduled to return to action on Saturday, September 17 in the team's first road game of the year when Moravian travels to nationally-ranked Johns Hopkins University for a 12:00 p.m. Centennial Conference game in Balitmore.