BETHLEHEM, PA --- The Moravian College football team scored three touchdowns in the final 25 minutes on a rushing score from junior running back C.J. Billera, a receiving touchdown by senior tight end Mike Zanoni and an interception return from senior linebacker Douglas DiMattia to cap a rally from a 7-0 deficit to earn a 28-7 win over visiting Juniata College in Centennial Conference action at Rocco Calvo Field Saturday.
Moravian snaps a four-game losing streak with the win to improve to 2-7 overall and 2-6 in Centennial Conference action as the Greyhounds won their first home game of the season in their final game at Rocco Calvo Field in 2011. Moravian will close out its season next Saturday, November 12 in a conference game at rival Muhlenberg College with kickoff at 1:00 p.m. at Scotty Wood Stadium in Allentown. Juniata falls to 0-9 overall and 0-8 in Centennial Conference action with the win.
The Greyhounds received the opening kickoff and picked up a first down on a 21-yard run by sophomore quarterback Robbie Moyer on the first play of the game. However, two plays later Moyer was sacked and fumble on a hit by Juniata sophomore linebacker Chris Beall. Sophomore defensive lineman David Weiss covered the ball for the Eagles.
Juniata's first drive of the game would go backwards with freshman quarterback Ward Udinski being sacked by DiMattia and senior defensive lineman Allen Petros, and Udinski fumbling after a hit from Moravian senior linebacker Evan Bauer. The Eagles punted after three plays.
Moravian's next possession would end at the Juniata 39-yard line when Moyer was intercepted by Juniata freshman defensive back Keith Stewart. The Eagle punted after three plays but would get a break when the punt bounced off of a Moravian player and was recovered by Juniata freshman linebacker Cody Johnson. However, the Eagles were unable to capitalize when Udinski was intercepted in the end zone by Greyhounds' sophomore defensive back Brandon Lesko.
The Greyhounds picked up a first down before Moyer was intercepted by Juniata freshman defensive back Nicholas Stubbs, who grabbed a bouncing ball out of the air and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. Junior kicker Scott Andrews added the extra-point to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 4:28 to play in the first quarter.
Over the next five possessions, Moravian punted three times while Juniata punted twice. On Moravian's third punt of the series, junior Tyler Thompson was able to angle the ball out-of-bounds at the Juniata one-yard line. On the first play of the Eagles' drive, Udinski lost control of the snap trying to sneak forward for a few yards and fumbled.
Greyhounds' senior defensive back D.J. Wacker covered the ball at the Juniata four-yard line. Two plays later, Moyer dove over the middle of the pile for his second rushing touchdown of the season in as many games. Senior Ian Heck added the extra-point to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:24 remaining in the second quarter.
The Eagles picked up just their second first down of the game on their next drive before Moravian junior defensive back Travis King intercepted a pass down the Moravian sideline at the Greyhounds' nine-yard line. Moravian ran just three plays before punting and the next three drives combined ended in punts before Juniata took a knee to end the first half tied at 7-7.
The Eagles received the opening kickoff of the second half and were able to run just three plays before punting the ball over to Moravian.
The Greyhounds started their first possession of the second half at their own 28-yard line with junior Matt Johnson at quarterback. Johnson led the Greyhounds on a seven-play, 72-yard drive to take the lead. Billera started the drive with an 11-yard run, and he caught a 27-yard pass from Johnson to put the ball in the red zone before finishing the drive with a seven-yard touchdown scamper off the left side, his team leading third rushing touchdown on the season. Heck's extra-point put Moravian ahead 14-7 with ten minutes to play in the third quarter.
Juniata had another three-and-out before Moravian turned the ball over on downs. The Greyhounds would need just two plays to get the ball back when King intercepted his second Udinski pass of the game, and returned the ball four yards to the Moravian 44-yard line.
The Greyhounds would put together an 11-play, 56-yard drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock and included a pair of fourth down conversions, one on a penalty and one on a 13-yard pass from Johnson to Zanoni. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Johnson connected with Zanoni on a 12-yard touchdown pass. For Zanoni, it was his first collegiate touchdown reception in his final career home game. Heck's extra-point pushed the Moravian lead to 21-7 with 14:53 remaining.
The Eagles had another three-and-out drive before the Greyhounds took over at their own nine-yard line. Moravian moved the ball to its 48-yard line but called on Thompson to punt on fourth-and-one. Thompson's punt was partially blocked by Juniata sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Felus, and the Eagles started their next drive at the Moravian 46-yard line.
Juniata picked up a first down before turning possession back over to the Greyhounds at the Moravian 20-yard line. However, the Greyhounds gained just one first down as well before Thompson punted for the seventh time in the game.
The Eagles started from their own 20-yard line and moved out to the 34-yard line before facing a fourth-and-13. On that play, Udinski was intercepted by DiMattia at midfield, and returned the ball through the Juniata offense and dove for the pylon to score. The interception return for DiMattia was his second of the season and both have come in the fourth quarter to seal Moravian's two wins this fall. Heck would make the extra-point for his 82nd career point, moving him into fifth in school history in kick scoring and giving the Greyhounds a 28-7 lead with 1:36 left.
Penalties before and after the kickoff would give Juniata the ball at the Moravian 35-yard line but the Eagles were unable to gain a first down and turned the ball back to the Greyhounds. Johnson kneeled down twice to end the game.
Moravian ran 70 plays in the game for 280 yards. Johnson completed nine-of-ten passes in the second half for 122 yards with a touchdown, and he added 23 yards on nine carries while being sacked twice. Moyer was eight-for-16 for 46 yards with two interceptions, and he added 26 yards a touchdown on seven carries while also being sacked twice. Billera led the Greyhounds' rushing attack with 42 yards and a score on 18 carries, and he caught four passes for 34 yards. Senior running back Phillip Redline had 23 yards on eight attempts in his first start of the season. Zanoni caught a game and career high seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown while senior Ray Olivo had three receptions for 47 yards in his final game at Rocco Calvo Field.
Juniata picked up 83 yards on 55 plays as Moravian held a 16-4 edge in first downs in the game. Udinski was 13-for-26 for 59 yards and was intercepted four times and sacked four times. Sophomore running back Zach McCaulley had 33 yards on eight carries to lead the Eagles while Stubbs added nine yards on four rushing attempts while seeing action on both sides of the ball. Junior wide receiver Julian Valdiserri had three catches for 19 yards for Juniata while junior wide receiver Quadir Christian added two receptions for 12 yards.
Lesko and senior linebacker Ryan Hartzell each had six tackles to lead the Moravian defense with Leski adding an interception, two passes defended and a tackle for loss. Bauer, Petros and DiMattia each had five tackles in the game with Bauer contributing two sacks and a forced fumble. Petros had one and a half sacks in the game to raise his career total to 28, just three and a half shy of the school record, and he improved his school record in tackles for loss to 63.5. DiMattie had a half a sack and the interception return for a touchdown while senior defensive lineman Seth Payne and senior linebacker Stephen Kircher each had four tackles. Payne contributed two tackles for loss while King had three tackles to go with his two interceptions.
Sophomore linebacker Kevin Gorman led the Juniata defense with a game high 11 tackles that included on sack. Freshman linebacker Ethan Wilt had eight tackles while junior linebacker Noah Walstrom had seven tackles with one for loss. Senior defensive back Andrew Masullo, senior defensive lineman Jason Marquis, sophomore defensive lineman Jared Shope and Stewart each had five tackles for the Eagles with Marquis adding a sack and Shope contributing one and a half tackles for loss.