Photo Courtesy of Bucknell Athletics Department
On Aug. 31, the Bison football team began their 2019 season by taking on the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. Playing at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles in front of 26,378 fans, the team gained an experience like no other, facing their first FBS opponent since 2015. The Owls flew away with the victory, winning by a final score of 56-12.
The Owls came out strong in the first quarter, scoring a touchdown on their first drive. By the end of the first, the Owls had set the tone with a quick 21-0 lead, recording 229 yards total offense and 12 first downs. The Bison finished the first quarter with a single first down and 22 passing yards.
During the second quarter, the Owls kicked off the scoring once again with a touchdown on their first possession, bringing the score to 28-0. The Bison answered back with the next two consecutive scores.
With 8:13 left on the clock in the second quarter, Gavin Pringle ’23 stepped in front of opposing quarterback’s pass, intercepting the ball and returning it up the sideline 36 yards for a touchdown. The Orange and Blue failed to execute on the extra point, keeping the score at 28-6.
After the Bison’s strong defensive effort, the defensive line forced the Owls to punt the next possession. The Bison then built momentum with energy and effort as they began to move the ball on offense. Quarterback John Chiarolanzio ’20 created an eight-play, 60-yard drive, ending in a 37-yard field goal by Ethan Torres ’21. Brandon Sanders ’22 made a highlight play during that drive with a 42 yard, one-handed grab on a deep ball by Chiarolanzio to advance the team to the red zone. With 1:02 left in the first half, the Owls led by a 35-9 margin.
The Owls had the upper hand in total offense (427-66) and first downs (22-4) going into halftime.
Quarterback Tarrin Earle ’22 started the second half and led the Bison on a 13-play, 64-yard drive. Torres stepped up to convert a 28-yard field goal, making it a 35-12 game. The final score came to 56-12 after the Owls delivered three more touchdowns by the end of the fourth quarter. The Owls finished with advantages in total offense, first downs, and time of possession.
“Temple is a great team and it was great to be able to test ourselves against them, especially so early on in the season,” Sanders said. “Even though the game did not go how we ultimately wanted, we were able to get a feel for the things we might be able to do this year and we’re extremely excited about that.”
Highlights for the Bison included Pringle’s pick-six as well as Sanders’ nine caught passes for 115 yards. Three different quarterbacks made an appearance for the Orange and Blue, with Logan Bitikofer ’21 passing for 39 yards, Chiarolanzio for 69 yards, and Earle for 82 yards. Chad Freshnock ’20 led the running backs with 30 rushing yards. Conner Romango ’21 matched his career-high total tackles of 12. Rick Mottram ’21 contributed 10 tackles Alex Pechin ’20 averaged 51.6 yards on eight punts, setting a new career-high in punting average.
“It was a great experience playing in the Eagles stadium for my first college game,” Pringle said. “The atmosphere was incredible. Our team did well collectively, but there will always be room for improvement. Moving forward I think we will all learn from the positives and negatives.”
The Orange and Blue’s next game will be away at Sacred Heart on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.