The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Football wins home opener vs. VMI

Lauren+Medeiros%2C+Co-Photography+Editor+%2F+The+Bucknellian
Lauren Medeiros, Co-Photography Editor / The Bucknellian

On Saturday, Sept. 9, the Bison football team defeated Virginia Military Institute 21-13 at the Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium for their home opener. Throughout the game, the Bison were strong offensively, and defensively held VMI off the scoreboard for three straight quarters.

In the first quarter, Bucknell struck first, scoring a touchdown on their second possession of the game. They drove 80 yards on nine plays. Ralph Rucker ’25 connected the ball to Damian Harris ’24 on a fade route for an 18-yard touchdown. This 7-0 lead would last the Bison three quarters.

Later in the fourth quarter, VMI tied up the game after scoring a touchdown. Although VMI gained 13 points in the fourth quarter, the Bison were more fired up than ever and added two more touchdowns in the final seven minutes, clinching the victory.

During the game, VMI missed two field goals, one at the end of the first half and another in the third quarter. 

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With 2:53 left to play in the third, the Bison fumbled the ball, committing the only turnover of the game. 

The final 10 minutes of the game were packed with action and scoring opportunities. VMI’s game-tying touchdown came on a 27-yard flea flicker pass. However, the Bison responded immediately, driving 79 yards on 11 plays and scoring on a 7-yard pass from Rucker to Charlie Kreinbucher ’26. 

On one of VMI’s later drives, Bucknell special teams stepped up, with Jack Goheen ’26 blocking a punt attempt, taking over inside VMI’s 10-yard line. Baker scored three plays later for the Bison to establish a 21-7 lead. 

VMI scored one more time, but were unable to catch up with only 1:30 remaining on the clock. 

The Orange and Blue’s defense collected six sacks and eight tackles for loss. That ultimately limited VMI to 75 rushing yards. For the Bison, Brad Jamison ’25 supplied a team high 12 tackles and Connor Carretta ’24 recorded seven tackles, two of which were sacks.

Additionally, the Orange and Blue defense forced five three-and-outs throughout the game, including two in the first quarter. 

On offense, the Bison earned 397 yards, which was the most since the season opening game in the spring of 2021. Rucker threw 224 on 19-30 passing and tossed a pair of touchdowns. Furthermore, Rucker ran for 43 yards. 

Harris grabbed eight receptions and earned a career-high of 101 yards, as well as a touchdown. 

Another notable player for the Bison was Rushawn Baker ’25, who rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown. For Baker, this was the third 100-yard game of his career. 

Other standout performances for Bucknell included a team high 117 all-purpose yards for Coleman Bennett ’24, who had 54 receiving, 24 rushing, and 39 on returns; Jamison who added a sack to his career high tackles as well as Ruben Anderson ’24 who averaged 40.4 yards on eight punts. 

This win earned Bucknell a 4-3 lead in the all-time series records against VMI, with their first win over VMI since 2015. 

“VMI was a good challenge,” Bradley Pao ’26 said. “Now we are ready to prepare for Penn.”

Next weekend the Bison have a bye-week, but will be returning home to the Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23 to compete against The University of Pennsylvania. 

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