Raiders Title Hopes Still Alive

The Raider football team could manage only a field goal during the first three quarters of its game against Bucknell last Saturday. As a result, with their Patriot League title hopes on the line, the Raiders trailed by a touchdown entering the fourth quarter.

Behind a gutsy performance by senior quarterback Mike Saraceno, the Raiders found a way to prevail. Saraceno ran for one touchdown and threw for another in the game’s final 15 minutes and Colgate came away with a 16-10 win over the Bison in its last home game of the season.

The Raiders fulfilled their year long theme: another game, another improbable fourth quarter comeback. No big deal.

Saraceno, who played in the game despite suffering a separated shoulder against Lafayette two weeks ago, threw for 181 yards on 19-of-34 passing. He added 30 yards on the ground, including a 27-yard scamper to the end zone that breathed new life into the Raiders.

“Mike’s certainly raised his level of play as the season has gone on,” head coach Dick Biddle said. “He’s become more consistent, he stays the course and the team really believes in him. His two big plays in the fourth quarter won us this game.”

Saraceno’s second big play came with 7:13 left in the contest, when he hooked up with junior wideout Kenny Parker for a seven-yard touchdown. Parker finished the day with a career-high eight catches for 87 yards. In only his first year at the position, Parker has become one of Colgate’s biggest offensive threats.

“People forget that this is his first year playing receiver,” Biddle said. “He’s gotten better every game, and he can be a lot better later on. I think Kenny can be a dominating receiver in this league, and he’s shown that in the last few games.”

The lone Bison touchdown came on Colgate’s first offensive play, when Bucknell’s Dorian Petersen picked off a deflected Saraceno pass and ran it back 32 yards for a score.

The Raider defense forced fumbles on Bucknell’s first four offensive possessions, keeping the Bison from extending their lead. Colgate’s third forced fumble, recovered by senior Jared Nepa, led to a 22-yard field goal by first-year Jacob Stein.

Led by Nepa, Colgate’s defense allowed 225 yards of offense and only three points on the afternoon. The senior captain finished the day with 11 tackles and one forced fumble to go along with his fumble recovery. For his efforts, he was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week for the third time this season.

“I think he’s played as well at linebacker as anyone since I’ve been the head coach,” Biddle said. “The entire defense, in fact, has been outstanding. They’ve played at a high level all season. Four of five wins this year have come down to the last drive, with our defense making a stand to secure the game for us.”

As they has done in nearly every game this season, the Raiders owned the fourth quarter. A nine-play, 70-yard drive – with heavy doses of first-year Jordan Scott running the ball – led to Saraceno’s rushing score at the 13:03 mark.

After the defense held the Bison to negative-four yards on their next possession, the Raider offense reeled off another nine-play drive, ending in Parker’s score.

On Bucknell’s final possession, senior cornerback Chris Williams drilled Bucknell’s Dante Ross on fourth down, dropping him well short of the first-down marker.

When the Raiders travel to Washington, D.C. tomorrow to take on Georgetown, they will have the chance to claim a share of the Patriot League crown with a win. No one would have thought that a few months ago.

Colgate beat up on the Hoyas when the two teams met last year, winning 33-0 at Andy Kerr Stadium. The Raiders, however, have a lot top play for this week.

“They’re a pretty talented team,” Biddle said. “They always play us tough, so we won’t be taking them lightly.

“It would be a great achievement to be co-champs. We didn’t start the season well, but we’ve come on strong. We’d be very happy with a share of the league title.