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Muhlenberg College

Saturday, November 3, 2007

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Men’s soccer, Field hockey

football says “no” to “co-”;
whips ursinus for centennial title

John Holenda
Senior John Holenda recorded three tackles for loss, including one of the Mules’ six sacks.
Dropping two little letters can make a big difference.

After six previous Centennial Conference co-championships, the Muhlenberg football team claimed its first outright title with a 31-7 win at Ursinus. The Mules (9-0, 7-0) have a two-game lead with one to play and can become the first CC team to go through a league season undefeated since 2000 by beating Moravian next Saturday.

The win at Ursinus also clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for Muhlenberg, its fourth. NCAA pairings will be announced next Sunday.

“It feels great to win the conference,” said junior John DeLuca. “This team is so close, and we worked so hard for this the last three years.”

The Mules, who entered the game ranked 12th in the Division III coaches poll, set school records with their 10th straight win overall and sixth consecutive road win, both dating back to last year.

Matt Smith
Johnson wasn’t the only Mule tight end to contribute to the offense. Junior Matt Smith caught two passes for 17 yards.
Playing against the only other team with a chance to win the CC title, the Mules outgained the Bears, 405-96, taking command with two first-quarter touchdowns. Ursinus, the preseason favorite to win the championship, is ninth in the NCAA regional rankings.

DeLuca and senior Matt Johnson each scored two touchdowns, and their magic numbers were 25 and 57. DeLuca scored on runs from those distances and Johnson caught TD passes of those lengths from junior Eric Santagato.

DeLuca finished
Matt Rathbun
Junior Matt Rathbun holds up the ball after recovering a fumble in the second quarter. It was the school-record-tying seventh fumble recovery of his career.
with 144 yards on 28 carries, putting him over 1,000 yards for the season. Ursinus (7-2, 5-2) came in allowing only 107.2 rushing yards per game.

Johnson caught eight passes for a career-high 116 yards, scoring two touchdowns for the second week in a row. He tied a school record for touchdowns by a tight end (five) and became the first tight end in team history with more than 500 receiving yards in a season.

After DeLuca’s 25-yard scoring run with 3:49 left in the first quarter, senior Jordon Grube recovered his own onside kick. Two plays later, Johnson caught a short pass and broke a tackle en route to a 57-yard score, giving Muhlenberg a 14-0 lead.

Grube added a field goal with five seconds left in the first half, extending the margin to 17-0.

The Bears used a long kickoff return and fake field goal to score their lone touchown on a 1-yard sneak early in the second half.

Muhlenberg put the game out of reach with two quick third-quarter drives. DeLuca’s 57-yard run came on the second play after a punt, and Johnson’s 25-yard score capped a three-play drive following a short punt.

Santagato was 18-for-27 for 188 yards and two touchdowns against a unit that was third in Division III in pass efficiency defense. The Mule defense, which came in second in that category, lived up to its rankings, allowing only 69 passing yards in 17 attempts and 27 yards on 24 rushes. Ursinus had only one play longer than 14 yards.
Click here for box score.

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