Courtesy of Bucknell Athletics
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sean Rafferty returned an interception 12 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give Bucknell a 24-21 lead and the Bison held on for the victory Saturday afternoon at Multi-Sport Field as neither team scored the rest of the way. The win was the first of the year for Bucknell, which is now 1-0 in Patriot League play and 1-5 overall. The Bison are tied for first place in the Patriot League with Colgate.
The game featured a number of momentum shifts as the teams alternated scores throughout. Despite that, Bucknell, which snapped a 10-game road losing streak, led or was tied for all but 2:31 after scoring first early in the second quarter.
Bison quarterback Brandon Wesley completed 11 of 21 passes for 111 yards, giving him a Bucknell freshman-record 881 on the season. Tyler Smith rushed 18 times for 59 yards and returned two kicks for 97 yards, lifting his season total to 548, good for sixth on the program’s single-season list.
Georgetown (3-4, 2-2 PL) failed to convert a fourth down pass from the Bucknell 30-yard line with just over three minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The Bison managed one first down and were able to run out the clock, clinching their first road victory since a win at Georgetown in 2008.
The Hoyas took their first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter on a 43-yard pass from Isaiah Kempf to Max Waizenegger. Rafferty came through with his second interception in as many weeks on Georgetown’s next drive following a career-long 60-yard punt by Ryan Gutowski.
Bucknell went on the board first in the second quarter when Smith dove across the goal line on a seven-yard option run. The 7-play, 46-yard drive had a number of highlights, including a 26-yard option pass from wide receiver Frank DeNick to Smith. The Bison initially took possession near nidfield after a high snap on a punt rolled nearly 40 yards over the head of punter Matt MacZura, leading to a -3-yard punt. Travis Friend also pushed through the line for a first down on a 4th-and-1 immediately preceeding DeNick’s completion to Smith.
Less than five minutes later Georgetown took advantage of excellent field position after a fumble by Wesley on at the Bucknell 13-yard line. Scott Darby found John O’Leary from 10 yards out as he lofted a pass into the back left corner of the end zone, completing the short three-play drive.
The Bison answered back on their next possession with Wesley connecting with Victor Walker on a 14-yard pass over the middle. It was the first career touchdown reception for Walker, who now has a team-high 247 receiving yards on the season. A long 38-yard scramble by Wesley set up the touchdown. Wesley dropped back to pass on a 1st-and-25 and was quickly surrounded by three Georgetown defenders. The slippery freshman eluded at least three tacklers before breaking into open field down the right sideline.
Bucknell’s 14-7 halftime advantage marked its second halftime lead of the year, following its 20-9 advantage last month vs. Dartmouth.
Isaiah Kempf, who threw for 241 of his 252 yards in the second half in relief of starter Scott Darby, connected with Patrick Ryan on a 32-yard touchdown pass five minutes into the second half to tie the score at 14-14. The drive took just four plays to cover 72 yards.
Smith, who returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown in the season opener at Duquesne, nearly duplicated that feat on the ensuing kickoff when he broke off a 76-yard return, giving the Bison the ball at the 13-yard line. Three plays later freshman Alex Eckard connected on a 26-yard field goal, giving Bucknell a 17-14 advantage midway through the third period.
Bucknell picked up its first win since the 2009 season finale despite accumulating 223 of its 266 total yards in the first half. The Bison also dominated in time of possession, 38:44-21:16.
Bucknell, which was converting just 25 percent of third downs entering the contest, was successful on 8 of 17 third downs. Georgetown was just 5 of 14.
Josh Eden led the Bison with five tackles, including one for loss. Bucknell totaled six tackles for loss, while Georgetown posted eight.
Kempf led the Hoyas in both passing (252) and rushing (27).
Saturday’s contest marked the fourth time in the last six meetings a Bucknell-Georgetown game has been decided by exactly three points.
Bucknell will aim for its first two-game winning streak since last year next week when it travels to Lehigh for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.