– Wet and slippery conditions led to nine total fumbles in the contest, but eventually Susquehanna University found a way through the weather to pull away from Gettysburg College for a 27-9 decision in Centennial Conference football action at Alonzo Stagg Field on Saturday.
Yardage was a commodity in the first half as the two teams attempted to find traction on the rain-soaked turf. After missing a 49-yard field goal early in the contest, junior Justin Geisel
(Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day School) put Gettysburg (1-7, 1-6 CC) on the board with a 34-yarder with 7:27 to go in the period.
Susquehanna (5-3, 4-3 CC) made the most of a bad snap by the Bullets, recovering the ball on the one yard-line and then scoring the only touchdown of the opening half on a rush by Aaron Speight with 39 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Gettysburg looked to take advantage of prime field position in the second quarter after a muffed punt by the River Hawks. The drive stalled and Geisel's attempt at the first 50-yard field goal in school history was blocked and recovered by the hosts.
The two teams combined for just 132 yards of total offense in the opening half as Susquehanna took a 7-3 lead into the break.
The River Hawks scored the first points of the second half following a fumble by the Bullets, the first of three lost fumbles in the quarter by the visitors. Michael Ruisch polished off the drive with a 13-yard rush to push the lead to 14-3. Ruisch added a 27-yard pass to Mikah Christian to push the advantage to 20-3 early in the fourth quarter.
Gettysburg capitalized on its own takeaway later in the period. Junior Joey LaMore
(Millersville, Md./Archbishop Spalding) forced and recovered a fumble and ran it back 26 yards to set up the offense deep in River Hawk territory. Junior Andrew Howard
(Swansea, Mass./Moses Brown School) scored a touchdown for the third consecutive game to slice Susquehanna's lead down to 20-9 with 10:47 left.
The Bullets recovered another fumble on a botched punt return by Susquehanna, but the River Hawks defense knocked the visitors back six yards on the possession. The hosts came right back with a quick drive ending with a 36-yard dash to the end zone by Da'Avian Ellington to finish the scoring with 5:21 to play.
Senior Nick Rella
(Denville, N.J./Morristown-Beard) led the ground game with 52 yards, while Howard finished with 48 yards. Freshman Matt Lajoie
(Mount Laurel, N.J./Lenape) caught five passes for 52 yards. Sophomore Mike Welsh
(Medford, N.J./Shawnee) started the game at quarterback, but was replaced in the first quarter after a hard hit on a 10-yard rush. Sophomore Ryan Finlay
(Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) came in relief and threw 10 passes for 61 yards.
Senior defensive end Logan Aikey
(Lewisburg, Pa./Lewisburg) racked up four tackles for a loss, including two sacks for the Gettysburg defense. The senior leads the conference in tackles for a loss and has tied his own program single-season record with 17.5 this fall. Seniors Mike McKnight
(West Chester, Pa./Bayard Rustin) and Jake Skinner
(Annapolis, Md./Broadneck) each tallied six tackles with the latter posting two for a loss and a sack.
Ruisch finished 12-of-21 for 104 yards, while Speight and Ellington posted 54 and 47 rushing yards, respectively. Cole Dixon posted 19 tackles, including five for a loss and a sack to lead the River Hawk defense.
Gettysburg heads to Muhlenberg College (7-1, 6-1 CC) to face the Mules next Saturday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m. It will be the 83rd meeting all-time between the two institutions and Gettysburg holds a 43-38-1 lead. The winner will claim the rights to the Old Tin Cup.