LEWISBURG, Pa. – John Burdick booted a career-best 46-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Bucknell football team to a thrilling 34-31 victory over Sacred Heart on Saturday night at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.

Joey DeFloria rushed for two touchdowns, Chad Freshnock added another, and John Chiarolanzio threw for 187 yards and a touchdown in his first start of the campaign to help the Bison improve to 2-2. 

Sacred Heart (2-2) rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter and tied the game at 31 apiece when Kevin Duke found Lawrence Nembhard for a 41-yard touchdown with 4:12 remaining in regulation. The Pioneers forced a Bison punt and advanced the ball near midfield, but Ben Richard and Nick Zarkoski teamed up to stuff Duke inches short of a first down on a 4th and 1, giving the Bison a chance to win it. 

A 24-yard pass from Chiarolanzio to Marcus Ademilola on 3rd-and-8 put the Bison into field goal range, but an incompletion, a one-yard loss and a holding penalty pushed them back to the Sacred Heart 35. Then, Matt Muh, in at quarterback after Chiarolanzio was shaken up, hit Jack Horan for a six-yard gain to the 29 with two seconds remaining.

After the Pioneers called two timeouts to ice the kicker, Burdick drilled the 46-yard field goal and sprinted to the opposite end zone in celebration while the bench emptied in pursuit.

The 46-yard field goal was eight yards longer than Burdick's previous career long. It capped a perfect night for him, as he made both of his field-goal attempts and all four extra points. Punter Alex Pechin averaged 48.4 yards on nine attempts to round out a big night for the Bison kickers.

At the end of the first quarter, Bucknell held a 14-0 advantage. The Bison opened the scoring with 10:45 on the clock when Chiarolanzio found a wide-open Horan for a 38-yard touchdown. Less than two minutes later, after Trevor Fennimore forced a fumble and Ben Richard recovered it at the Sacred Heart 16, DeFloria capped the abbreviated drive with a 12-yard touchdown run.

Early in the second quarter, the Bison extended their lead to 17-0 on a 30-yard Burdick field goal. The Pioneers got on the board with 1:38 left in the frame, with Josh Freiria capping a 12-play, 73-yard drive with a 34-yard field goal.

Just when it looked like Bucknell would carry a two-touchdown lead into the locker room, Kevin Barry picked off a Chiarolanzio pass and raced 60 yards for a score with just 58 seconds on the clock. The Pioneers carried the momentum from Barry's pick six into the third quarter, with Ezekiel Ennis returning the opening kickoff 98 yards for a score that tied the game at 17 apiece.

On Sacred Heart's next drive, Aaron Brown intercepted a Duke pass and returned it 19 yards to the Pioneer 13. The Bison took advantage; DeFloria again did the honors, rushing three yards for a score.

After the teams traded three and outs, Bucknell took over with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter. Chiarolanzio appeared to hit Alex Twiford for a 48-yard touchdown, but an illegal block in the back penalty brought the ball back to the Sacred Heart 40. The Bison then marched to the red zone, with Chiarolanzio breaking free for a 17-yard gain that brought them to the three-yard line just as time expired in the quarter. Freshnock ultimately punched the ball into the end zone from one yard out 41 seconds into the final fame, giving the Bison a 31-17 lead.

The Pioneers cut Bucknell's edge to a touchdown on their next drive, covering 79 yards in six plays. After Duke found Byron Barney for a 47-yard gain, Eli Terry scampered 11-yards for a score that made it a 31-24 game.

Richard paced the defense with 15 tackles (four solo), the most by a Bison in 2017 and three shy of his career-best total. He also recovered his second career fumble. Mark Pyles (12) and Lauro (10) also reached the double figures in tackles. Brown and Joe Lauro posted interceptions.

DeFloria led the Bison on the ground with a season-best 80 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Eight different receivers caught a pass, with Horan leading the way in both receptions (5), yards (54) and touchdowns (1).

The Bison return to action on Sept. 30 when they take on Monmouth for the first time in history at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.

Bucknell Wins Thriller over Sacred Heart