Sept. 24, 2011
PRINCETON, N.J. - Bucknell's defense had its best game in recent memory as it held Princeton to three points in the first 50-plus minutes, caused six turnovers, four of which led directly to points, and held the Tigers to 248 total yards in a 34-9 victory at Princeton Stadium Saturday evening. Josh Eden spearheaded the Bison defense with a safety, one-half sack, a fumble recovery and an interception return for a touchdown.
Eden, who moved into the top 10 in Bison history in career sacks (16.0), nearly singlehandedly helped the Bison to a 17-3 halftime advantage. He was credited with a first-quarter safety, scooped up a fumble at the Princeton nine-yard line that led to Bucknell's first touchdown and he returned an interception 27 yards for a score in the final minute of the first half. Eden finished the game with four tackles overall.
Bucknell, which won at Princeton for the first time in 13 tries, snapped a nine-game losing streak to Ivy League foes. The Bison are now 3-1 on the season, marking their best start since 2008.
Bryce Robertson contributed to the strong defensive showing as he intercepted passes in the end zone on the final play of the first half and on Princeton's first drive of the second half. He now has four interceptions this year, the first Bison to reach that number since Ahkiel White in 2009. Robertson's multi-interception outing was the first for a Bucknell player since Rob Gerlach against Robert Morris in 2009.
Overall, the Bison forced six Tiger turnovers - three interceptions and three fumbles. Bucknell did not turn the ball over at all and is now +11 in turnovers on the season.
The Bison posted seven tackles for loss, two sacks and forced four Princeton punts en route to their largest margin of victory since defeating Marist 38-7 in 2007. The nine points allowed were the fewest since Georgetown scored only six points against Bucknell in a 2009 matchup.
Princeton registered a 43-yard field goal on its first drive and the Bison then kept the Tigers scoreless for nearly 50 minutes before Princeton cut into a 24-point deficit with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Bucknell sealed the game with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that spanned 8:06, eating up the final minutes of the third quarter and the first 4:34 of the fourth, ending with a five-yard Brandon Wesley touchdown run, making the score 27-3.
Wesley rushed for a career-high 76 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 16 of 23 passes for 138 yards. He is the first Bison with three rushing scores in a game since Marcello Trigg had three in that 31-point victory over Marist in 2007. Jeremiah Young added 53 yards and Tyler Smith 26 as the Bison doubled up Princeton on the ground, 153-74.
Bucknell needed just 291 yards of total offense to pile up its 34 points since its average drive start was the Princeton 31-yard line.
Bucknell scored its first points after a 30-yard Ryan Gutowski punt pinned Princeton inside its own five-yard line. On the very first play of the ensuing drive Eden and Robert De La Rosa took down Chuck Dibilio five yards deep in his own end zone to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Defense again played a part in Bucknell's next score as Eden recovered a Tommy Wornham fumble inside the 10-yard line. Three plays later Wesley dove in for the go-ahead score. He then found Tyler Smith on a short pass for the two-point conversion to make it 10-3 early in the second quarter.
Eden then rounded out the first-half scoring when he intercepted a Wornham pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it 27 yards for his first career touchdown, making it 17-3.
Bucknell's first score in the second half came after another Princeton turnover. Sean Rafferty returned a fumble 46 yards and seven plays later Orth connected on the 35-yard field goal, his third in three tries this year.
Wesley tacked on his third rushing touchdown in the final minutes to help Bucknell to its first 30-point output since the middle of the 2008 campaign. The Bison took possession after Eden recovered a Princeton onside kick near midfield.
Wornham completed 15 of 33 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown for Princeton. No Tiger had more than 36 yards rushing or 70 yards receiving.
Bucknell dominated the time of possession for a third straight game. On a humid night, the Bison held the ball for 38:42, including 21:04 in the second half, against Princeton's no-huddle offense.
The Bison will play three of their next four games at home, starting with their Patriot League opener against Georgetown next Saturday at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. After four straight 6 p.m. kickoffs, that contest will begin at 1 p.m.