Victory Snatched From Jaws of Defeat

Bill Stoklosa

With eight seconds left on the clock, Colgate football was in prime position to win the game last Sunday. The Raiders were down 19-17, playing at Coastal Carolina and time was ticking away. Senior Jacob Stein was preparing to attempt a 33-yard field goal to win the contest, but junior Austin Douglas’ snap was mishandled by junior holder Ryan Meyers. Colgate’s play-by-play radio announcer declared that Coastal Carolina had won the game at that point, but all of the sudden, everything changed. Facing a torrent of four rushers, Meyers recovered the football, picked it up, evaded the rushers, and threw the ball downfield into the hands of wide-open junior tight end Adrien Schreifer, who ran 16 yards into the end zone for the score. The touchdown gave Colgate a 23-19 victory, and the Raiders went into a frenzy.

While the heroics of Meyers and Schreifer were extraordinary, not to be forgotten is Colgate’s gutsy play on both sides of the ball that put the Raiders in a position to win in the final few seconds of the game.

In the first quarter, Coastal Carolina scored first as they drove the ball down to the Colgate eight before settling for a field goal and a 3-0 lead. Colgate came right back and knotted up the score with a 30-yard field goal from Stein at the start of the second quarter. Later in the quarter, the Chanticleers recovered a fumble by senior running back Jordan Scott at the Colgate 11. Four plays later the Chants were in the end zone when quarterback Zach MacDowall ran the ball in from a yard out. Coastal Carolina missed the extra point however, and only extended its lead to 9-3.

On their next possession, the Chanticleers struck again on a five-yard run by Eric O’Neal. After the PAT the score was 16-3 in the host’s favor. That was it for the scoring in the first half. Colgate faced a substantial deficit going into the locker room, but after three turnovers in the half and a sputtering offense, it could have been much worse if not for the defense.

“I think our defense played extremely well,” Head Coach Dick Biddle said. “Particularly, they kept us in the game in the first half.”

Both defenses held firm in the second half until Coastal Carolina extended its lead to 19-3 on Justin Durham’s second field goal of the afternoon. Finally, Colgate’s offense finally came to life after that score. Scott carried the bulk of the load on a 12-play, 63-yard drive capped off by one-yard run by Scott himself that brought the score to 19-9. Colgate decided to go for two to make it a one-possession game. The Raiders’ first attempt to pass the ball into the end zone was unsuccessful, but they were bailed out by personal foul on the Chanticleers. Colgate made good on its second chance, as sophomore quarterback Greg Sullivan kept it himself and scored to make it 19-11. After that score, the game was delayed for one hour and 51 minutes due to lightning in the area.

On the next Coastal Carolina possession, the ‘Gate defense came up big. After the Chanticleers drove down to the Colgate 25, junior defensive tackle Carlton Walker made a huge tackle of Arthur Sitton in the backfield on a fourth-and-one play to give the ball back to the offense. The Raiders marched down the field again thanks in large part to a 19-yard pass to junior wide receiver Pat Simonds and a 25-yard run by Sullivan. The drive was capped by Sullivan’s six-yard pass to a wide-open Schreifer for a touchdown. With the score now at 19-17, Colgate went for two, but a Jordan Scott rush attempt couldn’t make it over the goal line.

The Raiders decided not to try an onside kick and instead kicked the ball away. Once again the defense came up huge, forcing a three-and-out after a pair of ‘Gate linebackers, junior Greg Hadley and senior Ted Marshall, stopped Racheed Gause for no gain on third- and-one.

After the punt Colgate took over at their own 31 with no timeouts left and 1:44 on the clock. Sullivan threw a 24-yard pass to Simonds, who readjusted and made a spectacular sideline catch that started the drive off the right foot. Later on, mostly thanks to some big runs by Scott and Sullivan, Colgate found themselves at the Coastal Carolina 21-yard line. Scott proceeded to run for eight more yards bringing the ball to the thirteen. With 25 seconds left, Sullivan then tried to spike the ball, but his arm was hit as he tried to spike it. The ball popped out, and Scott jumped on the loose ball at the 16. There was initial confusion over whether it was a fumble or an incomplete pass, and as the clock kept ticking down, Colgate began to run its field goal unit on the field. However, for whatever reason, the clock then stopped. The referees decided to call the play a fumble and reset the clock to eight seconds, but the clock was ordered to start running on the referee’s whistle. Colgate snapped the ball, resulting in the botched field goal and the touchdown pass from Meyers to Schreifer. Though the offense and special teams put up the points, the defense was also crucial to the comeback.

“We were able to get the ball back and control the ball for 11 minutes in the fourth quarter,” Coach Biddle said. “Our defense really stepped it up in the fourth quarter.”

Scott, after missing the opener due to a suspension, had a monster day on offense with 43 carries on 190 yards and a touchdown. It was certainly good to have him back.

“A lot of what we do revolves around what he does,” Coach Biddle said. “He takes the pressure of a lot of other people.”

Sullivan had 110 yards and a score through the air, but more impressively, he amassed 70 yards on the ground. On defense, rookie linebacker Mike Carbone was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week for his team-leading nine tackles. The biggest statistic however, was Coach Biddle moving into first place in career wins at Colgate after picking up his 96th win.

“It feels good,” Coach Biddle said concerning his accomplishment. “I think it speaks highly of every player that’s been here the last 13 years that I’ve been here, and also of all the coaches. They’re the ones that did it all.”

Colgate now sits at 1-1 on the year. The Raiders will play another South Carolina team this week, this time at home, as they take on Furman tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Andy Kerr Stadium.