Football Team Travels to Annapolis for Season Opener

Senior tight end John Quazza reels in the Raiders only touchdown in their loss at Annapolis.

Senior tight end John Quazza reels in the Raiders’ only touchdown in their loss at Annapolis.

The Colgate football team suffered a tough defeat this past Saturday as they fell to the Navy Midshipmen 48-10. Navy scored early and often on a banged-up Colgate defense, as they jumped out to a 31-3 halftime lead. Navy’s triple option attack gave Colgate all it could handle as Navy’s dual threat quarterback Keenan Reynolds was able to fool the Raiders most of the afternoon. 

Colgate got off to a quick start when senior linebacker Kyle Diener forced a Chris Swain fumble that was recovered by junior defensive back Keyon Washington. Colgate was able to advance the ball inside the five-yard line of the Midshipmen, but a holding penally forced the Raiders to settle for a 24-yard field goal from junior kicker Jonah Bowman to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Navy answered right back with a nine play drive that ended in a Austin Grebe 27-yard field goal. Unfortunately, the Raiders offense sputtered from there, as they were forced to punt three times in the first half while also having a turn over on downs when senior tailback Demetrius Russell was stuffed on a fourth and one at the 50-yard line.

Despite the early fumble, Navy fullback Chris Swain was able to have his way on the ground against the Raiders defense. Swain rushed for 126 yards on 11 carries, highlighted by a 52-yard touchdown run to give the Midshipmen their first lead of the game late in the first quarter. Colgate also looked to run the ball early and often with the running back trio of junior John Wilkins, sophomore James Holland and the aforementioned Russell. The three Raiders, however, did manage to gain 139 yards on their 35 combined carries.

The Raiders were able to put six on the board early in the fourth quarter when junior quarterback Jake Melville connected with senior tight end John Quazza for a 24-yard touchdown. Hopefully this connection is a sight of things to come, as the offensive duo will be a major key to the success of Colgate as they seek their first Patriot League title under head coach Dan Hunt and their first since 2012.

More concerning for the Raiders was the loss of senior cornerback Adam Bridgeforth. Bridgeforth appeared to injure his leg in the first quarter of the game as he went for a tackle near the Midshipmen bench. He was carted off the field but later emerged from the locker room on crutches. Defensive back Chris Morgan was also injured in the contest as he came back from halftime dressed in street clothes. At this time, it is unclear of the severity of each players’ injuries and whether they will be able to play in the team’s home opener against the University of New Hampshire this Saturday at Andy Kerr Stadium at 6 p.m.

Hunt was able to make light of the team’s injuries by emphasizing the importance of the experience gained by some players who were not expected to have a significant impact this season. 

“It is what it is and sometimes injuries happen. We have the mentality that it’s the next man up. A lot of kids got experience today, which is only going to help us down the road,” Hunt said. Colgate will look to build and hopefully get healthier as the season is still in its very early stages.

Colgate football will need to channel its experiences from last season in order to bring meaning to a tough early season loss. Last year, the Raiders opened with a 30-10 defeat at Ball State but went on to finish third in the Patriot League. Diener, who is one of the team’s emotional leaders on the field, emphasized the importance of hard work and determination moving forward.

“We can’t rely on talent. We have to step up and make things happen, and we didn’t do that today,” Diener said. Surely going forward, the Raiders must execute better in order to reach their full potential.