Football takes season opener in dramatic fashion

By Greg Stevenson

Senior Writer

After leading his Orange and Blue to a dramatic 27-26 victory over the Duquesne Dukes last Saturday night by taking the offense down the length of the field for the game-winning score with under a minute remaining, it’s pretty safe to assume that quarterback Brandon Wesley ’14 has cemented a legacy in the Bison football program.

The Orange and Blue faced a six-point deficit with 82 yards to cover and only seven minutes left, but a poised Wesley guided his team to the end-zone and a 1-0 start to the 2011 season, both through the air and with his feet. Wesley completed two passes of over ten yards on the drive, including a 27-yarder to Gabe Skwara ’12 and another to Robert Owoyele ’13 on a third-down play.

“I feel that Brandon developed confidence as the game went on,” head coach Joe Susan said. “It is a tribute to the protection and the work of the offensive line and running-backs. We also ran the ball better in the second half, and that had an effect on the Duquesne pass rush.”

Running-back Jeremiah Young ’13 reeled off a 19-yard run to put the Bison in the redzone. The most crucial play of the series came on a pass-interference call on third-and-15, which resulted in a Bison first-and-goal.

Already having tortured the Duquesne secondary with his arm earlier in the drive, Wesley capped off the wild game with a one-yard quarterback sneak on fourth-down to score the tying touchdown. Kicker Alex Eckard ’14 notched the extra point to give his team the one-point advantage, one the Bison would not relinquish.

Early on, Duquesne looked poised to hand the Bison their third consecutive loss in this series. The Dukes raced out to a 16-3 lead with two minutes remaining in the second quarter, but the Orange and Blue stepped up on both sides of the ball to tally two touchdowns before halftime, giving the Bison a 17-16 lead.

“We speak to the team all the time about not worrying about the clock or the scoreboard, to focus on one thing—this play,” Susan said. “The way this team handled the end of the first half and the end of the game is a reflection of them believing this and putting it into play during the game.”

An interception return for a touchdown by Tim Bolte ’12, followed by a touchdown reception by Skwara just 75 seconds later gave the Bison a 17-16 lead heading into the locker room. Duquesne would, however, score just three minutes into the second half and add another field goal in the third quarter, giving them a 26-20 advantage before the dramatic final drive of the game.

Josh Eden ’12 was named Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week for blocking an extra point on Duquesne’s first touchdown of the contest, the difference in a game decided by just one point.

With an opening victory for the first time in three seasons under their belt, the Bison will host Marist this Saturday at 6 p.m., looking for the same magic that propelled them to victory over Duquesne.

“The challenge the Marist game brings is a challenge I confront the team with all the time—can we get rid of the feeling from the last game as quickly as possible and focus on a new game plan in all three phases of the game? The biggest opponent we face is ourselves. The most important game of the year is this one,” said Susan.

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