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Bucknell Comes Up Short Against Nonleague Hofstra
Bison can’t overcome Pride’s huge first half.
LEWISBURG – Bucknell coach Tim Landis stressed to his players all week that Hofstra, despite its losing record and despite last week’s lopsided loss to the top team in the Football Championship Subdivision, was going to bring a physical style to Lewisburg.
If the Bison didn’t notice in the first half when the Pride torched the turf at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium for 31 points and nearly 350 yards, they certainly got the hint when BU quarterback Marcello Trigg was sprawled on the field following a late hit early in the third quarter.
The nation’s second-most efficient passer was the victim of a personal foul that had him slowly getting to his feet while the Bison tried to claw their way back into the game. While Bucknell used the penalty as a spark to get within seven in the fourth quarter, in the end Hofstra was a little too fast, too big and had too much Brock Jackolski, pulling away late to hand the Bison a 45-31 loss at home.
“It was a wild one, back and forth,” said Landis, whose team finishes its five-game nonconference slate 3-2 before the six-game Patriot League schedule kicks off next weekend at Georgetown. “I can’t question the heart and toughness our guys showed. I told them on Monday that this was going to be a real physical deal. We’ve been in some physical games this season, especially Cornell, but I told them this was going to be different.”
The reason was simple. The Pride (3-3) play in one of the nation’s top FCS conferences, the Colonial Athletic Association, where more than half of its league members are ranked in the top 25. Hofstra was bigger and faster than the Bison all over the field, but it took a couple of big uppercuts to knock the Bison out in the second half.
“In my opinion, if the Colonial isn’t the best conference in the country, it’s certainly in the top two or three,” said Landis. “You can’t look at records and you can’t look at last week (a 56-0 Hofstra loss to No. 1 James Madison).”
Hofstra had a 31-14 lead at the break. After rolling up 345 yards in the first two quarters, the Pride went three-and-out on its first series and the Bison began to claw their way back into the game with the first of three long drives in the second half.
Trigg led the Bison on a 17-play drive that covered 58 yards. The march was aided by the 15-yard personal foul penalty that had Trigg – who left the game in the first half with an ankle injury – on the turf again. The junior from Tampa crawled back to his feet and led Bucknell into field-goal range, where freshman Drew Orth hit a 38-yarder for his first career field goal.
“(The late hit) fired me up and it fired the players up,” said Landis. “Marcello gets knocked around quite a bit and he’s a real tough guy, but that got the guys fired up.”
The defense, which got gashed by freshman Jackolski’s long TD runs of 78 and 31 yards in the first half, responded with another three-and-out and the Bison ran the rest of the third-quarter clock out with another long drive. This time Bucknell covered 88 yards on 10 plays, eating another 4:16 off the clock. Andrew Lair, who entered the game earlier in the drive when Trigg injured his ankle again, barreled in from five yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 31-24.
“The third quarter we went six-and-out, punting both times and then we couldn’t get off the field defensively,” said Hofstra coach Dave Cohen, the brother of Bucknell defensive coordinator Andrew Cohen. “That was a credit to (Bucknell’s) offense. Harold Nichols does a great job and he’s been giving people fits for a long time. He really keeps people off-balance with that.”
Following two punts to start the second half, the Pride returned to offensive form and put the game away. First they steamrolled 68 yards in less than three minutes, with quarterback Cory Christopher capping the drive with a score. Then after A.J. Kizekai was stripped, Christopher hit Phil Riley for a TD pass.
“When we pulled within 31-24, they went on that 70-yard drive and it sort of took the wind out of our sails,” said Landis. “Then we had the turnover and they went up 21. But I can’t sit in that locker room and yell and scream. I’m proud of our guys because they played tough.”
Bucknell comes up short against nonleague Hofstra
By William Bowman, The Sunbury Daily Item (PA)
Photo Credit: Robert Inglis/The Sunbury Daily Item