Sept. 4, 2010
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Sophomore running back Tyler Smith returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter, but it was the lone touchdown for Bucknell as the Bison football team lost a hard-fought season opener at Duquesne, 17-13, Saturday evening at breezy Arthur J. Rooney Field. Bucknell freshman quarterback Brandon Wesley rushed 19 times for 48 yards and completed 12 of 21 passes for 81 yards in a reserve role.
The Bison had the ball at the Duquesne 40-yard line with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but a fourth-and-two scramble by Wesley was stopped shy of a first down, effectively ending the contest with just over a minute to play.
Bucknell's offense started the game somewhat sluggishly, going three-and-out on each of its first three series. During that span Duquesne took a 7-0 lead as Dukes quarterback Sean Patterson completed a four-play, 40-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown scramble.
Three possessions later the Bison finally got their first down and their first points of the 2010 campaign as Wesley engineered a 19-play drive that spanned nine minutes and ended in a 22-yard field goal by Drew Orth, who also converted a 36-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Twenty-eight of Bucknell's 61 total offensive plays came on back-to-back drives in the first half that featured nearly half of the Bison's 13 first downs in the game.
Bucknell managed just 108 yards of total offense in the first half, and 178 for the game, but its defense was strong throughout as Duquesne (1-0) totaled just 267 yards, including only 115 in the second half. Robert De La Rosa and Samuel Oyekoya each had sacks, while the Bison posted six tackles for loss as a team. Travis Nissley led the way with nine tackles.
One of the main differences in the contest was the fact that Duquesne capitalized on a third quarter fumble by starting quarterback Burke Batten
with a field goal, while the Bison were unable to score following a John von Paris
interception in the first half, going three-and-out on their ensuing possession.
After Bucknell tied the game on Smith's kickoff return, the first kickoff return for a touchdown by a Bison since A.J. Kizekai against Lafayette in 2008, Duquesne took the lead for good as Patterson found Dave Williams from nine yards out, wrapping up a seven-play, 74-yard drive.
The Bison did answer with Orth's 36-yarder five minutes into the fourth quarter on a drive that was helped by a pair of 15-yard penalties by the Dukes.
Eight different receivers caught passes for Bucknell, led by Frank DeNick's five catches. Punter Ryan Gutowski was called upon to punt seven times and did an admirable job despite three off-target snaps and a swirling wind. He averaged better than 28 yards per punt.
Larry McCoy was Duquesne's top rusher with 81 yards on 20 carries, while Akeem Moore caught four passes for a team-high 52 yards. Patterson ended up completing 13 of 24 passes for 159 yards.
Bucknell has now lost its season opener to Duquesne each of the last two years. Last September the Bison dropped a 24-19 decision in Pittsburgh. Each of the last seven meetings has been decided by 10 points or less.
The Bison will be back in action next Saturday, Sept. 11, at Marist. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.