Carter helps Bucknell football win

LEWISBURG — Will Carter is one of the best wide receivers in the Patriot League and possibly the best in the history of Bucknell football as he is the program’s all-time leader in receiving yards with 2,522 and its all-time receptions leader with 180. But Saturday afternoon at Christy Mathewson Stadium, Carter turned into a dangerous rusher.

Carter had two rushing touchdowns, one in each half, as Bucknell won its first home game of the season as it defeated Lafayette, 42-17, on a windy goal post-shaking and flag-whipping homecoming on Saturday afternoon.

“I think I could’ve run the first one in and I’m a lot slower then Will,” Bucknell coach Joe Susan said with a laugh. “Will is so smooth as an athlete. He actually was trying to get us to run him on the toss play; we’re not going to do that. But the (pro) scouts that come to see (tackle) Julie’n (Davenport), are very interested in Will too.”

Each rushing touchdown, a 17-yarder in the first quarter and a 10-yarder in the third quarter, was the same play. A bunch formation of a tight end, a fullback and Carter lined up on the left side of the offensive line. Carter is sent in motion and as soon as he starts to move, quarterback R.J. Nitti takes the snap and fakes a toss to the running back before tossing it to Carter. Each touchdown Carter was untouched as Lafayette was caught off guard.

Bucknell welcomed back its original starting quarterback in Nitti. The senior has missed the last four weeks with an injury and he was filled in by Matt Muh, who injured his MCL last week and freshman John Chiarolanzio. Nitti, who has the second most passing touchdowns in program history, was a bit shaky in his first action in over a month as he completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw an interception that set up a Lafayette touchdown that made it 21-17. But his experience is very valuable and his IQ allows him to help the rushing game as it had 259 yards.

“(Safety) Connor Golden came back after missing four games, same thing with R.J. So you’re going to get some, I don’t like to call it rust but they haven’t played football in a long time. …I think he managed the offense well. He threw a couple of key screens. A lot of what we do, he does it at the line of scrimmage. He’s making the choices in the run game. … It’s good to have him back, he’s another senior.”

On a windy day when passing was difficult and kicking was nearly impossible, the offensive line and run game needed to have a big day, and it did. Joey DeFloria had his fourth 100-yard game of the season, running for 133 yards, 103 in the second half. Chad Freshnock came off the bench to rush for 81 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns. The team averaged 4.4 yards per carry and rushed for 193 second-half yards.

“Big tribute to the offensive line, those guys played well,” Susan said. “Joe and Chad, they both are different runners but they are two guys that are hard to tackle, Chad and his physicality and Joe with his quickness. It’s good to have (both).”

After Lafayette cut an 18-point lead down to 21-17, the Bison defense tightened up, led by Abdullah Anderson (eight tackles, two sacks) and Danville graduate Bret Berg (three tackles, two pass breakups, interception). Berg also punted, averaging 37-yards per punt and he even had a nine-yard rush on a fake punt that set up the game-clinching touchdown.

“I think Bret Berg is the best player on our team for all the things that he does as a safety and now we put him in as a punter. He’s so poised out there,” Susan said. “He made the right choice when he ran. I told him, ‘If you run, you have better gotten the first down.’ He came back and shook my hand. I actually nodded to him on that, I’m not sure if he thought that was the signal to go ahead and do it. I wanted him to kick it out of bounds is what I wanted him to do to keep the field position but he is so football-savvy that he’s not going to make the wrong decision.”