Muskingum travels to Heidelberg in OAC action

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NEW CONCORD, OHIO, October 6, 2010 - The Muskingum University football team heads on the road this Saturday to face the Heidelberg University Student Princes in Ohio Athletic Conference action.

Muskingum and Heidelberg have previously met 87 times on the gridiron, dating back to the first meeting in 1914. Muskingum leads the all-time series, 55-26-6.

The Fighting Muskies (3-1, 2-1) enter the contest after a dominating defensive performance against Wilmington College in last week's 3-0 win. Muskingum held the Quakers to just 92 yards total offense, which included a suffocating negative 19 yards on the ground.

Heidelberg (1-3, 0-3) is coming into the weekend after an offensive shoot-out with Capital University. Heidelberg dropped the contest in Bexley, 60-50.

This game will be a showdown of defense versus offense as each team enters with one unit ranked nationally. For the Muskies, their defense enters the game ranked fourth in the nation in pass efficiency defense, 18th in total defense and 21st in pass defense. Heidelberg's offense currently ranks as the third-rated passing offense and sixth in total offense in the nation.

Muskingum's nationally-ranked defense, which is allowing 18 points and 233.8 yards per contest, is led by junior linebackers Alex Thomas, Ethan Wetzel and James Beatty. Thomas ranks first on the team averaging 7.8 tackles and has also contributed two tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions, three pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Wetzel is tallying 6.3 stops and has logged 3.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and one fumble recovery. Wetzel currently ranks second in the OAC averaging one sack per game. Beatty is averaging 5.8 hits and has one tackle for loss.

The big-play defense is also anchored by senior defensive lineman Chad Bajc, and defensive backs junior Anthony Zarcone, senior Ta'Ron Johnson and senior Dennis Hicks. Bajc has 15 tackles, including five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Bajc currently ranks ninth all-time at Muskingum with 11 career sacks. Zarcone has 20 tackles and three pass breakups. Johnson has 12 tackles, three pass breakups and one forced fumble. Hicks has recorded 11 stops with one interception.

Muskingum's offense is scoring 13.2 points and churning out 218.5 yards per game. Senior quarterback Jake Burns, who became Muskingum's all-time leader in passing yards (4,215) with his 174-yard performance against Wilmington, directs the Muskies' spread-option attack. For the season, Burns is 38-of-70 passing for 469 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. He also has 65 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

Also in the backfield with Burns is junior running back Demetrius Bailey. He has 43 attempts for 138 yards. Bailey also has eight catches for 56 yards and a score. Muskingum senior running back Tony Pellegrino emerged last week with 48 yards on 11 totes, bringing his season numbers to 49 yards on 13 carries.

The offense has had 11 different players record catches this season. Leading the receivers is junior Antowan Logan with 12 receptions for 113 yards. Senior Ben Smith has hauled in nine passes for a team-high 150 yards and one touchdown. Senior Romie Graham has three catches for 48 yards and sophomore Christian Daley has three catches for 32 yards.

Heidelberg's high-octane offense is averaging 36.5 points and 495.8 yards per outing. Leading the attack is senior quarterback Andrew Miller, freshman running back Germany Woods and senior wide receiver Mike Preston.

Miller is coming off a career outing against Capital last Saturday. He completed 30-of-52 passes for 569 yards. Along the way he threw for seven touchdowns and added 18 yards rushing. For the season, Miller has thrown for 1,424 yards on 91-of-154 passing with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Woods has 41 carries for 234 yards and four touchdowns. Preston has recorded 40 catches for 609 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Heidelberg defense is led by junior Andy Fadenholz, senior Vaughn Klein and sophomore Craig Sykes. Fadenholz leads the conference averaging 12.8 stops per game. Klein has 35 tackles with four tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. Sykes has totaled 28 hits, two tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Game time is slated for 1:30 p.m. and can be heard live on WMCO 90.7 FM and on the Muskingum web broadcasting network located at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/musk.portal#.

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