There’s no question that Misericordia is improving. Just look at the numbers from last year’s inaugural season and compare them to this year’s. The differences are what seems like a million times better than the 2012 season.
The Cougars have played two of the toughest teams they will face this season and while both were losses, they gave Gettysburg and No. 21-ranked Delaware Valley fits.
Today at 1 p.m. when the Cougars (0-2, 0-1 MAC) take a bus ride on Route 118 to Williamsport to face Lycoming in their first road game of the season, they will face another test in looking for that elusive first victory in school history.
The Warriors (1-1, 1-0) are coming off a victory against Wilkes a week after scoring just two points in a loss to Brockport. They had the third-best total defense in the country last season and were 14th in scoring defense. Lycoming’s defense isn’t that impressive yet in 2013, but has allowed just three points in the first half in each of its first two games.
Another glaring stat by the Warriors run defense is that just two times in the last three seasons has an opposing running back gone over 100 yards. And both times it was by the same Brockport back.
Misericordia presents another challenge to Warriors.
Quarterback Jeff Puckett leads the MAC in rushing yards with 460 and six touchdowns in just two games as the no-huddle, option offense has been rolling. The Cougars have also been racking up the plays and yardage.
In two games, they have run 185 plays for 1,076 yards, an average of 5.8 yards per play, and 57 points. In 2012 after the first two weeks, Misericordia posted just 127 plays for 397 yards and scored just seven points.
Now, it’s just a matter of putting up those numbers against one of the top defenses in the country.
Misericordia (0-2, 0-1 MAC) at Lycoming (1-1, 1-0)
When: 1 p.m. today at David Person Field, Williamsport
Last Week: The Cougars are coming off a 42-17 loss to Delaware Valley, while Lycoming defeated Wilkes 34-18.
Last meeting:The only matchup between the schools was a 38-0 victory for the Warriors at the end of last season.
Misericordia player to watch: Quarterback Jeff Puckett, who leads the MAC in rushing and scoring with 460 yards on the ground and six TDs.
Lycoming player to watch: Middle linebacker Kabongo Bukasa, who is the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year, missed the Warriors’ first game of the season. He returned last week and registered five tackles in a win.
Cougars’ team leaders: QB Jeff Puckett 460 rushing yards, 6TDs, 119 passing yards, TD; RB Frank Santarsiero 168 yards, 1 TD; WR Juwan Petties-Jackson 5 rec., 32 yards; DB Ben Camacho 19 tackles, 1 int.; LB Rob Hart, DT Ben Muschlitz 1 sack.
Warriors team leaders: RB Craig Needhammer 216 yards, TD; QB Tyler Jenny 449 yards, 3TD, 2int.; WR Matt Atkinson 15 rec., 170 yards, 2 TD; LB Tyler Denike 18 tackles; DT Braden Zeiner 2 sacks; DB Tanner Troutman, Mike Ciotti, C.J. Arhontakis 1 int.
Misericordia will win if: Lycoming quarterback Tyler Jenny is held in check by the Cougars defense. Last week, Jenny went 20 of 21 for 305 yards and three touchdowns against Wilkes.
Lycoming will win if: It can slow down Misericordia’s rushing offense, which is averaging 478.5 yards per game.
What to know: Last week, Misericordia faced 25th-ranked Delaware Valley. This afternoon they get a crack at an unranked team in the d3football.com poll, but was picked to win the MAC in the league’s preseason poll.