Bison football dominates leopards in spring opener

Nick Sperduto, Contributing Writer

After giving up a 61-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the game, the Bison football team looked like they could be in for a long afternoon. The opposite ended up being the case, with defense putting on the clamps and the offense taking a ride on the “Sanders Express” en route to a 38-13 victory for the Orange and Blue.

Brandon Sanders ’22 was downright dominant for the Bison. The 2019 All-Patriot League first team wide receiver picked up right where he left off in the Fall 2019 season, recording 179 yards and two touchdowns on 12 receptions. Sanders became the sixth player in school history to surpass 170 receiving yards in a single game, and was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the week in recognition of his performance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our daily college lives, but its impacts have been especially acute for athletes. Before facing Lafayette, Sanders and the Bison had not taken the field since November 2019 (nearly 500 days).

“I did not necessarily focus on doing something more than the other, but I wanted to take the time to get better at everything. I wanted to make sure that my game was as polished as it could be whenever the next time was that we stepped on the field,” Sanders said. His offseason efforts clearly paid off on Saturday.

“We have been waiting a really long time to just get to this point, so being able to enjoy each and every day of it is really important to me. We know that we have a really good chance to win [the Patriot League] this year. We are experienced and we have the talent [but] we need to make sure we stay focused on our goal,” Sanders said.

Wide receiver Dominic Lyles ’22 got things going for the offense, hauling in a beautiful corner fade for a 27-yard touchdown at the 8:30 mark in the first quarter to put the Bison ahead 7-6. After an otherwise quiet start, Sanders put his dazzling footwork on display, with a highlight-reel toe tap catch on the sideline to set up a field goal just before the half, extending their lead to 10-6.

Behind the strong arms of Logan Bitikofer ’21 (14-22, 183 yards) and Tarrin Earle ’24 (11-13, 145 yards), the Bison opened the floodgates in the second half. As Sanders continued to shine, tight end Alex Twifford ’22 scored his first collegiate touchdown, hauling in three passes for 52 yards. It was a game full of firsts, as linebacker Blake Leake ’24 returned his first career interception for a touchdown, extending the lead to 38-6 and rounding out the scoring for the Bison, with just over six minutes left to play.

The defense was stout all game, dominating in the trenches and holding the Leopards to just 15 yards rushing. They continually set up the offense with prime field position, forcing five punts and four turnovers. Simeon Page ’21, Brandon Benson ’21 and Conner Romango ’21 each picked off a pass. Six players had at least four tackles for the Bison.

The Bison looked strong in their long anticipated return to action. They will look to carry their momentum to Worcester, Mass. this Saturday, April 3, where they will face defending Patriot League Champions Holy Cross.

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