By Greg Stevenson
Taking the field at Duquesne last Saturday night with a new face calling plays, the Bison football team struggled to get its offense going, falling to the Dukes 17-13 in a hard-fought season opener.
“On offense, we must be able to run the ball better, especially early in the game,” Head Coach Joe Susan said. “We need to settle some personnel issues that will enable us to develop more consistency.”
In Susan’s first contest as head coach for the Orange and Blue, the Bison offense, headed Brandon Wesley ’14, could not find much in the way of points. The offense scored only twice, both times off field goals. Wesley completed 12 of 21 passes for 81 yards and rushed for another 48.
Duquesne capitalized in the first quarter, putting together a four-play, 40-yard drive that ended with Dukes quarterback Sean Patterson running in an eight-yard touchdown. Bison Kicker Drew Orth ’12 knocked home his first of two field goals midway through the second quarter, cutting the Duquesne lead to 7-3, which the Dukes kept into halftime.
The signature play for the Bison came five minutes into the second half. After the Dukes upped their lead to 10-3 with a field goal, Tyler Smith ’13 took the kickoff 89 yards to the end zone to tie the score at 10. Smith’s pivotal kickoff return earned him Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week.
The Dukes did not wait long to regain the lead. Patterson drove his team 74 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, scoring on a nine-yard pass to Dave Williams. Orth kicked another field goal with ten minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, cutting the Dukes’ advantage to four.
The Dukes’ defense held on a fourth-and-two with less than two minutes left.
Despite the offensive struggles for the Orange and Blue, the defense came through, limiting the Dukes to 267 yards and just 115 in the second half.
“Other than the first drive, we played physical on defense,” Susan said. “Our front four was good against the run most of the night. We need to be able to create more QB pressure with four-man rush. We had a chance to stop them late in the game and potentially get the ball back to our offense. We did not and they were able to run the clock out.”
In a rematch of last season’s dramatic 17-16 Orange and Blue victory, the team will head to Marist this Saturday at 6 p.m. to take on the Red Foxes.
“As we approach this weekend against Marist there is a lot of similarity in the schemes they utilize so there will be carryover,” Susan said. “We need to focus on ourselves and work to get better.”