LEWISBURG, Pa. – CJ Williams rushed for 154 yards and three touchdowns, Will Carter caught six passes for 130 yards and Brandon Wesley was an efficient 16-for-21 for 213 yards to lead the Bucknell football team to a near-flawless 48-10 victory over No. 15 Lehigh Saturday afternoon at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. The win snapped a 15-game losing streak in the series for the Bison, who won their second straight contest to improve to 3-4, 1-2 PL on the year.
Bucknell, which registered its first Homecoming win since 2005, jumped out to a 27-0 first-half lead en route to its largest margin of victory since a 51-10 win over Towson. It was the most points for the Bison since tallying 48 in a season-opening win over Duquesne in 2008 and it marked the squad’s first victory over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 13 Holy Cross in the 2009 season finale. The 48 points also equaled the most by Bucknell in the 77-game series with the Mountain Hawks.
The Bison forced five Lehigh (6-2, 1-1 PL) turnovers, including four interceptions. Matthew Steinbeck had two picks to move his career total to 10, which is good for seventh in program history. Clayton Ewell and Tajh Turner added interceptions as well.
Bucknell was dominant early, scoring points on each of its first five possessions and holding Lehigh to three punts, two interceptions and one fumble on its first six possessions. The Bison finished with a season-high 509 yards of total offense, including 296 on the ground. Lehigh finished with 316 yards, 175 below its season average.
A Brandon Leaks fumble on the opening kickoff set the tone for the entire game as Bucknell took possession at the Lehigh 23-yard line and then got on the board a few plays later with a 32-yard field goal by Derek Maurer.
Mountain Hawk quarterback Brandon Bialkowski fired three straight incomplete passes on the next drive, giving Bucknell the ball back at its own 42-yard line. A 36-yard completion to Josh Brake and a 19-yard run by Carter helped set up a short touchdown pass in the flat to Travis Friend to stake the Bison to a 10-0 lead.
The Bucknell defense forced another punt on the ensuing possession and quickly scored again. A 54-yard pass from Wesley to Carter got the Bison down the field and set up a 28-yard field goal by Maurer, his seventh of the year.
Turner’s interception halted an 8-play, 41-yard drive at the 10-yard line. Bucknell then went on a 7-play, 93-yard drive that featured a 47-yard pass to Carter and a 15-yard backwards screen to offensive lineman Julie’n Davenport. Williams made it 20-0 on a two-yard run, the first of his three scores.
Lehigh was held to three plays before punting on its next series and the Bison answered with more points, covering 62 yards on nine plays. A five-yard run by Wesley made it 27-0 with 7:27 left in the first half.
The Mountain Hawks finally got on the board with 23 seconds left in the first half when Ryan Pandy connected on a 25-yard field goal.
Bucknell held a 276-146 yardage edge in the first half, including 185 passing yards by Wesley thanks to the three long completions to Brake and Carter.
The Bison kept the momentum in the second half as they covered 76 yards on nine plays and took up 4:32 off the clock on the opening drive of the third quarter. The drive ended in a 17-yard touchdown rush by Williams that featured him leaping over the defender to cross the goal line and made it 34-3.
Bucknell kept the ball on the ground much of the second half as it dominated time of possession 36:44-23:16, including 20:31-9:29 in the second half. Williams had 109 yards after halftime and Matt DelMauro added 72 on six carries on the game’s final two drives. DelMauro’s first appearance in the game came with 5:28 to play and he carried the ball five times for all 66 yards on the drive that ended in a 22-yard touchdown and closed the scoring in the contest.
Bialkowski finished the game 14-for-28 for 174 yards and two interceptions before leaving the game with an injury in the third quarter. Overall, Lehigh’s three quarterbacks were 21-for-43 as the Bison defense posted eight pass breakups.
Williams’ 100-yard game was his third of the season. He now has 582 yards on the year and is the first Bison to rush for three touchdowns in a game since Jeremiah Young last year at Lehigh.
Carter posted his first career 100-yard outing. He now has 21 catches for 273 yards in three games played this season.
Bucknell will try to extend its winning streak to three games next Saturday when it travels to Colgate for a 1 p.m. contest.