Off to a hot start to the season, the Muhlenberg football team is flying through the fall semester, going undefeated in their first seven games. The squad traveled to Maryland to take on a 3-3 McDaniel team on Saturday, Oct. 26.
The 2 p.m. matchup started quickly, with James Diggs ‘21 scoring a touchdown with 12 minutes left in the first quarter.
Starting the second quarter up 28-7, the offense continued to dominate, holding McDaniel to one touchdown, their lone touchdown of the game.
The Mules earned two big touchdowns in the third quarter to put them up 42-7, one on a 24-yard run from Nick DeLucas ‘20 and a seven yard touchdown pass to Mitch Daniel ‘21.
The game ended with a 49-7 victory for the Mules, marking their fourth consecutive game with 40 or more points.
They left McDaniel with another huge win, but individual Mules left with milestones as well, changing the way they view their team history.
Over the course of the past four games, the men have outscored opponents 185-39. With their impeccable defense, they have been able to hold opponents for the fourth consecutive road game to only single digit points, a feat that hasn’t happened since 1939.
For Ryan Curtiss ‘20, this game was a personal milestone, breaking the Centennial Conference record for receiving yards by a tight end.
Leading into the last play of the game, Ethan Brader ‘23 threw a 93-yard touchdown, two yards short of tying the record for the longest pass in Muhlenberg football history.
Quarterback Michael Hnatkowsky ‘21 completed 18 throws, throwing 273 yards and three touchdowns.
While his offense performance was top notch, Hnatkowsky credits his defense for their contribution.
“Our defense was lights out, giving us great field position, and we were able to hit on a few big plays early, then sustain drives when we needed to. In every game there are adjustments; yesterday was just finding what plays we like in both the run and pass game and [executing] them.” stated Hnatkowsky.
Practicing is something that Hnatkowsky credits towards the team’s win. “This week’s area of focus was to try and play a complete football game for 60 minutes. That has been our focus all year, and yesterday we were able to accomplish this goal,” Hnatkowsky said.
Going into Saturday’s game against the Green Terror, the team knew that they needed to be prepared, especially when getting ready to play a tough defensive line.
Scoring one of the Mules’ touchdowns, wide receiver Daniel understood that McDaniel was a game they needed to fight to win. “We knew McDaniel had a tough defense, so heading into the game, we wanted to match that toughness, and I think we did a good job with that. We had guys flying around on defense and the offense was clicking. Like every week, the coaching staff just wanted us to focus on doing our job instead of worrying about the opponent. That is a theme for us week in and week out, which is why we have been so successful,” said Daniel.
Offensive guard Samuel Rothstein ‘21 agrees, commending the team’s practices as a main part of their continued success. “The main focus for the week leading up to McDaniel was to play this game as intensely as we have every other game so far this season,” Rothstein said. “Our mindset going into the game was that this is the only one that matters because it is the next. This keeps the team grounded and focused on what is immediately ahead. There wasn’t a specific part of the game that we honed in on; rather, we practice every week to improve all aspects of our game: offense, defense and special teams,” he added.
While this game resulted in many milestones and brought a huge victory for the squad, the result was made possible by a contribution from everybody on the team.
“I think one of the best parts of the game was that so many guys were able to get playing time,” Rothstein noted. “Three quarterbacks played, four different running backs, over 10 offensive lineman and the list goes on. Having guys get game time who typically don’t is great because it prepares them for later in the season and their careers. It is also incredibly rewarding to see hard work pay off, like watching freshman quarterback Ethan Brader throw his first college touchdown,” he continued.
The men look to play a tough game against Johns Hopkins at the Scotty Wood Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 2 p.m.
Getting ready for this game, Rothstein is confident in the guys players. “Being comfortable and confident in your skills allows you to be able to be more aggressive and make big plays, like pancaking defensive players,” said Rothstein. “All in all, I am incredibly proud of our team’s performance and look forward to improving even more for our game Nov. 2 at home against Johns Hopkins University.”