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Muhlenberg College

Saturday, October 27, 2007

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Cross country, Field hockey, Volleyball

football comes back to keep streak alive

After a night and morning of torrential rain, the skies above Scotty Wood Stadium cleared up just in time for the start of the nationally ranked Muhlenberg football team’s important game against Dickinson.

It would be a little while longer before the sun starting shining on the Mules.

Muhlenberg climbed out of an early
David Mazzola
Mazzola had an adventurous day, both bad and good. A punt of his was blocked to set up the second Dickinson touchdown, and a low snap to him on a punt attempt resulted in a fumble that the Red Devils turned into their fourth-quarter TD. But he also picked off the Dickinson quarterback (who came into the game with one interception all season), completed a 20-yard pass on a fake punt and boomed a punt 53 yards to the 5-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
17-0 hole to remain undefeated with a 29-24 win. The victory was the ninth in a row for the Mules (8-0, 6-0) dating back to last season, tying a 59-year-old school record, and set up a showdown at second-place Ursinus for the Centennial Conference championship next Saturday.

Junior Eric Santagato threw a career-high four touchdown passes, including the go-ahead 29-yarder to senior Matt Johnson with 3:27 left in the fourth quarter, to lead Muhlenberg back in front of an overflow Family Weekend crowd.

The Red Devils (6-2, 4-2) jumped out to a 17-0 lead on a Muhlenberg defense that came in ranked in the top five in Division III in four categories and hadn’t been scored on in 10 quarters. Two short touchdown runs and a 24-yard field goal put the Mules in their biggest deficit of the season less than four minutes into the second quarter.

Muhlenberg began its comeback when a Dickinson player accidentally touched a bouncing punt, giving the Mules possession at the Red Devil 12. Senior Jordon Grube kicked a 24-yard field goal with 7:21 on the clock to put Muhlenberg on the board.

Held without a first down up to that point, the Mules drove 92 yards in nine plays to score their first touchdown. Santagato found Johnson, who broke a tackle at the 10-yard line, with a 20-yard scoring pass to cut the margin to 17-9 with 2:44 left in the half.

Three plays after the kickoff, junior David Mazzola returned an interception 35 yards to the Red Devil 20. On the next play, Santagato hit sophomore Phil Cresta in the corner of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown with 1:51 on the clock, and suddenly the Mules were within a point.

Early in the third quarter, Muhlenberg had a chance to take the lead with a short field goal, but instead decided to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Dickinson 9. Junior Erik Snyder caught a pass coming across the field and ran into the end zone to give the Mules their first lead, 23-17.

After the Red Devils went back ahead on a rushing touchdown with 7:05 to play, Snyder returned the ensuing kickoff to the 42. Muhlenberg gained only 3 yards on the next three plays, but on fourth down, Mazzola completed a 20-yard pass to Cresta on a fake punt for a first down at the Dickinson 35. Three plays later, the Mules again faced fourth down, and this time Santagato hit Johnson along the left sideline, and the tight end slipped a tackle en route to his second touchdown of the game.

The Red Devils drove to the Muhlenberg 36 on the next possession, but with 2:07 left an early snap hit the quarterback in the helmet, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by junior linebacker Matt Rathbun. The Mules took all but 11.5 seconds off the clock, and Dickinson could run only two desperation plays before time expired.

The victory kept Muhlenberg as one of 12 remaining undefeated teams in Division III.

Click here for box score.

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