Football falls short in final home contest

By Greg Stevenson

Senior Writer

For the third consecutive week, the Bison football team, falling to the Holy Cross Crusaders 16-13, lost on Saturday. The game was also the team’s Senior Day and final home contest of the 2011 season. Despite forcing multiple turnovers and holding the Crusaders to negative yards rushing, the Orange and Blue dropped back to .500 on the season after starting 4-1 and now sit in fourth place in the Patriot League.

Struggling on the offensive side of the ball, the Bison had to rely on a stout, opportunistic defense to keep them in the game.

Now second in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in forced turnovers, the Orange and Blue intercepted three passes from Holy Cross quarterback Ryan Taggart, the country’s second-best passer. The Crusaders rounded out their sloppy six-turnover game with three lost fumbles.

Leading the way was Bryce Robertson ’12 with two interceptions, bringing his season total to eight. Beau Traber ’13 also made his impact on the stat sheet, recording a career-high 10 tackles along with two crucial sacks. Overall, the Bison would sack Taggert six times in the game.

“Our focus defensively was to work to impact the effectiveness of their QB,” Head Coach Joe Susan said. “We played aggressively throughout. We did drop one interception in the end zone and it would have kept them from scoring a touchdown on that drive, which they ultimately scored. But, overall, when you force a team to turn the ball six times, we feel we have improved defensively.”

The historic defensive performance was not enough to outweigh a difficult day on the opposite side of the ball. After an outstanding start to the year, quarterback Brandon Wesley ’14 continued a tough stretch against Holy Cross, completing just seven passes in 27 attempts for 77 yards. On the ground, Wesley mustered just 21 yards rushing and was sacked six times.

“We know that we cannot pound the ball versus the way other teams defend us by personnel groups and formations,” Susan said. “We felt that we needed to take some shots down the field. We had opportunities in which we got behind their secondary and could not cash in. We also were given field position chances that we had to settle for two field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. We need to score touchdowns. We will continue to work our personnel to find the right mix on the field.”

The Orange and Blue were able to get a good portion of their offense from the rushing game, thanks to running back Tyler Smith ’13. His score early in the third quarter, the lone touchdown in the game for the Bison, tied the game at 13.

Kicker Drew Orth ’12 added two more field goals and one extra point to his already-impressive 2011 campaign. Orth leads the Orange and Blue in points scored with 34 and is a perfect 10 for 10 in extra points. On field goals, Orth has missed just one in nine attempts and has made three from longer than 40 yards out.

The Bison begin a tough three-game road stretch to end their season this weekend at Lafayette. After falling to the Leopards last season 33-22, the Orange and Blue will look to avenge last year’s loss and snap their three-game losing streak in the process.

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