Blocked PAT Dooms Football in Season Opener

Saturday, September 3, 2011 - page 2

In a game dominated by defense, special teams proved to be the difference as the Muhlenberg football team dropped its season opener in an overtime slugfest at Delaware Valley.

After senior MJ Rus hauled in a 22-yard touchdown catch on the Mules' possession to start the extra period, the Aggies broke through and blocked the extra point.

Chris Hartzell
Hartzell's 52-yard interception return was Muhlenberg's longest since 2007.
On the ensuing possession, Muhlenberg's defense, which had turned away DelVal twice in the red zone during regulation, forced three straight incompletions, which combined with a five-yard penalty, put the Aggies in a fourth-and-15 situation with the game on the line.

But DelVal connected on a 30-yard scoring strike and converted the extra point to pull out the win, 10-9.

Despite allowing 322 yards of offense, only 77 of which came on the ground, and being on the field for more than 35 minutes of game time, the Mule defense stiffened whenever the Aggies threatened to score.

MJ Rus
Rus' scoring grab was the first touchdown of his Mule career.
DelVal (1-0) botched the snap on a 29-yard field goal attempt early in the second half, and two drives later senior Chris Hartzell picked off a pass at the goal line less than three minutes before halftime to keep the Aggies off the board.

Following Hartzell's interception, the Mule offense drove to the Aggie 3-yard line with less than a minute to play in the half. But after three straight stops and with no timeouts remaining, Muhlenberg (0-1) had to rush to get the field goal unit onto the field.

Senior Gregg Mercogliano, attempting the first field goal of his career, did not appear fazed by the situation and nailed the kick as the first-half buzzer sounded to give Muhlenberg a three-point lead at the break.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Aggies once again drove to Muhlenberg's 1-yard line on their first drive of the final quarter. But back-to-back goal-line stops by senior Patrick McDonough forced DelVal to settle for a game-tying field goal.

McDonough led the Mule defense with 14 tackles and a sack, while classmate Andy Curley added 11 stops in his first game back after missing most of last season because of injury.

"This is a tough game, especially when it comes down to the last play," said senior nose tackle Mark Mounayar, who finished with a career-high eight tackles and a forced fumble. "Someone has to win, and someone has to lose. Unfortunately things didn't go our way today, but we battled. We know we just need to keep playing hard, and good things will happen."
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