Football Pulls Off Miraculous Fourth-Quarter Comeback

Saturday, September 17, 2011
 

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The cover of the 2011 Muhlenberg Reunion/Homecoming brochure urges alumni to Come Home! But for the first three quarters of the Homecoming football game against McDaniel, it was more like Come On!

Then the unexpected and unthinkable

J.T. Merklinger
Merklinger, here scoring the game-winning touchdown, reached the end zone twice for the second week in a row.
happened. Down by 19 points and getting thoroughly outplayed entering the fourth quarter, the Mules scored 27 points in the final 13 minutes to stun McDaniel, 34-26.

Junior Dan Deighan threw for 226 of his career-high 282 yards in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 40-yard touchdown passes.

The Green Terror (1-2, 1-1) led 26-7 five minutes into the second quarter, and the score remained that way with the Mules (2-1, 2-0) facing a third-and-5 at their own 15 to start the fourth.

Two long completions by Deighan, one for 26 yards to junior Marcus Toomey

Zach Klein
Klein made the first three receptions of his career in the fourth quarter. One went for 13 yards on second-and-10, one went for a 40-yard touchdown, and the third was good for a 34-yard gain.
on a fake punt, set up a 3-yard touchdown run by junior J.T. Merklinger with 13:03 on the clock.

The Mules recovered the ensuing onside kick, with sophomore Andrew Onimus catching Gregg Mercogliano’s popped up kick, but they were stopped on downs at the McDaniel 32.

The defense held the Green Terror to three plays, however, and after getting the ball back Deighan connected with junior Zach Klein for a 40-yard touchdown on third-and-17, bringing Muhlenberg to within 26-21 with 7:19 to play.

On the ensuing series, McDaniel faced a fourth-and-1 on its own 41 with less than five minutes remaining. The Green Terror tried a fake punt, but freshman Ian Gimbar stuffed the ball-carrier for a 1-yard loss – the Mules’ third big special teams play of the quarter.

On the very next play, Deighan hit Merklinger streaking down the left sideline for the go-ahead touchdown. Deighan ran in the two-point conversion to make it 29-26 with 4:26 to play.

The Mules later added a safety (when a high snap by McDaniel rolled into the end zone) and a 27-yard field goal by Mercogliano.

Needing a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie, the

Kory Crichton
In addition to his game-ending interception, Crichton recorded nine tackles, including this sack.
Green Terror advanced to the Muhlenberg 41 on its last possession, but a Hail Mary pass was intercepted in the end zone by sophomore Kory Crichton as time expired.

McDaniel built an early 13-0 lead by scoring five plays after the opening kickoff and recovering a blocked punt in the end zone.

Junior Terrence Dandridge rushed a career-best 69 yards for a score to get the Mules on the board on the first play from scrimmage after the blocked punt. It was the third touchdown in the game’s first five minutes.

McDaniel added a pair of short touchdown runs to extend its lead to 19. But the defense settled down after the rough start, allowing just 76 yards in the second half, with 45 of them coming on the final desperation drive.

Senior Patrick McDonough led the defense with 12 tackles, with Gimbar making nine in his first career start and senior Kenneth Cobb recording 2½ tackles for loss.

Dandridge, who received the Weikert Award as Muhlenberg’s sophomore athlete of the year at halftime, rushed for a game-high 132 yards on 17 carries. He moved into fifth place on the Mules’ all-time list with 1,842 yards.
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.