DALLAS TWP. —The crowd was roaring at Mangelsdorf Field, tasting the first victory in Misericordia University history.
But King’s College’s Tyler Struckus quickly quieted the raucous fan base. The sophomore defensive back jumped in front of a pass on a two-point conversion attempt intended for Misericordia’s Juwan Petties-Jackson, knocked it down and helped the Monarchs knock off the Cougars in double overtime, 41-40.
“We were man (coverage) and knew they were going to throw. It’s just adversity and face it, man up,” said Struckus, who allowed two passes of 20-plus yards to Petties-Jackson prior to the big break-up. “I was like ‘ya know what, I’ve had enough. I’m going to make this play.’”
The decision to go for the win — or the loss — on a two-point conversion by Misericordia coach Mark Ross was made prior to overtime beginning. He even thought about going for two after a touchdown near the end of regulation that forced overtime.
“Once that first overtime ended and I knew we were going on defense then I told them ‘we’re not playing beyond this overtime. We are going for two,’” Ross said. “If we started the first overtime on D I might have did it right then and there…If we go to a third (overtime) you have to go for two anyway so why not. You got a shot. You make that shot you win. If you don’t, OK, you didn’t win but we took our best shot.”
Misericordia (0-5, 0-4 MAC) forced the extra periods by coming back from a 13-point, third quarter deficit - eventually getting a game-tying drive on its last possession of regulation. Quarterback Jeff Puckett orchestrated a 19-play, 84-yard march that took nearly 7 minutes off the clock and was capped by a 2-yard QB dive for the score to even the score at 27-27 with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
That got the near-capacity crowd in Dallas Township fired up as the first overtime session began and the Cougars took a 34-27 lead when Puckett hooked up with Petties-Jackson for a 23-yard scoring strike, the noise level getting even louder.
But the Monarchs (1-3, 1-2) silenced the fans by tying the score to force the second OT, then took a 41-34 lead on tailback Kyle McGrath’s third touchdown run. This time, an 11-yard sprint to the end zone by McGrath gave King’s the lead for good.
McGrath, who has been playing with a broken left hand he injured in Week 1, piled up 151 yards on 29 carries.
“We’ve never been in overtime here. I don’t care if we won by one point, it feels awesome. A win’s a win,” McGrath said. “I can play with it (the injury) and just help my team win.”
While the fourth quarter and overtime periods were dominated by the offenses, the first half and the first part of the third quarter were defensive showdowns. The highlight was a 39-yard fumble recovery touchdown by King’s fifth-year senior defensive end Ron Garrett. It was the third time in as many weeks that Garrett has recorded a touchdown.
“I have to find a way to get that into the record books because I don’t think there’s ever been a defensive tackle to score three consecutive touchdowns like the way he has in three weeks, so that’s pretty amazing,” King’s coach Jeff Knarr said. “He made a play when we needed it.”
Misericordia’s defense also made plays. With the Monarchs driving in Cougar territory right before halftime and looking to extend a 13-6 lead, Ryan Hart picked off a pass from Tyler Hartranft to keep the score within reach. Early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars got momentum off a blocked field goal. They turned that into a 12-play, 68-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 20-20 with 8:44 left.
King’s regained the lead on its next drive, going ahead 27-20 on a 27-yard pass from Hartranft to Dan Kempa (8 receptions, 165 yards).
Petties-Jackson had one of the best games of his collegiate career for the Cougars, hauling in eight receptions for 98 yards. Puckett had another strong game all around, piling up a game-high 175 rushing yards and two scores, while throwing for 119 and two more TDs.
And after consecutive close games against rivals, the Cougars’ first win could be even closer.
“If you got a shot to win at the end then you put yourself in the right position,” Ross added. “You’re not going to knock every 20-footer in golf but if you’re around the cup every time they’re going to start to fall eventually.”
In addition to McGrath having a gutsy effort, King’s receiver Dan Kempa continued to excel offensively for the team. The junior wideout, who entered the game as the MAC’s leading receiver and was fifth in the country in receiving yards per game averaging 128.3, added to those numbers by catching eight passes for 165 yards and a pair of scores.
King’s 41, Misericordia 40 (2 OT)
KING’S — McGrath 8 run (Mulvihill kick) 6:46
KING’S — McGrath 3 run (kick blocked) 1:27
MIS — Adeyamo 2 run (kick blocked) 3:47
KING’S — Garrett 39 fumble recovery (Mulvihill kick) 10:17
MIS —Puckett 45 run (Newins kick) 6:00
MIS — Pyne 16 pass from Puckett (Newins kick) 8:44
KING’S — Kempa 27 pass from Hartranft (Mulvihill kick) 7:09
MIS —Puckett 2 run (Newins kick) :13
MIS —Petties-Jackson 23 pass from Puckett (Newins kick)
KING’S — Kempa 20 pass from Hartranft (Mulvihill kick)
KING’S — McGrath 11 run (Mulvihill kick)
MIS — Adeyamo 1 run (pass failed)
RUSHING — KING’S, Kyle McGrath 29-151, Judens Goimbert 8-32, Dan Kempa 1-3, Tyler Hartranft 4-(minus-10). MISERICORDIA, Jeff Puckett 26-175, Tosin Adeyama 13-55, Frank Santarsiero 11-35, Ryan Kurtz 2-4, Robin Custodio 3-0, TEAM 1-(minus-1).
PASSING — KING’S, Tyler Hartranft 14-24-1-225. MISERICORDIA, Jeff Puckett 10-15-0-119, Ryan Kurtz 2-2-0-21.
RECEIVING — KING’S, Dan Kempa 8-165, Judens Goimbert 3-25, Josh Sanders 1-27, Vince Albano 1-5, Brian Atkinson 1-3. MISERICORDIA, Juwan Petties-Jackson 8-98, Colton Pyne 2-30, Vince Grausso 1-9, Kurt Kowalski 1-3.
INTERCEPTIONS — MISERICORDIA, Ryan Hart 1-0
MISSED FGs — KING’S, Mulvihill (28, WL), (40, blocked)