HANOVER, N.H. – Seniors Brandon Wesley and Sean Sellers returned to the Bison lineup and Bucknell youngsters CJ Williams and Matt DelMauro both ran for touchdowns as the Bison posted a solid 17-14 victory over Dartmouth Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field. The Bison, who didn’t seal the game until Lee Marvel covered an onside kick in the final seconds, improved to 2-4 on the year, while the Big Green fell to 2-3.
Dartmouth entered the game averaging nearly 500 yards of total offense per game and the Bucknell defense limited the Big Green to 252 yards. Sellers, who had not played since game two at Cornell, finished with six tackles, 1.5 sacks and he pressured quarterbacks Dalyn Williams and Alex Park all day. Tracey Smith added eight tackles, 2.5 sacks and a key forced fumble that led to Bucknell’s final touchdown. Overall, the Bison registered a season-high seven sacks and they forced Dartmouth to change quarterbacks in the second half.
Wesley, who also had not seen action since Cornell, played all but the first two series and completed 11 of 21 passes for 127 yards. His 42-yard, first-half completion to Josh Brake moved him past Scott Auchenbach and into first place on Bucknell’s career passing yards list. He has now thrown for 5,347 yards in his four-year career.
DelMauro (75 yards) and Williams (68 yards) combined to rush for 143 yards and both Bison scores. DelMauro had a nifty zig-zag run from 15 yards out early in the fourth quarter to give the Bison their first lead at 10-7. Less than four minutes later Williams put Bucknell up 17-7 on a strong 11-yard run up the middle that featured him running over Dartmouth’s safety on the way to the goal line.
After a scoreless first quarter, Dartmouth took the lead early in the second quarter when Dominick Pierre capped a 12-play, 73-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run. It appeared as though the Bison defense was going to force a Big Green field goal when Sellers and Demetrisu Baldwin-Youngblood sacked Williams on a third-and-goal from the five. However, Baldwin-Youngblood was flagged for a personal foul, giving Dartmouth new life and the Big Green capitalized on the extra chance with a touchdown.
Bucknell accumulated 117 of its 120 first-half yards on two drives, one led by starting quarterback RJ Nitti and the other led by Wesley. Wesley led a 13-play, 74-yard drive immediately after Dartmouth’s touchdown, but Williams was stopped short of the goal line on a fourth-and-goal from the one pass completion.
The Bison trailed 7-0 at the half, but got on the board on the opening drive of the second half when they covered 51 yards on 14 plays, culminating in a 32-yard field goal by Derek Maurer.
Bucknell’s very next drive was 10 plays and 84 yards and finished with DelMauro’s touchdown run. Dartmouth accepted a holding call that gave the Bison third down and the ball on the 15-yard line instead of fourth down just inside the five-yard line, giving DelMauro the chance to tally the go-ahead score.
Perhaps the biggest play in the game occurred when Smith knocked the ball out of Williams’ hands deep in Dartmouth territory. Matt Johnson recovered the ball and one play later CJ Williams pounded his way into the end zone to give Bucknell a 17-7 advantage with 10:17 to play.
After turning Dartmouth over on downs, Bucknell took possession with 2:38 on the clock and the Big Green with only one timeout. It appeared as though the Bison were in good position to win, but Dartmouth blocked a Kyle Sullivan punt, which it recovered. Two plays later Park found Bo Patterson for a 21-yard touchdown to make it 17-14 with 44 seconds to play, setting up an onside kick situation.
The Big Green lined up for the onside kick and just before the ball went into play, Bucknell head coach Joe Susan called timeout. After the brief stoppage, the onside kick ensued and Marvel landed on it for the Bison, clinching the victory.
Bucknell’s win marked its first over an Ivy League team since 2011 at Princeton.
The Bison dominated the time of possession in the second half, holding the ball for 20:18 and totaling 175 of their 295 yards after intermission.
There were just two turnovers in the contest with each team fumbling once.
Bucknell held a big advantage in third down conversions, succeeding on 8 of 19, compared to 3 of 16 by Dartmouth.
Williams started at quarterback for Dartmouth and was 10-for-21 for 104 yards and he was sacked five teams. Park was 7-for-13 for 72 yards, while Pierre was the team’s leading rusher with 75 yards on 19 carries.
Continuing his strong performance from one week earlier when he had seven catches in his season debut, Bucknell freshman WR Will Carter led all players with eight catches for 69 yards. He often used his speed to gain extra yardage on a number of screen passes.
Bucknell will return home next Saturday, Oct. 26, when it hosts Lehigh at 1 p.m. at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. It will be Homecoming weekend on the Bucknell campus.