Geyer, Van Laar, Defense Lead Football to Win at Gettysburg

Saturday, October 19, 2013
 

Volleyball Cross country, soccer, golf

Pitching and defense is the mantra for Major League Baseball teams pursuing a championship this time of the year. For the Muhlenberg football team, it’s punt returning and defense.

Ian Gimbar, Jeremey Thomas
Gimbar and junior Jeremey Thomas (eight tackles) combined on this tackle for loss in the final minute of the third quarter.
For the second game in a row, junior Cody Geyer turned the tide with a long punt return, and the Mule defense allowed only 11 first downs and recorded six sacks in a 35-10 win at Gettysburg.

Senior Kevin Van Laar rushed for a career-high 124 yards and three touchdowns as Muhlenberg (4-2, 3-2) won at Gettysburg for the first time since 2007.

The game was tied 7-7 midway through the second quarter, with the teams having traded touchdown passes. (The Mules’ came on a 14-yard toss from freshman Nick Palladino to junior Michael Long.) Gettysburg (3-3, 2-3) was forced to punt after the defense made a stop on third-and-2, and Geyer brought the kick back 73 yards for a touchdown to put Muhlenberg ahead for good.

The touchdown was the first on a punt return (not a blocked punt return) for the Mules since 2003, and it was the longest scoring punt return since 1982. It was not the longest return of Geyer’s career, however: In Muhlenberg’s last game, his momentum-shifting return covered 82 yards although it ended short of the end zone.

The Bullets closed to within 14-10 with a field goal on their first possession of the third quarter, and after that the Mules turned the game over to their defense and Van Laar.

Kevin Van Laar
Van Laar follows the blocks of Joe Hogh (36) and Jeff Oliemuller (64) to score the first of his three touchdowns.
Gettysburg went three-and-out on its next four possessions, and on all of them the Bullets had seven yards or more to go on third down.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said junior Ian Gimbar of facing third-and-long. “As a defense, that’s the best feeling when you know they have to make long plays. You can just lay things on the line and get after it.”

The defense held Gettysburg, which came in averaging more than 500 yards per game, to only 295, including just 83 in the second half. Junior Greg DeLade had 2½ sacks among his 3½ tackles for loss, and senior Andrew Onimus made a team-high 13 tackles, including two for loss.

It helped the defense that it wasn’t on the field much in the second half. The offense held the ball for 21:17 of the last 30 minutes, putting the game out of reach with three 2-yard touchdown runs by Van Laar.

It was a welcome change for the Muhlenberg offense, which had scored a total of 30 points in its last four games at Gettysburg.

“Our last trip here was not the best,” said senior Chris Litzenberger, who caught a career-high six passes. “You always have to hear about it for the next two years, and the coaches always bring it up. It feels great to end my career with a win at Gettysburg.”
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