This past Saturday, Colgate not only beat Bucknell 29-14 to close out their regular season on a high note, but also got a record breaking performance from senior receiver Pat Simonds. Simonds pulled down nine receptions for 167 yards and two touchdowns. His performance not only gave him over 1,000 yards receiving on the year, but also broke the Colgate record for receiving touchdowns in a season, as Saturday’s two scores gave him 14 on the year. The previous record was 13, held by Tom Stenglein and set in 1985. Simonds also became only the third receiver in school history to have consecutive 1,000 yard campaigns.
“Breaking the touchdown record is quite an accomplishment, especially when people tend to think of us as a run first team,” Head Coach Dick Biddle said. “Since I’ve come here he’s the best receiver I’ve coached over a full four-year period.”
The win against Bucknell gave Colgate a 9-2 record to end the regular season, and they will either finish second or third in the Patriot League depending on the result of this weekend’s Lehigh/Lafayette game. Despite a strong season, the chances of Colgate getting an at-large bid in the forthcoming NCAA tournament are slim.
Bucknell struck first against Colgate early in the second quarter, as the Bison took advantage of a short field after a feeble punt by first-year Trevor Lawler. The Bison drove 55-yards in 10 plays and took a 7-0 lead on a five-yard run by quarterback C.J. Hopson. Colgate, however, got into the end zone on their next possession, thanks to a 15-yard run by sophomore running back Nate Eachus. However, first-year Evan Colborne missed the extra point and Bucknell maintained a 7-6 advantage.
Colborne redeemed himself shortly thereafter with a 34-yard field goal after a 39-yard drive, giving the Raiders a 9-7 lead to end the half.
Bucknell grabbed the first points after the break, as Hopson found the end zone for the second time on the afternoon, this time scampering in on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. Before the third quarter was out though, Colgate had regained the lead, as junior quarterback Greg Sullivan found Simonds for a 34-yard touchdown strike. Colgate went for two, but the run by Nate Eachus failed miserably, so the Raider advantage stayed at 15-14. In the fourth, Sullivan again found Simonds for his record breaking 14th receiving touchdown of the year, which also gave Colgate a 22-14 lead after the finally successful extra point.
On the ensuing kickoff return, Junior Gary Marshall forced a fumble by Bucknell’s Josh Lee, which was recovered by Colgate junior Brad Keele at the Bucknell 28. Colgate soon faced a third-and-13 from the Bucknell 31. However, Sullivan put the game away as he ran away with a 31-yard touchdown scamper. Colborne nailed the PAT to put the Raiders up 29-14. That score would hold until the final whistle. Colgate finished the season with a 9-2 record overall and a 4-2 record in the Patriot League.
Pat Simonds was not the only one with a solid outing on offense for Colgate, as Sullivan was solid as well. He not only threw for 212 yards and two scores, but also ran for 102 yards and a touchdown. Eachus was not too shabby either, rushing for 99 yards and a touchdown run.
After giving up 56 points last time out against Lafayette, the defense also played much better against Bucknell. They gave up just two scores, despite poor special teams play that routinely put them in tough field position. Senior Uzi Idah led the team with 10 tackles, while junior Mike Berry was second with eight.
“The kids worked hard this week in practice and during the game they pressed a lot less than they did against Lafayette,” Coach Biddle said, referring to his defense. “I think we also had a very good handle on what Bucknell was going to be doing on offense.”
Bucknell got awful play in the passing game from quarterback C.J. Hobson, who was just 4-14 for 59 yards. He did do well on the ground, however, racking up 134 yards and two scores.
Colgate will lose a lot next year, most notably Pat Simonds, linebacker Greg Hadley, Uzi Idah, and tackle Ryan Gross. The loss of Simonds will be especially tough as he is certainly one of the best receivers to ever play in Hamilton and is likely to be drafted into the NFL. However, with players like Greg Sullivan, Mike Barry and Nate Eachus returning there is certainly plenty to hope for next season.