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Muhlenberg College

Saturday, September 22, 2007

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Men’s golf, Men’s soccer, Women’s tennis, Volleyball

blocked field goal preserves football win

Big games often come down to big plays. Two big plays – on the first and last snaps taken by Gettysburg in the second half – were the difference as the Muhlenberg football team remained undefeated with a 14-13 win.

The Mules (3-0) not only won their Centennial Conference opener for
Chris Swensen
The block was the second of Swensen’s career. He also blocked a field goal at Johns Hopkins last year.
the first time since 2002, but they also snapped the Bullets’ nine-game home winning streak and won a one-point game on the road for the first time since 1985.

The game wasn’t decided until the final minute, when Gettysburg’s kicker lined up to attempt a potential game-winning field goal from 33 yards with 34.5 seconds left. Junior defensive end Chris Swensen broke up the middle and blocked the kick, preserving the win.

“I was inches away from blocking an extra point and a field goal [earlier in the game],” said Swensen. “Me, Mike Nolan and Billy Moates got a good push, and I blocked it with my helmet.”

The game was billed as a showdown between the best offense (Gettysburg) and the best defense (Muhlenberg) in the CC, but it was the Bullet defense that owned the first half. The Mules managed just four first downs and as many rushing yards in the first 30 minutes.

Gettysburg’s offense was held in check for most of the first half, too. Late in the half, following a short punt and 12-yard return, the Bullets needed only four plays to drive 27 yards for a touchdown.

The seven points were the first allowed by Muhlenberg
John DeLuca
DeLuca, who went over the 1,000-yard mark last week, is 18th in team history with 1,167 career rushing yards.
all season and ended the Mules’ unscored-upon streak at 163:03. Gettysburg (2-2, 1-1) added a field goal with 1:26 left to send Muhlenberg into the locker room down 10-0.

Sophomore safety Dan Aitkens provided the Mules the spark they needed early in the second half. On the Bullets’ first play from scrimmage, Aitkens batted a screen pass up into the air, came down with the ball and returned it to the Gettysburg 13. Two plays later, sophomore Phil Cresta took a screen pass from junior Eric Santagato and turned it into a 9-yard touchdown, putting Muhlenberg on the board.

Consecutive runs of 18 and 7 yards by junior John DeLuca later in the third quarter set up the go-ahead touchdown, a 2-yard run by Santagato. The score came the play after junior Joe Caporoso was tackled in the end zone on third down for a pass interference penalty.

Gettysburg closed to within a point with a field goal early in the fourth quarter.

The Mules took over at their own 33 with 4:08 remaining and appeared to be in good shape to run out the clock when senior Matt Johnson caught a quick slant and broke tackles for a 33-yard gain. But Muhlenberg fumbled the next snap and the Bullets recovered, then ran for 12, 30 and 12 yards on the next three plays to get in position for the field-goal try.

Muhlenberg hadn’t overcome a 10-point halftime deficit to win since 1984, when it trailed Ursinus 17-0 at the break but rallied to win, 27-17.

DeLuca finished with 87 tough yards on 27 carries. Junior Matt Rathbun led the Mule defense – which held the Bullets more than 200 yards below their season average of 454.0 – with eight tackles, two for loss. Senior Dustin Good made three tackles for loss and forced a fumble, and Aitkens added two tackles for loss to his game-turning interception.

“We knew they were going to make plays; we didn’t expect to win by shutout,” said Swensen. “We gave up a big run at the end, but we didn’t put our heads down. We worked too hard to give up.”
Click here for box score.

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