Trampling the Bison: Football Beats Bucknell, 52-28

 

 

Bill Stoklosa

Colgate desperately needed a Patriot League win last Saturday to keep pace with Lafayette and Holy Cross atop the Patriot League standings, and thanks to an impressive offensive effort and some timely turnovers on defense, the Raiders got a much-needed victory. Led by first-year running back Nate Eachus, who eclipsed the 200-yard barrier for the second consecutive game, Colgate got more than halfway to 100 and racked up a 52-28 win on the road against Bucknell.

Colgate got on the board first when senior placekicker Jacob Stein nailed a career-long 40-yard field goal on the first drive of the game. However, Bucknell answered right back when special teams demon A.J. Kizekai ran back the ensuing kickoff 53 yards to set up a Kevin Muller 17-yard touchdown run. It took just 1:37 for Colgate to reply, as a nine yard rush by Nate Eachus gave the Raiders a 10-7 advantage. The score was set up by a 28-yard strike from sophomore quarterback Greg Sullivan to junior wide receiver Pat Simonds. Unfortunately, the Raider defense could not hold the lead, as it took just two plays for Bucknell to march into the end zone. Kizekai broke free for a 58-yard run, setting up an eight-yard pass from quarterback Marcello Trigg to Alex Lair. After the PAT, the Bison held a tenuous 14-10 lead. On the first play of the next drive, Sullivan threw a pass that was picked off at midfield and returned to the Colgate 45. However, all was not lost, as the ‘Gate defense held firm despite the poor field position and forced Bucknell to punt from its own 40.

“That was probably the most important series of the game, up to that point,” Head Coach Dick Biddle said. “It took the wind out of their sails and pumped us up a little bit.”

After Colgate’s offense got the ball back, the Raiders drove 80 yards to take a 17-14 lead. The drive was capped off by an 18-yard rush by first-year running back Jordan McCord. After both teams exchanged punts, Bucknell took over at its own 41. The drive began with two incomplete passes, but Trigg got all 59 yards needed on the next play when he connected with wide receiver Shaun Pasternak to give the Bison a 21-17 lead. Colgate answered right back when Eachus ran in from one yard out to pick up his second score of the contest, but Bucknell still had three minutes left in the half to pick up a score. But Colgate got a huge defensive play right before halftime, as junior cornerback Wayne Moten picked off Trigg and returned the ball to the Colgate 42 with 1:37 left. Colgate’s offensive attackcapitalized on the opportunity and scored on a 14-yard pass from Sullivan to sophomore wide receiver Doug Rosnick with just five seconds left, allowing Colgate to enter halftime with a 31-21 lead.

Thanks to a ball-hungry defense, the Raiders were able to maintain their momentum when they came out of the locker room after the intermission. On the half’s opening possession, first-year safety Vinnie Nicosia recovered his own forced fumble of Bucknell’s Andrew Lair and returned the pigskin 13 yards to the Bucknell 42. Twelve plays and 6:25 later, Colgate scored on the only pass play of the drive, as Sullivan connected with senior fullback Eric Tupta to give the Raiders a 38-21 lead. Colgate struck again early in the fourth, when Sullivan ran in from 12 yards out. Less than three minutes later, Colgate put the final nail in the coffin, as Eachus ran wild for a 48-yard touchdown run that gave Colgate a 52-21 lead. Bucknell got a late touchdown on a Lair rush, but it was nowhere near enough.

For the second straight week, Eachus had a stellar showing. He compiled 214 yards and three scores on the ground, which was good enough to earn himself the Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors for the second straight time. McCord contributed 60 yards and a score on the ground as well, and first-year running back and kick returner Noah Jackson pitched in with 63 rushing yards on seven carries. All told, Colgate had a astonishing 421 rushing yards on the ground. Coach Biddle never had any doubt that his Raiders would continue to run the ball, even in Scott’s absence.

“We weren’t really going to change what we were doing,” Coach Biddle said. “That would have been a mistake, given our talent up front [on the offensive line].”

Sullivan added 79 yards and a touchdown of his own on the ground, and he passed for 101 yards and two more touchdowns. Simonds was once again his favorite target, as he accrued four receptions for 72 yards. After a rough start, the defense turned things around with Moten’s big pick before halftime and Nicosia’s big forced fumble to start the third quarter. Nicosia and first-year linebacker Mike Carbone tied for the team lead in tackles with five.

After Colgate’s big win over Bucknell, the Raiders will play host to No. 21 Lafayette on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Andy Kerr Stadium. With both schools sitting at 2-0 in the Patriot League, the winner will be in the driver’s seat to take the conference crown.