Bucknell Football Drops Another Close One, 13-6 at Holy Cross
Oct. 6, 2012
WORCESTER, Mass. - Second-half interceptions by Evan Byers and Matthew Steinbeck each set up field goals by Bucknell's Sean Cobelli, but the Bison football team was unable to score on its other drives as Holy Cross defeated Bucknell 13-6 in a defensive battle Saturday afternoon at a mostly sunny Fitton Field that turned rainy just after the conclusion of the contest.
For the third straight game, the Bison were within one score on their final possession, but were unable to put points on the board. Following the eighth punt of the game by John Macomber, Bucknell took possession at its own 18-yard line with just over three minutes to play. Backup quarterback Trey Lauletta led the Bison to the Holy Cross 41-yard line, including a key 4th-and-7 completion to Jake Flaherty, but an interception by Logan Silver inside of two minutes to play clinched the game for the Crusaders. Lauletta was under heavy pressure and lofted a pass up that easily landed in the hands of Silver.
The contest featured 18 punts, four interceptions, one blocked punt and 433 yards of combined total offense as the defenses set the tone throughout the game.
Bucknell (1-4, 0-2 Patriot League) punted 10 times and had one blocked and managed a season-low 191 yards of total offense. The Bison played the second half with Lauletta, who had not seen extended playing time since last year's season finale, under center in place of starter Brandon Wesley. Wesley was 5-for-13 for 65 yards, while Lauletta was 10-for-23 for 80 yards.
"Holy Cross took over the line of scrimmage," said Bucknell third-year head coach Joe Susan. "The line of scrimmage moved backward and resulted in negative yardage runs."
Holy Cross (1-4, 1-0 PL) totaled 242 yards of total offense and punted eight times. QB Steven Elder was 19-for-35 for 242 yards and a pair of interceptions. The Crusaders managed just 37 rushing yards against the Bison defense that entered the game seventh nationally against the run.
The defense was a bright spot for the visiting Bison, who have still not allowed a team to score more than 20 points this season. Samuel Oyekoya finished with a career-high six tackles and 1.5 sacks, while Byers led the team for the second straight game with nine stops.
Holy Cross, which led 3-0 at halftime, led 13-0 late in the third quarter following John Macomber's second field goal of the game. The Bison then capitalized on the two interceptions thrown by Elder.
Bucknell's first score was a 22-yard field goal by Cobelli early in the fourth quarter. Byers' second career interception gave the Bison the ball inside the 10-yard line, setting up the field goal. Bucknell nearly scored a touchdown one play earlier, but Lauletta's pass to Josh Brake short-hopped into the receiver's arms.
Five plays later Steinbeck recorded his first career interception and returned it to near midfield. Seven plays after that Cobelli connected on a career-long 44-yard field goal, his sixth of the season. It was the longest by a Bison Will Carney converted a 47-yard field goal at Holy Cross in 2008.
"We actually missed two other ones," said Susan, referring to two additional interceptions Bison nearly posted. "Getting a turnover or two is certainly helpful."
Holy Cross got on the scoreboard first as it put together the only lengthy drive of the first half, ending with an 18-yard field goal by Macomber midway through the second quarter. The Crusaders marched 90 yards on 13 plays before being stopped at the one-yard line as Matthew Steinbeck made three straight tackles with Holy Cross inside the five-yard line. The Crusaders benefitted from four Bucknell penalties (three were accepted) on the drive that accounted for 25 yards. Two offside calls and a key 15-yard personal foul inside the 30-yard line hurt the Bison.
Holy Cross had just 25 yards of total offense on its first four drives, but totaled 65 (in addition to the 25 penalty yards) on its scoring drive.
The first half, especially, was a defensive battle as Bucknell and Holy Cross combined for 11 punts, one interception and one field goal during the first 30 minutes of play. The Bison finished the first half with 94 yards of total offense, while the Crusaders had 103. Both squads averaged approximately 3.0 yards per play and were a combined 5-for-19 on third downs.
After just over 100 yards in the first half, Holy Cross opened the second half with an 11-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that ended with a one-yard scoring run by Matt Bellomo on an option play after a fake quarterback sneak. The Crusaders had seven first downs in the first half and four on the opening drive of the second half.
Holy Cross tacked on a field goal two possessions later after Scotty O'Donoghue blocked a Ryan Gutowski punt, giving the Crusaders excellent field position. Bucknell's defense held Holy Cross to just a 22-yard field goal by Macomber, his second of the game.
Flaherty had a solid game for the Bison at wide receiver, totaling a career-high 78 yards on six catches. Tyler Smith led Bucknell's ground game with 25 yards on eight carries.
Bucknell, which is limiting opponents to 16.8 points per game, will continue its three-game road trip next Saturday, Oct. 13, at Harvard. Game time is 3:30 p.m. The contest will be televised live nationally on CBS Sports Network.
Bucknell-Holy Cross Highlights