Courtesy of Bucknell Athletics
LEWISBURG, Pa. â€“ Nick Schwieger rushed 25 times for 216 yards and two touchdowns and the Big Green scored the final 37 points in the game as the Bucknell football team lost its home opener to Dartmouth 43-20 Saturday afternoon in front of more than 6,000 fans at sunny Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. The Bison built a 20-9 halftime lead as they totaled 296 of their 357 total yards in the first 30 minutes of play.
It was a tale of two halves as Bucknell (0-3) led 13-0 and 20-6 behind two touchdowns and a pair of field goals in the first half. In the second half they punted four times, missed a field goal and threw an interception that resulted in a touchdown for Dartmouth (1-0), which was playing its first game of the season.
The Bison offense had accumulated 337 yards of total offense and 19 first downs in its first two games of the 2010 season, losses to Duquesne and Marist. It nearly equaled those two numbers in the first half on Saturday with 296 yards and 11 first downs. In fact, the 20 first-half points were more than Bucknell had managed to score in its first two outings combined (16).
Despite the final result, Bucknell did have some bright spots as freshman quarterback Brandon Wesley, who was making his second career start, completed 15 of 23 passes for a career-high 201 yards and two touchdowns. Four of those completions were to fellow freshman Victor Walker, who became the second different Bison receiver in the last five years to reach 100 yards receiving in a game with 105. He had a 40-yard catch that help set up Bucknellâ€™s first touchdown and a 58-yard grab that led to its final score.
Three of the Bisonâ€™s four scoring drives were set up by plays of at least 40 yards. In addition to Walkerâ€™s two long catches, Beau Traber ran up the middle on a fake punt for 51 yards. Four plays later Drew Orth connected on a 23-yard field goal, his second of the game and fifth of the season.
The Bison jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter behind a 36-yard Orth field goal and a two-yard touchdown pass from Wesley to classmate Travis Friend. That touchdown followed the first career interception by freshman Derrick Palmer and the first long pass to Walker. Wesley kept the drive alive when on a third-and-14 from the Dartmouth 19 he found Frank DeNick for a first down.
After a missed field goal on its first drive of the second quarter, Dartmouth finally got on the board midway through when quarterback Connor Kempe, who was 17 of 23 for 211 yards, found John Gallgher for a nine-yard touchdown. A 42-yard kickoff return by Shawn Abuhoff helped the Big Green start the drive inside Bucknell territory.
Bucknell extended its lead to 20-6 as Wesley connected with Terna Ityokumbul on a six-yard strike on the left side of the end zone. That score was set up by the second long pass to Walker. However, it was the last time the Bison would put points on the board.
Dartmouth put together an 11-play, 48-yard drive that resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Foley Schmidt with 1:01 left in the first half, making the halftime score 20-9.
In the second half Dartmouthâ€™s offense played very strong, totaling 310 of its 481 yards of total offense. Schwieger, who recorded the sixth-best rushing mark in program history, tallied both of his touchdowns in the second half. The first was a 56-yard run where he broke a tackle in the backfield and then scampered 56 yards down the middle of the field untouched. That score gave the Big Green its first lead (23-20) of the contest and it never trailed again.
The second of two touchdown passes from Kempe to Michael Reilly extended the Dartmouth advantage to 29-20. The Big Green missed the extra point for a second time as Josh Eden blocked his second kick of the contest.
The Bison still had a chance to win the game midway through the fourth quarter when they trailed 29-20. Dartmouth had a third-and-five from Bucknellâ€™s 17-yard line with just under eight minutes to play. Kempe proceeded to find Schwieger for a six-yard gain for a first down on what was a key play. The very next play Schwieger ran through the middle of the line to make it 36-20.
Schwieger finished with a game-high 273 all-purpose yards, while Abuhoff totaled 194, 114 on kickoff returns, 24 on punt returns and 56 on an interception return. He also added a pair of tackles and broke up two passes.
Tyler Smith posted a solid all-around day for Bucknell with eight rushes for 47 yards and four receptions for 34 yards. He also returned four kicks for 91 yards.
Once again, Wesley utilized a number of receivers as eight different Bison caught passes in the contest.
Tyler Anderson led Bucknellâ€™s defense with a career-high 10 tackles, while Traber had seven in his 2010 debut. Jamal Briggs posted nine, giving him 21 in the last two games.
Saturdayâ€™s meeting was the first between Bucknell and Dartmouth since 1993. The Bison fell to 1-5 all-time in the series.
Bucknell will be idle next weekend. They Bison will then continue their three-game homestand Oct. 2 vs. Cornell. That contest will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised by CBS College Sports Network.