By Todd Merriett
Special to College Sports Journal
Editor’s Note: This story is courtesy of www.BucknellBison.com
LEWISBURG, PA. — R.J. Nitti completed 28 of 49 passes for a career-high 338 yards, Will Carter had a career-high 12 catches, Bobby Kaslander posted his second career 100-yard receiving outing and C.J. Williams returned to the lineup with a 103-yard rushing performance, but the Bucknell football team lost a Homecoming matchup to Georgetown, 17-9, Saturday afternoon at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.
The Bison put up plenty of offensive numbers, but were held to just a first-quarter touchdown and a second-quarter field goal. Georgetown (4-4, 2-1 PL) scored 10 points in the first quarter and extended a one-point halftime lead to eight with a key 14-play, 94-yard drive that concluded with an 11-yard Jo’el Kimpela touchdown run just under two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Nitti became just the second Buknell (3-4, 0-2 PL) quarterback in the last 20 years to throw for 300 yards in a game. His 338 passing yards are the sixth-most in program history and helped move him into 10th place on the school’s all-time list with 3,366 yards.
Carter’s 12 catches are the most by any Bison player since Jim Horan had 12 receptions in 2001. The only player with more than 12 catches in a game is Tom Mithchell, who had 13 receptions in a 1964 win at Harvard.
Kaslander had five catches for 100 yards, marking his first 100-yard receiving performance since 2013. His biggest catch went for 36 yards and helped lead to Bucknell’s second-quarter field goal, a career-long 38-yarder by John Burdick that made the score 10-9.
Williams missed the last two games with an injury but returned to post his 12th career 100-yard rushing outing with 103 yards on 26 carries. He ranks sixth in program history with 2,313 rushing yards, and is tied with Jabu Powell for the third-most number of 100-yard games.
All those offensive numbers added up to Bucknell holding a 412-288 edge in total offense and a dominating 36:57-23:03 advantage in time of possession thanks to an 87-58 difference in offensive plays. The Bison also won the turnover battle, 2-1.
But, Bucknell was just 7-for-23 on third and fourth downs, and scored only one time on four trips inside the Georgetown 20-yard line.
Ben Schumacher and Connor Golden led the Bison defense with seven tackles and one sack apiece. Bucknell, which also received interceptions from Bryan Marine and Colin Jonov, allowed Georgetown just one drive over three plays over the final two-and-one-half quarters.
Sixteen of the game’s 26 points were scored on the first four drives of the game.
The Bison offense was in gear early, moving 49 yards on nine plays on the opening drive of the game.
However, Nitti threw an interception and the Hoyas ended up with a 22-yard field goal by Henry Darmstadter following a 51-yard interception return by Blaise Brown.
Bucknell answered right back and took its only lead of the contest when it marched 75 yards on 10 plays capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Nitti, his fifth rushing TD of the season. The drive started with back-to-back long gains on passes to Andrew Podbielski (23 yards) and Carter (24 yards). Burdick’s extra point was no good and the Bison held a 6-3 lead.
Georgetown then re-took the lead for good on its next possession when quarterback Kyle Nolan completed a 40-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hill on a 3rd-and-21 play.
The only other points for the Bison came midway through the second quarter when Burdick connected on his fourth field goal this year. His previous long had been 30 yards, but he made it from 38 to make it 10-9.
The score stayed that way until Hoyas’ backup quarterback Tim Barnes engineering a 14-play, 94-yard touchdown drive. Georgetown converted on three third downs on the drive that concluded with Kimpela’s touchdown. The senior running back had a game-high 142 yards rushing on the day, including 16 on the drive.
Bucknell still had a chance to tie the score with a touchdown and a two-point conversion and it had some chances in the second half of the fourth quarter.
Following Jonov’s interception at midfield, the Bison advanced down to the Georgetown 12-yard line, needing a 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak from Nitti to keep the drive alive. However, Matt Satchell and Jethro Francois sacked Nitti for a loss of 19 yards on a 4th-and-five play.
Thanks to use of its timeouts, Bucknell forced the Hoyas to use just 24 seconds on their next possession before punting. The Bison took over at their own 24-yard line with 1:57 to play.
One sack and two incomplete passes later Bucknell was in a 4th-and-long situation and Nitti found Matthew Jegede for a 59-yard completion down the right sideline. It was the longest pass play by the Bison this season and moved Bucknell within striking range.
The Bison got down as far as the 15-yard line and were able to take some chances in the end zone, but were unable to convert and they ended up turning the ball over on downs.
Nolan started the game at quarterback for Georgetown and played into the second half. He was 9-for-17 for 94 yards and the touchdown to Hill.
Barnes replaced him and was 6-for-12 for 62 yards in a reserve role. Hill had seven catches for 114 yards and he was Nolan’s favorite target, grabbing each of his first five completions.
The Hoyas had four players in double figures in tackles, led by Matt Satchell’s 18. Georgetown posted four sacks and nine tackles for loss as they won in Lewisburg for the first time since 2007.
Bucknell, which plays three of its last four games on the road, will travel to Lafayette next Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. game. The Bison defeated the Leopards 27-24 in overtime last November.