BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Senior quarterback Mike Hayes threw a pair of second half touchdown passes to snap a halftime tie and sophomore defensive back Nick Zambelli made a pair of fourth quarter interceptions in the end zone as the Moravian College football team posted a 24-10 Centennial Conference victory over Dickinson College at Rocco Calvo Field Saturday afternoon.
The Greyhounds bounced back from last week's loss at nationally-ranked Johns Hopkins University to improve to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in Centennial Conference action. Moravian remained undefeated at home at 3-0 this season, and the Hounds have won seven straight games at Rocco Calvo Field.
"It was good that we battled back since we hurt ourselves in the first half more by execution," commented Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "We talked at halftime about it being a defining moment to see what we are made of. We started a little slow and slept walked through the first half. Could we come out and turn it on. I thought we did, offense and defense complimented each other well. The defense played with its back against the wall and made some plays in the second half that we didn't in the first half."
Hayes completed 29-of 38 passes for 272 yards as he went over 1,000 yards for the season and 5,000 for his career, now with 1,156 yards in 2016 and 5,054 yards in his career, the fifth Greyhound to reach the 5,000 yards passing milestone. Junior wide receiver Aaron Hudson had a team-high nine receptions for 64 yards and a score while senior wide receiver Liam Nolancaught seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver Kyle Ferryman had four catches for 47 yards while junior wide receiver Justice Anderson added four receptions for 25 yards.
Senior Chris Negron led the Greyhounds' rushing attack with his fourth 100-yard game of the season as he gained 104 yards on 23 carries. Negron's 18th career 100-yard game increased his career total to 3,841 yards, just 14 shy of breaking Moravian's all-time record set by Chris Jacoubs. Hayes added 30 yards on eight carries while freshman running back Roberto Diezcontributed 22 yards on five attempts. Moravian finished with 430 yards of offense while running 78 plays and controlling the clock for 31:28.
"Chris's effort was great today," stated Pukszyn. "When he looks at the film, he looks at everything including how he is pass protection and running his pass routes. He wants to be a complete player and those numbers will come when you put the effort in both on and off the field."
For the first time this season, the Greyhounds did not receive the opening kickoff but the defense would force a punt after one first down for Dickinson. Moravian's first offensive series started with a penalty, pushing the Blue and Grey to their own 2-yard line. The Hounds put together a 16-play, 85-yard drive that would end with sophomore Kenny Kane connecting on a 27-yard field goal with 7:07 to play in the first quarter.
Dickinson punted again after three plays as the Greyhounds took over at their own 26-yard line.Negron had a 15-yard run to start the drive, and Hayes connected with Nolan on a 39-yard catch and run to put Moravian in the red zone. Three plays later, junior defensive linemanJorden Stout scored his second touchdown of the season on a one-yard run. Kane's extra-point pushed the lead to 10-0 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.
The teams traded punts before the Red Devils started at their own 32-yard line early in the second quarter. Dickinson would drive the 68 yards to the end zone in six plays to cut the Moravian lead to 10-7 with 8:48 left in the second quarter.
The squads each punted again before Moravian took possession near midfield. The Hounds moved down to 21-yard line before the drive ended with Diez being stopped short on a fourth-and-one play. The Red Devils took the stop and moved down the field to kick a 24-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to send the teams to the locker room tied at 10-10.
The Hounds received the opening kickoff of the second half and moved back in front with a touchdown. Hayes completed four passes on the drive, the final one to Hudson for a 30-yard touchdown. Kane's PAT gave Moravian a 17-10 lead just 2:52 into the third quarter.
The teams traded punts on the next four possessions, and Dickinson was threatening to tie the game as the fourth quarter began. However, Zambelli came up with his first interception of the season in the end zone on a second down play in the end zone.
The Hounds used the turnover to score the final points of the game. Hayes capped the 80-yard drive with a 39-yard scoring pass to Nolan, who broke a tackle on the way to the end zone. Kane's extra-point pushed Moravian's lead to 24-10 with 10:37 remaining in the game.
Dickinson threatened again from just outside the red zone but freshman defensive back Alkiohn Dunkins broke up the fourth down pass attempt. However, Moravian was unable to move the ball and punted.
The Red Devils made one more attempt to score but Zambelli came up with his second interception of the quarter at the goal line and returned it three yards. Negron ran the ball twice and Hayes kneeled down twice to run out the clock for the win.
"I can't be more proud of Nick and the effort he had today," Pukszyn noted. "I think he really grew up in the secondary today. We talked about defensive backs having a short memory, and he showed that out there today."
Senior linebacker Edward Delia led the Moravian defense with 11 tackles including two tackles for loss, half a tackle for loss and one pass breakup. Dunkins added eight tackles and a pass break-up while sophomore linebacker Steve Ewald had eight stops and a pass break-up.Zambelli contributed four tackles and three passes defended to go with his two interceptions while freshman linebacker Tim Valentine and senior defensive back Chris Lott each made four stops with Lott adding a half a sack.
Moravian closes out the first half of the season next Saturday, October 1 in a Centennial Conference game at Ursinus College kicking off at 1:00 p.m. in Collegeville.