BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Freshman running back Chris Negron ran for a career-high 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and senior quarterback Robbie Moyer broke the Centennial Conference record with his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season with 159 yards and two scores as the Moravian College football team defeated Gettysburg College, 41-21, in Centennial Conference action Saturday at Rocco Calvo Field.
The Greyhounds, who were just 1-10 all-time against the Bullets and had not defeated Gettysburg in six tries since joining the Centennial Conference in 2007, won their second straight game after an 0-6 start with some impressive offensive numbers. Moravian's only prior win over the Bullets was the first game in the series on October 14, 1978, a 17-7 victory in Bethlehem.
Moravian rushed for 424 yards on 75 carries with Negron gaining his 251 yards, the fourth best game in school history, on 37 carries, and Moyer adding his 159 yards on 30 attempts. The last time that the Greyhounds ran for over 400 yards in a game was on November 8, 2003 when the squad ran for 415 yards at Albright College. Negron also broke Tim Barlok's Moravian freshman record of 665 yards with Negron now at 869 yards for the season with two games remaining. Moyer, who has 701 yards on the ground this fall, broke the Centennial Conference mark for 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback with his fifth of the season. Negron and Moyer have gone for over 100 yards together three times this season.
"Robbie continues to manage the game well and do some really good things for us on the field," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "Chris has progressed every week and now he is hitting his stride which is great to see. They are really jelling together very well. Robbie just has a knack for when to give it to Chris or when to pull the ball out and take off on his own. They are hitting their stride in this new offense."
The Greyhounds offensive line of senior Julian DiGiacomo, juniors Steve Paradiso and Jacob McKee and sophomores Max Neis and Daniel Smith and tight ends senior Chase Zimnik and sophomore Andrew Rocobaldo cleared the way for 508 yards of total offense on 86 plays, Moravian's first game of 500 yards since even 500 at McDaniel College on September 13, 2008. The group did not allow a sack in the game, and the Greyhounds controlled the ball for 32:44, the first time this season Moravian has had time of possession in its favor in a game.
"The offensive line did a great job," Pukszyn said. "Gettysburg was bringing a lot of blitzes, and we picked them up very well."
The game didn't start exactly the way the Greyhounds would have wanted. On the first play from scrimmage, Gettysburg quarterback Zach Miller found Aden Twer with a 62-yard touchdown strike to give the Bullets a 7-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game.
"Gettysburg did a good job to start the game and saw some things on tape from last week." Pukszyn said. "Unfortunately, we gave them seven points right away but the defense did a great job of battling back and giving up just 14 points the rest of the way. It was one play and the defense didn't let it bother them and also did a great job refocusing and getting back after it."
The teams would trade punts twice before Moravian senior defensive back Rees Judge fielded a punt at his own 35-yard line and tip-toed down the Moravian sideline before cutting inside for a 34-yard return to set the Moravian offense up at the Gettysburg 31-yard line.
"That return was great to see with Rees," Pukszyn explained. "This is his first year back there as a punt returner, and he's been working really hard at it. He saw a crease and took advantage of it and bounced it down the sideline."
Five plays later, Negron would get into the end zone for the first time in the game with a nine-yard score. Sophomore David Fiumara made the first of five extra-points in the game for the Greyhounds to tie the score at 7-7 with 3:21 to go in the first quarter.
After forcing a punt, Moravian would take the lead for good early in the second quarter. Moyer would bounce to the far side on a keeper and dive inside the pylon for a 34-yard touchdown run. Fiumara made the lead 14-7 at the 13:20 mark.
The Bullets would attempt to pick up a 4th-and-7 on their next drive but Miller's pass ended up out of bounds to give the Greyhounds the ball at their own 33-yard line. Negron ripped off a 29-yard run on the second play of the drive, and Moyer would find freshman wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio in the back left corner of the end zone with a four-yard touchdown pass to finish the drive. Fiumara would put Moravian in front, 21-7, with 9:34 before the intermission. Moyer was 9-for-11 for 84 yards while Snyder-Scipio caught four passes for 43 yards.
"Jalen is clutch," Pukszyn said. "When you have him and Will McLaughin, who I thought played very well today, on the outside, you have two guys over 6-4 that can be a force. Jalen is an explosive player in the red zone, and can do a lot of different things. He has a lot of snaps ahead of him as just a freshman but we're really excited for what he is doing now."
Gettysburg scored on a Fred Caruso run on its next possession, and the Bullets forced a turnover on Moravian's drive. The Bullets drove into the red zone late in the second quarter but Matt Perkins' 29-yard field goal with 17 seconds before the intermission was wide right, leaving the Greyhounds' lead at 21-14 at the break.
Moravian took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 53 yards on eight carries to extend their lead to 28-14 on a six-yard scoring run of the left side by Moyer and Fiumara's 24th consecutive extra-point of the season.
The teams traded punts once again before the Moravian defense forced a three-and-out. Gettysburg sophomore punter Robby Fay decided to attempt a fake punt but Greyhounds' freshman defensive back Jamil Poole did not fall for the fake and dropped Fay for the three-yard loss to give Moravian the ball at the Gettysburg 29-yard line.
"What an unbelievable play by Jamil," Pukszyn stated. "You always tell the team to be ready for the big fake but that isn't easy. Jamil did a great job reading the play and then going and making the tackle. He's not the biggest kid but Jamil is physical and you saw it on that tackle."
The Greyhounds would take eight plays and 3:11 off the clock to extend their lead. Freshman running back Chris Crosby finished the drive with his first collegiate touchdown on a two-yard run. Crosby finished the game with 17 yards on five carries. Fiumara's extra-point was blocked by Gettysburg sophomore defensive back Brian Calatozzo, Fiumara's first miss as a collegiate kicker, to set the score at 34-14 with 4:35 to play in the third quarter.
The teams would trade punts to end the third quarter and both squads turned the ball over on downs on their first drives of the fourth quarter. Gettysburg put its final points of the game on the scoreboard on a five-yard run by sophomore Kyle Wigley with 5:52 remaining.
Gettysburg attempted an onside kick but Moravian sophomore wide receiver Jimmy McCarthy covered the ball. The Greyhounds needed eight plays to cover the 48 yards to the end zone with Negron finishing the drive with an 18-yard run up the middle for his second score of the game and seventh of the season. Fiumara split the uprights to set the final score at 41-21 with 2:42 to go.
The Bullets moved into the red zone one last time but Miller was sacked by Moravian freshman defensive lineman John Snyder, and Snyder and sophomore defensive lineman Dan Bracken took down Miller with another sack on fourth down to stop the drive.
The Bullets finished the game with 459 yards of offense with Miller completing 18-of-29 passes for 221 yards, and he ran for 58 yards on 21 carries. Wigley led Gettysburg's rushing attack with 98 yards on 16 carries, and he had four receptions for 37 yards. Senior running back Peter Fessenden added four catches for 39 yards while Twer caught three passes for 72 yards.
Sophomore defensive back Anthony Orlando led the Moravian defense with a game-high 15 tackles including 12 solo stops, three tackles for loss, a sack and a pass breakup.
"Anthony has played some of his best football the last few weeks," Pukszyn said. "He's comfortable closer to the line of scrimmage and is doing a great job since we moved him into a nickel linebacker position. He has a high football IQ and a is a physical player, and we saw all of that today."
Junior linebacker Kevin Bracken added nine tackles with one for loss for the Greyhounds while junior defensive back Ricky Sinnig contributed eight tackles and a pass break-up. Freshman defensive back Noah Miller had seven tackles with one pass break-up while junior linebacker Richard Kugel has six stops. Snyder made five tackles including one and a half for loss and one and a half sacks while Judge added four tackles and a pass breakup to his three punt returns for 39 yards.
"The defensive line played a tremendous game," Pukszyn stated. "We asked them to do a hard job this week taking on the read option offense, and they played phenomenal along with our inside linebackers. It was really crucial for them to execute their responsibilities, and they did play after play."
Freshman linebacker Chris Miller led Gettysburg's defense with 12 tackles while sophomore defensive back Michael Kornegay added 11 stops.
Moravian will close out a three-game homestand with its final home game of the 2013 season at Rocco Calvo Field on Saturday, November 9 when the Greyhounds welcome Juniata College to Bethlehem for a 12:00 p.m. Centennial Conference game.