Misericordia football gets first win
Misericordia University head football coach Mark Ross, an Athens graduate, has been using the golf analogy all season that if you continue to get putts close to the hole, one of them will eventually fall.
The Cougars got a putt to drop as they wrapped up their second season with a 63-40 win at FDU-Florham.
"I told our guys all season that if we kept putting ourselves in position to win, that our day would come," said Ross. "I am so proud of this team and our coaching staff. They earned this win."
The Cougars jumped out to a quick 14-0 led in the first two minutes and never trailed.
After taking a 42-34 lead into the locker room, the MU defense limited FDU-Florham to just six points in the second half.
Sophomore quarterback Jeff Puckett and senior running back Frank Santarsiero combined for nine touchdowns and nearly 400 yards on the ground.
Puckett had 159 yards and scored six times while Santarsiero had 222 yards and three touchdowns.
Misericordia took the opening kickoff and went 54 yards in just four plays to take a 7-0 lead. Chris Kirkland took the kick back to the MU 46 and Puckett hit Tyler Rowe for 11 yards into FDU territory.
Santarsiero broke free for 39 yards to the FDU four yard line and Puckett went in for the score on the next play less than a minute into the game.
A holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff put the Devils deep in their own end and Cory Dickerson intercepted FDU's first play to give MU the ball on the seven.
Puckett scored on first down and the Cougars led 14-0 with just 1:16 gone.
The Devils answered with a touchdown on their next possession and the Cougars responded with two more TD's.
Santarsiero went for 24 yards to move MU into FDU territory and after a six-yard reception by Kirkland, Santarsiero picked up seven yards and went 30 yards for a touchdown and a 21-6 lead.
After forcing an FDU punt from deep in their own territory, Kirkland returned the kick to the FDU 32 yard line. Colton Pyne's 18-yard catch moved it to the 14 and Puckett eventually scored from 16 yards out for a 28-6 lead with 7:11 left in the opening quarter.
FDU closed the first quarter with a 64-yard drive and after taking over on downs, went 80 yards in nine plays to get within 28-20 early in the second period.
Kurt Kowalski, Juwan Petties-Jackson and Rowe all had receptions on the ensuing drive and Puckett capped it a 13-yard scoring run for a 35-20 lead with 9:30 to go before halftime.
The Devils came back with a 10-play, 74-yard scoring march to cut the deficit to 35-27 with 5:19 remaining in the first half.
After another solid kick return by Kirkland, Petties-Jackson had an eight-yard catch for a first down near midfield.
Petties-Jackson hauled in a 39-yard pass on the next play to the FDU 14 and Puckett eventually scooted in from six yards out and a 42-27 lead with 2:16 to go before intermission.
FDU went 65 yards in just 1:34 to make it 42-34 with under a minute to play.
The two teams exchanged punts for the first time to start the third quarter and the Devils put together a 70-yard, 12-play scoring drive, but their two-point conversion attempt failed and Misericordia kept a 42-40 lead.
A 37-yard run by Puckett put the Cougars in FDU territory, but the Devils forced a fumble on the next play and took over on their own 38.
MU got the ball right back when Isaiah Harvey intercepted an FDU pass on the next play and the Cougars took over on their own 40.
Santarsiero and Puckett did most of the work on the ground on the ensuing drive with Santarsiero scampering in for the score from seven yards out and a 49-40 lead with 2:30 to play in the third quarter.
FDU moved 60 yards deep into MU territory on its next possession, the drive stalled at the 16 yard line when Austin Deinarowicz batted down a fourth down pass attempt.
Robin Custodio picked up 19 yards on the first plays of the drive and Santarsiero and Puckett did the rest with Puckett finishing off an 84-yard scoring drive with a four-yard run for a 56-40 lead with 7:07 to play.
Tim Martin's interception gave the Cougars the ball at their own 44 and Santarsiero carried eight times, including a 19-yard TD, to put MU ahead 63-40 with 2:23 remaining.
The Cougars had 408 yards on the ground and Puckett added 155 yards through the air, including 99 yards by Petties-Jackson.
Kirkland had 132 yards on eight kick returns and Patrick Newins was a perfect 9-for-9 on extra points.
Phil Arnold and Hunter Pates shared the team lead with eight tackles each and Rob Hart, Omar Clark and Steve Strobel all had six stops.
Misericordia finished its second season at 1-9 overall and 1-8 in the MAC