Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy Muhlenberg Athletics

For the second year in a row, a fantastic championship season by the Muhlenberg football team ended with a loss to Wesley in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wolverines broke a scoreless tie with two touchdowns in the final 2:49 of the first half and went on to defeat Muhlenberg, 20-0, to advance to a second-round matchup with Mary Hardin-Baylor, a 38-35 winner against Hardin-Simmons. The Mules end their season with a 9-2 record.

The result ended Muhlenberg’s 13-game home winning streak and snapped its school-record streak of 116 games without being shut out. The Mules were last blanked by Hartwick in 1998.

Neither team could muster much offense for most of the first half. Muhlenberg had a good scoring opportunity early in the second quarter on a drive kept alive by junior Codie Bender’s 27-yard run on a fake punt from the Mule 38. The Mules had first-and-goal from the 9, but a second-down pass into the end zone was dropped, and a 26-yard field goal attempt drifted wide left.

Wesley drove back down the field and had a second-and-1 at the Muhlenberg 4, but lost a yard on the next two plays. On fourth down, Collin Blugis missed a 22-yard field goal.

The Wolverines finally broke through after taking over at their own 41 with 3:32 left, and they needed only three plays. A pass interference penalty followed by consecutive 22-yard runs put the first points on the scoreboard.

Muhlenberg’s next drive was halted when Eric Santagato was stopped a yard short of a first down at the Wesley 32 with 39 seconds left. The Wolverines drove to the Mule 42, got pushed back by a penalty, and scored on the final play of the half on a Hail Mary pass on fourth down from the 45.

The Wolverines extended their lead to 20-0 early in the second half, needing only four plays after the Mules lost a fumble.

Muhlenberg drove to the Wesley 27 on its last possession but could not put any points on the board.

Santagato threw for 129 yards and ran for a team-leading 61 in his last game. Senior William Moates and sophomore Mark Accomando tied for the team lead with eight tackles apiece.