COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. --- Sophomore kicker Kenny Kane split the uprights with a 23-yard field goal with just 3:54 remaining to give the Moravian College football team a 33-32 win at Ursinus College in Centennial Conference action Saturday as the Greyhounds rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit.
The Hounds improve to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in Centennial Conference action for the second straight season heading into the conference wide bye week next Saturday.
"In the first half today, the wheels were coming off a little bit so at halftime we talked about playing for each other, and how hard we worked in the offseason," commented Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "They responded really well. I thought we fed off each other's momentum. When we made some mistakes, they had each other backs offensively and defensively and made some special teams plays today that were critical. I couldn't be more proud of how they played in the last 30 minutes."
The one-point victory for the Greyhounds is the first for the program since a 14-13 win over Muhlenberg College in 2010.
"You'd love them to be more than a point but we'll take it," stated Pukszyn. "Credit to Kenny Kane for having ice in his veins. One field goal was 34 yards and just got over the cross bar, and then the game winner along with Nick as the long snapper and Kordell holding, they all felt the pressure. Those guys work hard in practice and it paid off today."
Moravian's offense picked up 407 yards on 87 plays while controlling the clock for 30:53 in the game. Senior quarterback Mike Hayes completed 33-of-51 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown, and his first two completions of the game gave him 430 for his career, breakingSean Keville's career mark of 429. Hayes now has 461 completions, and he has 782 attempts, 39 touchdown passes and 5,328 yards.
"When you have two pick sixes, conventional wisdom says you won't win but the guys had Mike's back and he came through in the end," Pukszyn said.
Junior wide receiver Aaron Hudson caught a team-high nine passes for 79 yards while senior wide receiver Liam Nolan had six receptions for 44 yards. Nolan moved into ninth in school history with 95 career receptions, and he has 1,248 career receiving yards. Junior wide receiverJustice Anderson added four catches for 41 yards while junior wide receiver Kyle Ferrymancaught four passes for 47 yards.
Hayes also led the Moravian rushing attack with 68 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Senior Chris Negron added 56 yards on 18 carries as he broke Chris Jacoubs' career rushing record of 3,854 yards with a 12-yard carry in the second quarter. Negron now has 3,897 yards on 750 carries in his career, and he also caught five passes for 29 yards against Ursinus. Freshman Roberto Diez added 10 yards on three carries, and he caught two passes for 17 yards while junior defensive lineman Jorden Stout scored his third rushing touchdown of the season on his fourth attempt of the year.
Moravian's defense allowed 401 yards but limited the Bears to just five yards rushing on 20 attempts. It is the second straight season that the Greyhounds held Ursinus to five yards rushing.
Senior linebacker Ed Delia led the Hounds defense with 17 tackles including 10 solo stops and a pass break-up. Sophomore linebacker Owen Perih added nine stops while sophomore defensive back Nick Zambelli and senior defensive back Noah Miller each had eight tackles withZambelli adding an interception he returned 16 yards. Senior defensive lineman John Snyderand freshman linebacker Joseph Milano each had five tackles.
"Ed is playing as well as a senior can play," Pukszyn said. "He came into camp in great shape and having fun. Since we didn't see him in the spring while he was playing lacrosse, we are thrilled to have Ed playing as well as he is, and Ed is also raising the play of all of the other linebackers around him."
The Greyhounds received the opening kickoff with Nolan returning the kick 70 yards into the red zone. Nolan had four kickoff returns for 137 yards in the game. However, a penalty led to Moravian turning the ball over on downs.
The next four possessions ended in punts before Ursinus took over at the Moravian 45-yard line. The Bears would drive down and score but miss the extra-point for a 6-0 lead with 1:56 left in the first quarter.
The Greyhounds were unable to move the ball and the Bears drove down and kicked a 30-yard field goal to extended the lead to 9-0 with 11:31 left in the second quarter.
Moravian's next drive ended with Hayes sacked on fourth down but the Greyhounds would get ball right back when Zambelli made his third interception of the season, returning it 16 yards. The Greyhounds turned the miscue into points with Hayes running inside the right pylon for a four-yard touchdown. After a bad snap on the extra-point, junior quarterback Kordell Theadfordpicked up the loose ball and ran to the left and inside the left pylon for the two-point conversion to cut the Ursinus lead to 9-8 with 5:29 remaining in the second quarter.
"Kordell has some legs on him and he can scoot," noted Pukszyn. "He is the definition of a dual threat quarterback. To be the holder and have something that went very wrong, he made right because of his legs and his smarts. Some people will panic in that situation but Kordell wants his hands on the ball."
The Blue and Grey forced a punt on the next Ursinus possession but the Bears would extend their lead to 16-8 with an interception return for a touchdown on Moravian's first play.
Ursinus tried on an onside kick that failed. Moravian would move down and set up 34-yard field goal by Kane that bounced off of the crossbar as it went through to cut the Ursinus lead to 16-11 with 2:02 until the intermission.
The Bears added one more touchdown before halftime to head to the locker room with a 23-11 advantage.
Ursinus started the second half with the ball and moved into the red zone before senior defensive back Khalil Raymond made an interception and returned it 36 yards near midfield. It wasRaymond's second interception of the season, and he also had four tackles in the game.
The Greyhounds moved down the field and scored on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Hayes toHudson. Kane added the extra point as Moravian cut the deficit to 23-18 with 9:09 left in the third quarter.
Ursinus would move past midfield on its next possession before the Greyhounds forced a short fourth down. The Bears looked to run a fake but the punter decided to kick the ball at the last second and Moravian junior defensive lineman Connor Rooney got a hand up to block the punt.
The Hounds were unable to capitalize on the blocked punt but the defense would hold and force the Bears to kick as well.
Moravian took over on its own 45-yard line with 2:21 to play in the third quarter, and the Hounds would take their first lead of the contest on the first play of the fourth quarter when Hayesscored on his second four-yard touchdown run of the game. The Greyhounds went for two butHayes' pass was knocked down to keep Moravian's lead at 24-23.
The Bears took the ensuing kickoff and moved into the red zone before the Greyhounds defense made a stop and forced a 20-yard field goal that put Ursinus ahead 26-24.
The lead would grow larger one play into the Greyhounds' possession when Hayes was intercepted again with the return into the end zone for another pick six. The extra-point sailed wide and gave Ursinus a 32-24 lead with 9:18 remaining.
Moravian wouldn't give up and marched down the field with Stout getting into the end zone on a two-yard run to cap a nine-play, 58-yard drive. Hayes came up short again on the two-point conversion pass as the Greyhounds cut the Ursinus lead to 32-30 with 6:51 left in the game.
On the Bears' second play of their drive after a completion and a penalty, the ball ended up on the turf with Stout scooping up the ball and returning it eight yards to set the Moravian offense up at the 12-yard line.
The Hounds picked up six yards before bringing Kane on for a 23-yard field goal with 3:54 to play. Kane, who is six-for-six on field goals this fall, gave the Greyhounds a 33-32 lead with the kick.
Moravian's defense forced the Bears to punt after three plays with sophomore defensive lineman/long snapper Nick Tone making his second sack of the game on third down.
Hayes and the Hounds' offense would run out the clock as Negron picked up 15 yards for a first down and Hayes hit freshman running back Ra'Von Burton for a nine-yard pass and another first down. Burton had two catchers for 19 yards. Hayes would kneel down twice to finish the game.
The Greyhounds will have a week off with the Centennial Conference bye scheduled for next week. Moravian's next game is slated for Saturday, October 15 when the Blue and Grey host Susquehanna University in the school's annual Homecoming game kicking off at 1:00 p.m. at Rocco Calvo Field in Bethlehem.