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Next step is moving past Devils


February 19. 2013 2:11PM


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Misericordia showed much progress from its first game in school history in early September until two weeks ago when the team held a lead against Wilkes.


After last week's bye, the Cougars were hit hard again, losing by 70 points to Delaware Valley.


But that's not an indication that the team has taken a step backward. Delaware Valley always seems to be a national power, is the four-time defending MAC champion with a great chance to make it five in a row.


Cougars coach Mark Ross said that game was a learning experience for his young team and when they watched the film, they took many positives and saw what they have to do to compete with the best in the conference.


They saw themselves have success against the best. There was not near enough consistent success to be competitive but they realized if they could do it one play, then they should be able to do it every play, Ross said. We saw players competing the entire 60 minutes... In several instances, Delaware Valley was simply bigger, faster, stronger than we were. As our kids mature and develop physically, we should be able to change that.


The Cougars are out to prove that last week's result wasn't a step in the wrong direction and look to use that game's lesson today when they host FDU-Florham at 1 p.m. at Mangelsdorf Field.


On paper, today's contest could favor the Cougars in many ways as they look to notch that first victory in school history.


While opponents appear to be scoring at will against both teams -- they are the last two teams in defensive categories in the MAC -- the Cougars have been more consistent than the Devils all over the field.


Look at turnover margin, where FDU is by far worst in the MAC at minus-8. Misericordia meanwhile is minus-1 and only committed eight turnovers all season.


The Cougars have been possessing the ball longer than their opponents, averaging 32:03 of time with the ball per game, which is second in the conference. So it seems like it's just a matter of time before more results are seen.


Also in Misericordia's favor is the FDU rushing offense, which is last in the conference. The Cougars have allowed several backs to go over 100 yards this season, but FDU has had problems with its rushing attack.


Where the Devils are at their best is passing, which is where Misericordia defense has had the most success, with the fifth-best passing defense in the MAC.


I think it is important that we keep their quarterback contained and squeeze the pocket, Ross said. Certainly they pose a challenge to our secondary but I believe our team will be ready for that challenge.


UP NEXT


FDU-Florham 1-6, 1-5 MAC)
at Misericordia (0-7, 0-6)



When: 1 p.m. today at Mangelsdorf Field, Dallas



Last week: The Devils were defeated by Lebanon Valley 41-14, while Misericordia lost to Delaware Valley 70-0.



About the Cougars: Four different players have scored a touchdown for the team with Juwan Petties-Jackson and Dean Lucchesi leading the way with two apiece.



About the Devils: They have the worst turnover margin (plus-8) and rushing offense (108.7 yards per game) in the MAC.



Misericordia will win if its pass defense continues to play well minimizing the big plays and the rush defense keeps the Devils in check like other teams have done all season.



FDU will win if it can break through the Cougars' defensive line and linebackers while running the ball and chalk up points that way.



Cougars Team Leaders



Passing: Jeff Puckett 71-of-132, 595 yards, 4 TDs, 6 ints.



Rushing: Cody Lamoreaux 316 yards



Receiving: Paul Brace 22 receptions, 223 yards



Defense: Michael Comerford 42 tackles; three players with 1 sack; three players with 1 int.



Devils Team Leaders



Passing: Mike Santos 99-of-170, 1,147 yards, 9 TDs, 6 ints.



Rushing: Craig Kimbrough 223 yards



Receiving: Anthony Fruncillo 28 receptions, 426 yards, 1 TD



Defense: Mike Mancino 86 tackles; Kevin Daly 2 sacks; Mickey Weiks 2 ints.





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