Football Shuts Out Moravian to Finish Second

Saturday, November 12, 2011 - page 2

Kenneth Cobb (left) and Patrick McDonough (right)
Cobb (left) forced two fumbles, including this one in the first quarter, which was recovered by McDonough (right).
The seniors on the Muhlenberg football team would have had a tough time trying to script a better way to close out their careers.

The Mules saved their best performance for last, dominating their Lehigh Valley rival Moravian in almost every phase of the game for a 28-0 win on a picturesque, sunny autumn afternoon at Scotty Wood Stadium.

It was Muhlenberg’s fourth shutout in the past 10 meetings with Moravian and clinched a second-place finish in the Centennial Conference. The win, coupled with cross country’s split at the regional meet, gives the Mules a 5-3 lead in the Matte Award standings.

“I’m really proud of the way the season ended up,” senior Victor Taiwo said. “It didn’t go quite as we had expected, but we still came up big against our rival. Getting the shutout was a big deal to use on the defense. This was a great way to end my career.”

After going three-and-out on its first two drives, Muhlenberg’s offense woke up late in the first quarter. The Mules (7-3, 7-2) drove 81 yards on 10 plays and took a 7-0 lead when sophomore Joe Carlucci hit junior Marcus Toomey in the back left corner of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown with less than two minutes to play in the opening quarter.

Terrence Dandridge
Dandridge moved into fourth place on the school’s career rushing list with 2,314 yards. He also ranks ninth in career all-purpose yards (2,755).
And with the way the defense played, that would prove to be all the Mules would need. On Moravian’s sixth play of the second quarter, senior Chris Hartzell picked off a Greyhound pass in stride and went 34 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to stretch the lead to 14-0.

Four drives later, the Greyhounds (2-8, 2-7) appeared to have responded with a pick six of their own, but an illegal block in the back penalty nullified the touchdown. Moravian still had the ball deep in Mule territory. But the defense responded, thanks to some help from a holding penalty that pushed the Greyhounds out of field goal range, to force a turnover on downs to keep it a two-score game at the half.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Mule offense turned some great field position into a pair of touchdowns to put the game away.

Muhlenberg’s punt block unit got pressure on the Moravian punter less than two minutes into the fourth quarter and forced a five-yard kick to the Greyhound 42-yard line.

Junior Terrence Dandridge rushed for 12 yards on the first play of the drive, and classmate Dan Deighan hit junior John Gruver on a 30-yard scoring strike in the middle of the end zone to stretch the lead to 21-0.

Deighan and Carlucci are the first pair of Mule quarterbacks to each throw a touchdown pass in the same game since 2005.

On Moravian’s next offensive play, a high snap flew over the quarterback’s head, and Mule senior Matt Musick pounced on it to set the offense up at the Greyhound 10.

Muhlenberg almost had to settle for a field goal attempt following an incompletion on third down, but Moravian was called for a roughing the passer penalty, which gave the Mules a first down at the 3. Dandridge ran it in on the next play to make it 28-0.

Chris Hartzell
Hartzell’s touchdown was the second of his career; both came against Moravian. He blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown in the 2008 game in Bethlehem.
He finished with a game-high 126 yards on 22 carries to earn the Bianco Award, which is given to Muhlenberg’s MVP of the game.

Junior J.T. Merklinger added 52 yards on seven carries despite missing most of the second half because of an injury to help the Mules amass 238 yards on the ground, almost 100 more than the Greyhounds had allowed on average entering the game.

“We just imposed our will out there,” senior offensive lineman Scott Barton said. “We know they have two of the best defensive linemen in the conference, but we were determined to get T.D. some space, no matter what it took.

“Moravian has given us two of the worst losses since I’ve been here, so to be able to even it up 2-2 and do it in impressive fashion is such a great feeling.”

Senior Patrick McDonough led the defense with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. He ranks third on the school’s career tackles list with 333 stops.

Classmate Kenneth Cobb added six stops with 1.5 sacks, while Taiwo finished with 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

The Mules outgained Moravian 320-139, allowing just 12 total yards in the fourth quarter. The 139 yards was the fewest gained by a Mule opponent in the last 35 games. Muhlenberg also owned a more than eight minute advantage in time of possession, which according to Cobb just reinforced their domination.

“I think this was a pretty impressive win,” Cobb said. “They’re a tough football team, so to be able to win the way we did and shut them out was a big deal. Walking off the field with the scoreboard showing 28-0 was such a great feeling, and I think we definitely went out with a bang.”
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