Bucknell Football Posts First Shutout Since 2001 with 21-0 Victory at Fordham
Nov. 12, 2011
BRONX, N.Y. - Tyler Smith and Jeremiah Young rushed for first-quarter touchdowns and the Bison defense forced four first-half turnovers as the Bucknell football team clinched a winning record in 2011 with a 21-0 victory over Fordham Saturday afternoon at Jack Coffey Field. The 14 first-quarter points proved to be all that was necessary for the Bison, who posted their first shutout since 2001 as they improved to 6-4 on the season.
Smith rushed for 204 yards, giving him 416 in his last two outings, the highest back-to-back two-game total in program history, breaking Rich Lemon's previous standard of 403. Smith registered 212 yards on the ground last time out at Lafayette. Lemon posted his 403 yards in back-to-back contests against Holy Cross and Colgate in 1995. Smith is just the fourth player in school history with two career 200-yard outings, joining Lemon, Jabu Powell and Daris Wilson.
Bucknell's defense was stellar throughout, forcing four of Fordham's five turnovers and holding the Rams to 267 yards. Fordham (1-9) finished the game with four punts, three interceptions, two fumbles lost, two missed field goals and one turnover on downs.
Senior defensive back Bryce Robertson made Bison history, intercepting his 11th and 12th passes of the season, breaking Gene Luccarelli's 41-year-old program standard. Robertson, who leads the nation in interceptions, has three consecutive multi-interception outings and has picked off at least one pass in eight of the team's 10 games.
Thanks to Smith's strong running and 63 yards by Jeremiah Young, who returned to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 8 against Lehigh, the Bison attempted just three passes in the second half. Starting quarterback Brandon Wesley was 6-for-11 for 80 yards in the contest. Two-hundred and fifty-two of Bucknell's 346 yards of total offense came on the ground.
Bucknell forced four of its five turnovers in the first half and led 14-0 after 30 minutes of play. Three of those turnovers came on successive Fordham possessions, while the third interception of the year by co-captain Sean Rafferty halted a Rams drive in the final minute of the first half.
The Bison went on the board first midway through the first half when Smith nearly singlehandedly drove down the field for a touchdown. He completed a five-play, 71-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Smith accounted for all 71 yards on the drive, rushing four times for 64 yards, and catching one pass for seven yards. He reeled off runs of 21 and 36 yards on the drive.
Ryan Morgan got the ball back for the Bucknell offense on the ensuing kickoff when he forced a fumble that Evan Byers recovered at the Fordham 28-yard line. Backup quarterback Trey Lauletta entered the game for the first time on the drive, but could not move the ball and Drew Orth was forced to attempt a 40-yard field goal. He boomed a kick that had more than enough length, but it was wide left.
On the fifth play of Fordham's next drive the Bison forced another turnover as Derrick Palmer knocked the ball out of the hands of wide receiver Brian Wetzel's hands. Tim Bolte quickly pounced on the loose ball.
Bucknell took over near midfield and Wesley struck quickly with a 35-yard completion to Victor Walker that set up a one-yard touchdown run by Young, his second score this year.
Seven plays into the Rams ensuing drive Robertson recorded his first of two interceptions.
Bucknell still led just 14-0 in the fourth quarter with Fordham driving, but the Bison defense stopped a 4th-and-5 pass by Ryan Higgins at the 15-yard line and then on the very next play Smith scampered down the sideline for a career-long 52-yard run. That run set up his second score of the contest, which virtually sealed the outcome with just under six minutes to play.
Robertson's second interception then sealed the shutout as Fordham moved into Bucknell territory. Robertson picked off the pass at the 15-yard line and the Bison then ran out the clock.
Thanks to five forced turnovers and not turning it over at all, Bucknell improved to +28 on the year in turnover margin.
Fordham did have a chance to put some points on the board, but Josh Eden blocked his 12th career kick on a 30-yard Michael Marando field goal attempt in the first half, while Marando was wide right on a 28-yard try in the second half.
Higgins completed 19 of 29 passes for 185 yards for the Rams, who were shut out for the second time in three weeks. It was Bucknell's first shutout since defeating Georgetown 34-0 on Oct. 20, 2001.
The Bison, who have their most wins since 2006 and have tied the largest win improvement in school history (+5), will wrap up their 2011 campaign next Saturday, Nov. 19 at Colgate. Bucknell will be aiming for its first seven-win campaign since 2004.
Bucknell-Fordham Video Highlights