It was a memorable afternoon at Scotty Wood Stadium on the first football Saturday in Allentown, PA.
Led by sophomores Michael Hnatkowsky and James Diggs, the Mules won against conference rival Dickinson by a narrow score of 14-3. While the team had a successful day on both sides of the ball, it was the defense that was especially a bright spot, allowing a lone field goal as the Red Devil’s only points of the contest.
The starting quarterback, Michael Hnatkowsky, completed 15 passes on 32 attempts, for 199 yards in the air. He was happy with how the team played in this game, and despite the low scoring offense, is excited for what this season holds.
“Our defense played really well on Saturday and kept us in the game. On offense we came out slow but as the game went on we started to get into a good rhythm. Our goals for this year is to win the conference. As for our offense we are looking forward to get into a rhythm and start to play mules offense. This means we are balanced and we are willing to do what we want whether it’s running or passing the ball,” said Hnatkowsky.
The only touchdown on the day for the Mules came by Mark Riggio ‘20, who ran the ball 14 times for 51 yards and 1 score. However, the team leader in rushing yards in the game was James Diggs ‘21. Despite his stellar performance in the game, he emphasized that his number one priority for the football season is team wins, and that takes precedence over any individual accolades.
“Our goals are simple and will always remain the same. We want to win. No matter what it takes, no matter how we get it, no matter when it comes. We just want to win every single football game that we play and if we perform to our capabilities we can do just that…I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am leading the Mules at the running back position. We have so many talented guys on our team that we constantly compete each and every day which makes us all better, so my own successes are really a product of the work my teammates and myself put in. Without them, I definitely wouldn’t be half the player that I am now,” said Diggs.
Clearly, Diggs has a team-first mentality, which will be instrumental for the Mules moving forward over the course of this season. As for this past Saturday’s game itself, Diggs was proud of his teammates for rallying together and putting across just enough points to come out with the eventual victory.
“The thing that I was most proud of was the way we rallied in the second half and overcame a lackluster first half,” he said. “Especially offensively. We weren’t firing on all cylinders in the first two quarters, but we were able to make some halftime adjustments and go out in the second half and execute, so I was very pleased with the way we played in the second half.”
Next week takes the Mules to Selinsgrove, PA. for a matchup with a Susquehanna team that just defeated highly-favored Johns Hopkins. Although a tough contest awaits, the Mules are happy to have started off the season with a win, one that occurred under their new head coach.
“I feel like the win was essential in boosting out moral as a team,” said Diggs. “With Coach Milne starting of the season as the head coach for the first time it felt like it was our obligation to win. Plus it’s always better to start your season off with a win, so I felt it was a must-win game for us.”