Raiders Drop Opener Against FBS Opponent Ball State


Starting off the season against high-level competition has become the norm for this Colgate Raiders football squad. While past trips have included flights to Colorado and South Dakota, this year the team traveled to Indiana to take on FBS opponent Ball State. In what will go down as new Head Coach Dan Hunt’s debut, the Raiders fell 30-10 but showed promise against such

tough opposition.

The Raiders showed encouraging signs breaking in sophomore Jake Melville to his first full-year starting role. Between Melville and Coach Hunt, there are many new faces around the locker room, but both hope to fill the big shoes they were brought in to replace. While losing Walter Payton finalist Gavin McCarney will be difficult, Melville provided consistency at the quarterback position, completing over 50 percent of his passes and finishing 14-26 with 137 yards. 

Not only did Melville look poised in the pocket, Melville’s pocket presence kept the Ball State defense

balanced and allowed for junior running backs Demetrius Russell and John Wilkins to average five and four yards per

carry respectively.

On the other side of the ball, the Raiders were able to hold the Cardinals attack as long as possible but late in the first quarter Ball State finally broke through. After a field goal with just six minutes remaining, Ball State tacked on a touchdown with just 1:17 remaining in the first quarter to go up 10-0. 

Another field goal from the Cardinals put the home team up 13-0 and midway through the second quarter, the Raiders knew something needed to be done. On defense, junior cornerback Adam Bridgeforth came up with the big play. After starting in eight games last year, the junior from Pennsylvania took no time making his mark on this season. Bridgeforth’s interception shifted the momentum of the game and under Melville’s tutelage, the Raiders marched down the field 80 yards and junior running back James Travellin punched the ball in from four yards out. 

“We needed someone to make a play to start to shift things back in our favor,” Bridgeforth said of his big play. 

“I was just glad that I was able to be the person to make that play. It paid off and the offense took

control on the next series with a really

impressive drive.”

With the score at 13-7, the Raiders hoped to keep the game close going into halftime, but the Ball State offense had other plans. It took the Cardinals just three minutes and with 45 seconds left on the clock, Ball State added to their lead to head into the locker room with a 20-7 advantage. 

The third quarter started similar to the first with Ball State tacking on a field goal midway through the quarter to extend their lead to 23-7. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Ball State defense remained strong holding the Raiders to just nine first downs on the day and 227 total yards. 

The icing on the cake came late in the third quarter when the Cardinals crafted a 90 yard drive that extended their lead

to 30-7. 

In a mainly uneventful fourth quarter, the Raiders saw their scoring strike come in the form of a 37-yard field goal from sophomore Jonah Bowman. This would not be enough, however, as Ball State cruised to a 30-10

victory on the team’s opening weekend.

While the score indicates the Raiders may have a lot to improve on, a closer look shows positive outlooks all around the team. After a breakout second half of the season, junior tight end John Quazza looked to be a big target in the middle of the field, catching six balls and gaining 92 yards. Quazza seems to be the early favorite to receive a lot of targets from the young quarterback. 

In addition to Quazza, on the defensive side the Raiders saw sophomore cornerback Chris Morgan rack up a game-high 14 tackles in his first start. Morgan’s strong play alongside a secondary that has a lot of veteran experience could turn this Raiders

defense into a force come Patriot

League play.

While the Raiders have a bye week this coming week, they will return to action September 13 as they travel to face FCS powerhouse University of Delaware. “A lot of people think we should be happy with our performance but at the end of the day, we lost a game we could have won. We got a lot of good film and we’re going to build off this performance and try to cut down on the mistakes against Delaware,”

Bridgeforth concluded.