Raiders Fall to Bison, Remain in Patriot League Race

Spencer Serling

The Raiders battled the Bucknell Bison at Andy Kerr Stadium this past weekend. After keeping the contest close in the first half, the Raiders (3-6) fell to the Bison (4-4) 28-7. While the loss hurts the Raiders’ chances at a Patriot League title, the Raiders are not completely out of the race.The Raiders were held to a season-low 194 yards of offense on the day. In addition to losing senior quarterback Gavin McCarney for part of the second quarter with his ongoing injuries, the Raiders lost senior wide receiver Dan Cason for the season. All this and a stifling Bison defense held the Raiders offensive efforts at bay.

After an opening Raiders drive that got stalled around midfield, the Bison got the ball and went down the field kicking a field goal on their opening drive to grab the early 3-0 lead. After another Raiders three-and-out, the Bison got the ball and found their way into Raiders territory before they were forced to punt.

Pinned deep on their own seven-yard line early in the second quarter, the Raiders knew they needed to gather some offensive momentum. McCarney found junior tight end Kevin O’Connell for a first down but had to leave the game after the play due to injuries. First-year Jake Melville assumed the quarterback role but could not get the Raiders offense going and the Raiders punted the ball to the Bison.

Bucknell immediately took advantage of the great field position at midfield and scored with just over six minutes remaining in the half to go up 10-0. With McCarney returning to the quarterback position, the Raiders got some of their momentum back and scored. McCarney found O’Connell from 35 yards out for the tight end’s second touchdown of the season. With the Bison lead cut to 10-7, the Raiders had some newfound hope.

The Bison got the ball back but after two big defensive stops from the defensive line in senior Austin Dier and junior Kris Kent, the Raiders got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining. McCarney was able to pick up some first downs through the air but the Raiders offense ran out of time just outside the red zone and were unable to put points on the board.

The Raiders came up with the big break they needed as the second half began. After the Bison drove down the field, they missed a key field goal and gave the Raiders the ball back with good field position. On the Raiders first play from scrimmage, however, sophomore running back Demetrius Russell fumbled the ball and the Bison recovered. Russell, who has had a strong season, struggled against a tough Bison defense, only rushing for 27 yards on 10 carries.

The Bison capitalized on the Raiders turnover and this time made their field goal to go up 13-7. The Raiders found themselves facing a third and long on their next drive, but the 12 yard completion to Russell was not enough and the Raiders had to punt the ball back to the Bison, who stormed down the field and scored a touchdown.

After making their two-point conversion, the Bison led the Raiders 21-7 early in the fourth quarter. With a struggling Raiders

offense, a comeback was not meant to be. McCarney threw an interception on the Raiders first play from scrimmage on the next drive and the Bison quickly scored extending their lead to 28-7. The Raiders defense held strong and did not allow the Bison very much offense the rest of the game, but the Raiders could not break through the tough Bison defense.

Dropping the contest 28-7, the Raiders are immediately looking ahead to next week with their League title hopes in the balance. The Raiders will take on the Lafayette Leopards, and with a victory, will stay alive in the race to defend their title. The big storyline going into next week will be to see if the Raiders can get their mojo back on offense. “Coach Biddle has already told us that it starts with practice,” O’Connell said. “If we can practice with high energy and physicality then that will translate into the game on Saturday.”

Contact Spencer Serling at [email protected]