DALLAS TWP. — The Misericordia University football program continued to show signs of improvement, but the outcome remained the same in its 31-14 loss to Lebanon Valley at Mangelsdorf Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars (0-6 MAC, 0-7 overall) scored first with a 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Jeff Puckett to take the 7-0 lead, but the Dutchmen (5-1, 6-1), who are on a five game winning streak answered back with a touchdown run by sophomore running back Austin Hartman to tie the game at 7-7.
Lebanon Valley increased its lead with a Sean Fakete field goal and another Hartman run to make it 17-7, but Puckett would hit sophomore Juwan Petties-Jackson for a 31-yard touchdown to tighten the score at 17-14 right before halftime.
Two more Hartman scores in the second half would do it as the Dutchmen earned the 31-14 win.
Misericordia showed improvements on defense in the passing game containing Lebanon Valley junior quarterback Brian Murphy to only 12 yards passing on one completion off five attempts and picking him off twice.
Murphy entered the game having 10 touchdowns and 1,128 yards passing on the season.
“It’s a case of guys being disciplined in their assignment,” said Misericordia head coach Mark Ross. “I talked to them about that before the game that you gotta play your one-eleventh. If you leave your wingman good things aren’t gonna happen so do what your job is. I thought (sophomore cornerback) Phil (Arnold) did that, was able to make a play. (Sophomore cornerback) Kevin (Bagasevich) certainly did it and was able to go make a play so that’s a positive.”
As impressive as the Cougars’ defense was through the air the running defense struggled heavily, surrendering 443 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including 228 by Hartman and 154 by Brendan Irving.
“They’re big and physical,” said Ross. “They certainly came out and were kind of attacking the one side of our defense so we tried to shore that up with a few fronts and different things there. We gotta tackle better, I think that’s gonna come as we mature physically, get stronger and do all those things.”
On the offensive side of the ball the passing game was used more with Puckett going 10 of 18 for 112 yards and one touchdown, marking the second week in a row and the second time this season he has had more passing yards than rushing yards. He finished the day with 79 yards rushing on 17 carries.
“It’s been coming the last few weeks,” Ross said about his passing game. “Their defense is difficult to run the ball against so you gotta throw and try your best to keep them off balance. They make it very hard to do some things and if you don’t stay balanced it’s gonna be a long afternoon.”
Ross made a notion that this year, while the Cougars are still winless, they are far more competitive than they were their first season last year.
“As we go year to year we gotta work at recruiting and developing these guys,” said Ross. “Last year we weren’t competitive past halftime, now we’re into games against the best this league has to offer in the fourth quarter. I just told them we did a lot of good things, we told them at halftime we need to create some turnovers. We did that. Two interceptions on defense, a fumble on special teams, now we just gotta make some plays when we get those turnovers.”
Lebanon Valley 31, Misericordia 14
MIS — Jeff Puckett 1 run (Patrick Newins kick), 9:34
LV — Austin Hartman 1 run (Sean Fakete kick), 4:57
LV — Fakete 25 field goal, 13:00
LV — Hartman 16 run (Fakete kick), 5:32
MIS — Juwan Petties-Jackson 31 pass from Puckett (Newins Kick), 4:25
LV — Hartman 2 run (Fakete kick), 14:53
LV — Hartman 3 run (Fakete kick), 6:07
RUSHING — LV, Austin Hartman 31-28, Brendan Irving 20-154, Matt Richmond 3-24, Brian Murphy 2-17, Evan Fink 2-12, Brendan Kain 4-8. MIS, Jeff Puckett 17-79, Frank Santarsiero 8-61, Ryan Kurtz 3-19, Robin Custodio 3-11.
PASSING — LV, Brian Murphy 1-5-2-12. MIS, Jeff Puckett 10-18-0-112
RECEIVING — LV, Jake Ziegler 1-12. MIS, Juwan Petties-Jackson 5-67, Kurt Kowalski 3-27, Thomas Stelzer 1-13, Colton Pyne 1-5.
INTERCEPTIONS — MIS, Kevin Bagasevich 1-0, Phil Arnold 1-0.
MISSED FGs — none