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Muhlenberg College

Saturday, November 14, 2009

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It may have been a rebuilding year for both the Muhlenberg and Moravian football teams, but a win in a rivalry game to close out the season can turn a disappointing season into a memorable one.

The Mules (3-7, 2-6) did just that at Scotty Wood Stadium, defeating their Lehigh Valley rivals 7-0 in a defensive battle.

“This was the season for us,” said senior Jake Floyd. “Getting a win today makes the whole season feel worth it and definitely makes it a success.”

The defense was the key to success against the Greyhounds (2-8, 2-6). Muhlenberg held Moravian to just 39 yards on the ground and 146 yards of total offense. The Mules recorded nine sacks, five more than their next highest total in a game all season. Junior Andy Curley had 2.5 of those sacks to go along with seven tackles en route to earning the Bianco Award as Muhlenberg’s Most Valuable Player of the game.

“We had the quarterback running for his life,” said Floyd. “We didn’t let them get comfortable back there and that set the tone and let us do what we wanted.”

Chris Hartzell
Hartzell had one of Muhlenberg’s two interceptions. Senior Cameron Ahouse had the other, picking off a pass for the second straight week.
The lone score of the game was set up by the Mule special teams, as sophomore Steve Nissley returned a punt 28 yards to the Moravian 19 early in the second quarter. After four consecutive running plays, freshman Dan Deighan dropped back and found sophomore Steve Liparini for a 6-yard score at the 8:12 mark.

Though the offense didn’t put up any more points, it didn’t turn the ball over for the first time in a game this season and won the possession battle by controlling the ball for 32:38.

“Offensively we did a great job,” said senior Phil Cresta. “With our defense, we knew if we just held on to the football we would win, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Moravian crossed over into Muhlenberg territory on just two drives all game. Late in the first half the Greyhounds were nearing midfield, but sacks by Curley on consecutive plays ended any chance for a late score before halftime.

Midway through the third Moravian got as deep as the Mule 23, but the defense came up with a huge stop on fourth-and-7 to end the threat.

A Muhlenberg field goal try with 10:10 to play in the game hit the right upright, preventing the Mules from taking a two-possession lead. But the defense didn’t need it. Sophomore Chris Hartzell intercepted a pass with 2:46 to play, and on Moravian’s final drive seniors Jeremiah Lachaud and Frank Emmett recorded sacks – Emmett’s coming on fourth-and-12 – to seal the victory.

The win brought an end to the collegiate careers of 19 seniors, a class that played a major part in Muhlenberg’s first undefeated season in school history in 2007 and a return trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2008.

“It meant a lot to win for the seniors,” said sophomore Phil Musick. “They knew we were rebuilding this year, but they stayed patient with us and taught us a lot. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Liparini led the Mules on offense with five catches for 56 yards and the lone touchdown. Junior Patrick McDonough led all tacklers with nine, and sophomore Michael Kellum contributed two sacks.

Cresta finished with three catches on the day, giving him 62 for the season, tied for the second-most in a single season in Muhlenberg history. He finishes his career third all-time at Muhlenberg in career receptions (161) and receiving yards (2, 631).
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.

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