Saturday, November 13, 2004
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ON PAGE 2 ... CROSS COUNTRY and
ON TO NCAAs
After a season in which the breaks both literal and figurative
all seemed to go the other way, the Muhlenberg football team finally had
everything fall into place on the last day of the regular season.
The Mules (8-2) defeated archrival Moravian, 28-14, and got the results
Narrow three-point wins by Johns Hopkins (against McDaniel) and Dickinson (against Ursinus), combined with Franklin & Marshalls 38-20 victory over Gettysburg, left the CC with an unprecedented five teams tied for the championship. The tiebreaker was strength of schedule, and Muhlenberg edged out Johns Hopkins thanks to a win by Union and a loss by Rochester.
The Mules, who shared their fourth straight CC title, will learn their assignment for the first round of the NCAAs on Sunday at 1:00 on a show broadcast by ESPNews. Team members plan to gather in Moyer Forum to watch the selection show.
The character of the guys on this team is unbelievable, said senior co-captain Frank Santini. All season we have just overcome obstacle after obstacle ... This season has really been a great story and the great part is that its not over yet.
Santini plays tackle on an offensive line that has blocked for five different featured tailbacks this year, due to injuries. Four of the five recorded 100-yard games, with the fifth just missing. The latest member of the club was sophomore Jerome Beverly, who came into the Moravian game with career totals of one carry for three yards but exploded for 111 yards on only 11 carries.
The top-ranked defense in Division III held the Greyhounds (7-3), who came in averaging 428 yards per game, to 194 yards. The defense allowed only six of the 14 points and pressured Moravians quarterback into just nine completions in 31 attempts.
The game started on an auspicious note for the Mules, who began their first drive on the 4-yard line after a 53-yard punt. On third down, Muhlenberg was called for a holding penalty in the end zone, giving Moravian a safety and a 2-0 lead.
The Greyhounds took the ensuing drive to the Mule 27-yard line, but Muhlenberg averted further damage with the first of its five fourth-down stops.
The Mules, by contrast, were 4-for-4 on fourth downs, all leading to first-half touchdowns. With 3:32 left in the first quarter, sophomore tight end Stephen Montalto took a screen pass from Nick Rosetti on fourth-and-4 and rambled 28 yards down the left sideline, diving into the end zone for a touchdown that gave Muhlenberg its first lead at 6-2.
Muhlenberg got the ball right back when senior Brian Hendershot recovered his own
Late in the quarter, sophomore Dustin Martin blocked a punt, giving the Mules possession at the Moravian 20. On fourth-and-1 from the 11, Johnson bulled his way for a first down, and two plays later Rosetti hit sophomore Chris Giannini with a 5-yard touchdown pass to push Muhlenbergs lead to 20-2.
That was all the scoring until a wild sequence produced three scoring plays in the first 19 seconds of the fourth quarter. The Greyhounds started on the Mules 27 following a fumbled punt and reached the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter with the first offensive touchdown allowed by Muhlenberg in 24 quarters.
Senior Ryan Peer blocked the extra-point try, however, and after several exchanges the ball ended up in the hands of freshman defensive back Ryan Merrill, who outran his pursuers into the end zone for the first defensive extra point in Mule history.
Junior Phil Gasker returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to extend Muhlenbergs lead to 28-8. Moravian recovered a fumble in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, following Gaskers interception at the 3-yard line, to close out the scoring.
Peer received the Bianco Award as the Mules game MVP. He tied for a team-high seven tackles and put pressure on the Greyhounds passer and kickers all game long.
Junior Justin Adair intercepted a pass on the final play of the game and tied a school record with his 13th pass breakup of the season. He is part of a secondary that has not allowed a touchdown pass in 238 attempts.
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Last updated November 13, 2004