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Cougars face defending MAC champions


October 19. 2013 2:38AM
DAVE ROSENGRANT drosengrant@timesleader.com



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Two weeks ago, Misericordia walked off the field after a heartbreaking, double-overtime loss to King’s still winless in 15 games in program history.


Today, the Cougars (0-5 overall, 0-4 MAC) get back to work searching for that elusive victory against the defending MAC champions, Widener (3-2, 3-1).


The Pride are a much different team than the one that went on a run to the NCAA quarterfinals last season. The reigns at quarterback have been handed over from a veteran in Chris Haupt to freshman Seth Klein. The Pride also changed coaches as Isaac Collins took a Division II job at Seton Hill and Bobby Acosta took over.


But the scheme remains the same as the squad is a pass-heavy offense led by Klein, who has shown some expected hiccups as a freshman, but overall has been great passing for a MAC-high 1,403 yards and seven touchdowns. It helps that the rookie has an experienced receiver in Anthony Davis to target.


Davis is putting up astounding numbers himself on pace to get 100 receptions with 50 through five games; the MAC record for receptions in a season is 101. Davis also has a league-high 563 yards with four touchdowns.


That might sound like a tall task to overcome for the Cougars, who are allowing 226.8 yards per game in the air, the third-most in the MAC.


On the other side of the ball, Widener will have its hands full trying to stop Misericordia’s top-ranked rushing offense, which is putting up 304.8 yards per game led by quarterback Jeff Puckett, who leads the MAC in rushing with 750 yards while running a no-huddle read-option offense. Widener is only giving up 116.6 yards per game on the ground, but that may be because most teams are trying to catch up and throw the ball more often. Only five other teams in the MAC are allowing less rushing attempts per game than the Pride.


Widener is also allowing the most passing yards per game in the MAC at 255.2. That bodes well for Misericordia, which has been getting wideout Juwan Petties-Jackson involved in the offense more the last few games. In his last two games, he’s had touchdown receptions of 43 and 40 yards against Wilkes and King’s, respectively, after not having a touchdown in the team’s first three games.


Misericordia (0-5, 0-4 MAC) at Widener (3-2, 3-1)


When: 1 p.m. today at Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium, Chester


Last Week: Both teams had a bye last week. On Oct. 5, the Pride defeated Stevenson 31-10, while the Cougars dropped a double-overtime decision, 41-40 to King’s.


Last meeting: The only time the teams met, Widener won 67-0 in 2012.


Misericordia player to watch: Sophomore running back Tosin Adeyamo, who picked up 55 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the game against King’s. He will likely be depended on to compliment the running of quarterback Jeff Puckett.


Widener player to watch: Freshman quarterback Seth Klein, who has been great at home this season with 87 completions in two games for 708 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception.


Cougars’ team leaders: RB Frank Santarsiero 271 yards, 1 TD; QB Jeff Puckett 750 rushing yards (leads MAC), 9 TD (leads MAC), 353 passing yards, 4 TD, 2 interceptions; WR Juwan Petties-Jackson 18 receptions, 208 yards, 2 TD; LB Rob Hart 38 tackles; LB Ben Camacho 2 interceptions; NT Ben Muschlitz 2 sacks.


Pride’s team leaders: RB Chris Wickes 206 yards, TD; QB Seth Klein 1,403 yards, 7 TD, 5 interceptions; WR Anthony Davis 50 receptions (leads MAC), 563 yards (leads MAC), 4 TD; LB Brandon Harper 42 tackles; DE Stacey Sunnerville 9 sacks (leads MAC); DB Colin Masterson 2 interceptions.


Misericordia will win if: The offense can sustain long drives to keep the ball away from the Pride’s potent offense and register scores at the end of those possessions.


Widener will win if: The fourth-ranked rush defense in the MAC, which allows just 116.6 yards on the ground per game, can contain Misericordia’s top-ranked rush offense, which averages 304.8 yards per game.


What to know: The Pride have won 15 straight games at home, a school record.




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