KING'S FOOTBALL EDGS MISERICORDIA 41-40 IN OVERTIME TO POST FIRST WIN OF SEASON
DALLAS — Junior tailback Kyle McGrath scored the go-ahead touchdown on the first possession of the second overtime and sophomore defensive back Tyler Struckus broke up the game-winning two-point conversion as the King's College football team posted a dramatic 41-40 victory over host Misericordia University Saturday at Manglesdorf Field.
With the win, King's improved to 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the Middle Atlantic Conference. Misericordia, meanwhile, fell to 0-5 and 0-4 in the MAC.
With the game tied 20-20 with 8:44 remaining, King's used a five-play, 62- yard drive capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Hartramft to Dan Kempa to give the Monarchs a 27-20 lead with 7:09 to play. But Misericordia responded and marched 83 yards on 18 plays to tie the game at 27-27 on a two-yard run by quarterback Jeff Puckett with 0:13 left in regulation.
The teams entered overtime and Misericordia received the first possession. The Cougars took a 34-27 lead on their first possession a second-down 23-yard pass from Puckett to Juwan Petties-Jackson. The Monarchs countered with a third-down 20-yard pass to Dan Kempa to knot the game at 34-34.
King's received the first possession on the next overtime series and went to work on the ground. McGrath picked up 10 and four yards on the Monarchs first two plays before rumbling for an 11-yard touchdown. Kevin Mulvihill connected on the all-important extra point to put King's on top 41-34.
Misericordia looked to respond and used to plays to reach the King's one-yard line. On the next play Tosin Adeyemo scored to bring the score to 41-40. Rather than attempt the game-tying extra-point kick and continue overtime, Cougar coach Mark Ross elected to go for the win and attempted a two-point conversion. With the game on the line, Puckett rolled out to his right and threw a pass to Petties-Jackson, but Struckus broke up the play as the Monarchs swarmed the field to celebrate a hard-fought and much-needed victory.
The game started out well for the Monarchs who raced out to a 13-0 first-quarter lead. On the second possession of the game King's marched 62 yards on 10 plays as McGrath found the end zone from eight yards out to give the Monarchs a 7-0 lead with 6:46 left in the opening stanza.
After forcing a Cougar punt, King's went 67 yards on six plays and scored on a three-yard run by McGrath. The extra-point kick was blocked, however, as the Monarchs led 13-0 with 1:27 remaining in the first quarter.
King's forced another Cougar punt and began to march from the Misericordia 48. King's reached the Cougar 14 and shot itself in the foot with a holding penalty. The Monarchs were unable to pick up a first down and sent Mulvihill into the game to attempt a 28-yard field goal but the kick sailed wide as the Monarch failed to capitalize.
Misericordia used the momentum and strung together a seven-play, 75-yard drive and reached the end zone for the first time when Adeyemo scored from two yards.. But King's Ron Garrett blocked the extra-point as the Cougars drew to within 13-6 with 3:46 left in the first half
King's looked to respond and used a 27 yard pass to Josh Sanders and a 22-yarder to Kempa to bring the Monarchs within scoring position at the Misericordia 16 with 1:44 left in the half. Two plays later King's squandered away another scoring chance when Hartranft's screen pass deflected off the outstretched hands of McGrath and into the arms of Misericordia's Rob Hart to end the drive as the Cougars escaped the first half with nay a 13-6 deficit.
On the opening kickoff of the second half another King's mistake hurt the team when Kempa broke free for a 60-yard kickoff return to the to the Misericordia 25-yard line. But another holding penalty nullified the play and gave the Monarchs possession at its own 17. Unable to drive, King's would punt for the only time in the game.
King's defense then came up with a critical turnover when Nick Kaijala sacked Puckett, forcing a fumble on the play. Garrett scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 39 yards for Monarch touchdown to put the Monarchs ahead 20-6. Remarkably, it marked the third straight game the senior defensive end scored on a defensive return.
Misericordia, however, countered with a big play of their own. After driving to the King's 45, the Cougars faced a fourth-and-one play. Puckett would break free on a read-option play and raced 45 yards to the end zone to bring the score to 20-13 with 6:00 left in the third quarter.
The Monarchs regrouped and again drove the length of the field but again made a major mistake. With a first-and-goal from the Cougar nine, the Monarchs were once again flagged for holding, moving the ball back to the Misericordia 14. After two short runs the Cougars came up with a critical sack and Mulvihill entered the game to attempt a 40-yard field goal. The Cougars would block the attempt as King's again came away with no points.
The Cougars again took advantage of the momentum gained and marched 68 yards on 12 plays and managed to knot the score at 20-20 on a 16-yard pass from Puckett to Colton Pyne with 8:44 left in the contest, setting up the furious game-ending sequence.
Misericordia, which was out gained by King's 228-1124 in total yards as the half, ended the game with a 408-401 lead in total yards. The Monarchs were flagged five critical times for 87 yards in penalties, each seemingly coming at the worst possible time.
McGrath led King's offensively with 151 rushing yards on 29 carries with three touchdowns. Hartranft completed 14-of-24 passes for 225 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Kempa had a monster game for King's, hauling in eight passes for 165 yards and two scores.
Defensively for King's, Jake Ksiazkiewicz had a team-high 15 tackles while Kaijala followed with 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. Anthony Martuccio and Peter Santorelli had nine tackles each while Garrett had eight stops with a fumble return for a touchdown and a blocked extra point.
For Misericordia, Puckett rushed for 175 yards on 26 carries and scored twice while completing 10-of-15 passes for 119 yards and two scores. Petties-Jackson caught eight passes for 98 yards to aid the Cougar attack.
King's will return to action Saturday when the Monarchs host FDU-Florham at 1:00 p.m. at McCarthy Stadium.