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Bucknell off to best start in 10 years
On a day the 2010-11 Bucknell men’s basketball team received their Patriot League championship rings, the Bison football team proved they are worthy of a bit of the spotlight with a 35-18 Patriot League-opening win over Georgetown on a rainy Saturday.
The Bison (4-1, 1-0 Patriot League), a year after winning just one game, have won four of their first five games for the first time since 2001 and face a big showdown next week at home against defending league champion Lehigh.
“We’re going to celebrate this for now, but then we have to go to work,” said running back Tyler Smith. “We’ll be back at 11 a.m. (Sunday) morning and we’ll be ready to work. All eyes are on Lehigh right now.”
More wins and all eyes will be on the Bison.
The Bucknell offense, which has scored 69 points in the last two weeks and reached 30 or more points in back-to-back weeks for the first time since 2006, received 100 rushing yards from Smith and 100 yards receiving from Frank DeNick.
Smith finished with new career-highs of 114 rushing yards and 24 carries against the league’s No. 1 and the nation’s No. 5 rush defense. DeNick caught four passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
Brandon Wesley threw for an even 200 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first Bison quarterback since Todd Wenrich in 2002 with three touchdown passes in a game.
Perhaps the most telling statistic to illustrate Bucknell’s offensive effectiveness was 9 of 17 on third downs, including 8 of 10 in the first half.
Smith converted four of those on Bucknell’s second scoring drive, two on receptions, where he had to work his way to the sticks, and another two rushing. The final third-down conversion resulted in a 3-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 Bucknell lead.
“Coach (offensive coordinator Bryan Bossard) always says that great backs get the first down,” said Smith, “and that is the mentality I have on third down.”
As the Bucknell offense extended drives, the Bison defense watched and rested from the sidelines and forced a three and out on Georgetown’s next possession.
Four plays later, Bucknell had a 21-0 lead after Wesley connected with DeNick on a 36-yard strike.
A 41-yard Wesley pass to Victory Walker made it 28-0 late in the second quarter, but a long kickoff return and quick scoring strike that ended with a Jamal Davis 19-yard catch from Isaiah Kempf allowed the Hoyas to finish the half with a little momentum.
It carried over to the second half as the Hoyas scored the next 11 points to close to 28-18 after Kenny Furlough fought off three Bucknell defenders on a jump ball in the center of the end zone for a 4-yard reception from Kempf with 8:34 still remaining in the third quarter.
“Coach emphasizes not to look at the scoreboard until the end of the game and to just keep playing and work as hard as you can,” said senior defensive tackle Robert De La Rosa. “We stayed true to that and we believe in that fully. We just kept pushing and we weren’t paying attention to the scoreboard. We did feel the momentum shift, but it just made us work that much harder to get it back.”
“It’s a place we haven’t been, yet, (with a large lead) and sometimes when you do that and once momentum shifts it’s hard to get it back,” said Bucknell coach Joe Susan. “Fortunately, our defense geared it up.”
Following the third quarter, Bucknell quickly took advantage of the wind with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Wesley to DeNick on another post pattern against single coverage for a 35-18 lead.
“That was extremely important,” said Smith. “Once we got that we got the momentum swung back on our side.”
Back up three scores, Bucknell’s defense feasted on the Hoyas’ offense, intercepting a pair of passes, forcing a punt and a turnover on downs in Georgetown’s final four possessions.
No one feasted more than De La Rosa. The senior defensive tackle manhandled Georgetown’s offensive line, which averages 317 pounds, and finished with 6 1/2 tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble.
Bucknell’s rush defense, which entered the game ranked ninth nationally, limited Georgetown to minus-3 yards rushing and allowed just 221 total yards.
Georgetown0 7 1 10-18
Bucknell 7 2 10 7-35
Buck-Wesley 1 run (Orth kick), 11:19.
Buck-Ty.Smith 3 run (Orth kick), 14:15.
Buck-DeNick 36 pass from Wesley (Orth kick), 10:08.
Buck-Walker 41 pass from Wesley (Orth kick), :53.
Geo-Davis 19 pass from Kempf (Weiss kick), :27.
Geo-FG Weiss 24, 13:35.
Geo-Furlough 4 pass from Kempf (Logan pass from Kempf), 8:12.
Buck-DeNick 55 pass from Wesley (Orth kick), 14:50.
Time of Possession22:0537:55
RUSHING-Georgetown, Campanella 7-11, Claytor 3-7, Durham 1-2, Logan 2-2, Kempf 4-(minus 6), Darby 5-(minus 19). Bucknell, Ty.Smith 24-114, Young 7-28, Wesley 12-8, Friend 3-6, Team 4-(minus 4).
PASSING-Georgetown, Kempf 24-41-2-211, Darby 3-4-0-13. Bucknell, Wesley 11-19-1-200.
RECEIVING-Georgetown, Davis 10-102, Waizenegger 5-24, Macari 3-33, Claytor 3-13, Ryan 2-30, Furlough 2-13, Stafford 1-6, Burke 1-3. Bucknell, Ty.Smith 5-29, DeNick 4-114, Walker 1-41, Skwara 1-16.
By JAKE FELIX, Williamsport Sun-Gazette