Devils Start Strong, Finish Strong to Beat Crusaders 28-24
(Selinsgrove, Pa.) – The Dickinson College football team jumped out to an early lead, then battled back to overtake host Susquehanna University, 28-24, on Saturday afternoon. In a game where both teams were looking for their second win, the Red Devils forced three turnovers in the second half to lead the way as they improve to 2-4 overall and 2-3 in the Centennial Conference.
Junior quarterback Jordan Kaufman (Somerset, Pa./Somerset) turned in a great performance in his second start, completing 12-of-18 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 43 yards on the day. Senior Tim Smith (Hanover, Pa./South Western) ran for 92 yards on 18 carries and caught five passes for an additional 82 yards, scoring twice in the win.
The Red Devils capitalized early, following a Susquehanna fumble forced by Scott Sullivan (Coatesville, Pa./Bishop Shanahan) on the Crusader's first possession. The Devils put three points on the board as senior Gordon Craig (Grove City, Pa./Grove City) kicked a 42-yard field-goal with 10:54 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Devil defense held on fourth-down, taking over at their own 31 yard line on the next possession. Smith capped a six-play, 69-yard drive, scoring from 11 yards out to put Dickinson in front 9-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Devils forced Susquehanna to punt, taking over on the 25 yard line. They moved the ball to the Crusader 20, where Craig would hit a 37-yard field-goal to stretch the lead to 12-0, early in the second period.
Susquehanna would find some life at the end of the half, adding a field-goal and a remarkable touchdown catch from Mike Ritter in the back of the end zone. Bobby Eppleman hit a 32-yard field-goal with 7:33 to play in the half and Rich Palazzi tossed the 20-yard strike to Ritter with 1:06 on the clock.
The third quarter essentially belonged to Susquehanna. The Crusaders came out of halftime and forced the Devils to punt. A penalty would spot the ball on the SU nine yard line. Palazzi drove the Crusaders into Dickinson territory where Greg Tellish found pay-dirt from five yards out to give the hosts a 16-12 lead with 8:19 to play in the quarter. The Devils blocked the extra-point, holding the score at 16-12.
Following another Dickinson punt, Susquehanna would find some luck as Connor McGrath fumbled on the goal line, but had the ball recovered by offensive lineman Joe Oldziejewsi in the end zone for a touchdown. Palazzi connected with Ritter for a two-point conversion to put Susquehanna in front, 24-12 with just over three minutes to play in the third.
The tide would turn in the fourth quarter as the Devils picked-off Palazzi three times. The Devils let time run out in the third quarter to put the wind at the back of Craig, who kicked a 39-yard field-goal with 14:53 remaining in the game.
Sullivan added to the rally, intercepting a pass at the SU 44-yard line. Jordan finished a three-play drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Craig Helfer (W. Caldwell, N.J./Newark Academy) with 11:48 on the clock. Pete Hamill (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East) made an interception just minutes later, again at the Susquehanna 44-yard line with the Devils trailing, 24-22.
The Crusaders would dodge a bullet momentarily, intercepting Kaufman on the goal line. Dickinson held and forced SU to punt, taking over on their own 46 yard line. This time Kaufman connected with a wide open Tim Smith for a 45-yard touchdown pass to put Dickinson back on top, 28-24. The Devils went to a two-point conversion but were stopped short of the goal line.
Susquehanna took possession with 4:49 on the clock and moved the ball all the way to the Dickinson 24 yard line. Palazzi went to Ritter in the end zone but could not connect. However, an interference call on the Devils gave SU a first-down on the nine. On what looked like almost the same play, sophomore Pat McBreen (Schuylkill Haven, Pa./Schuylkill Haven) came up big with an interception in the end zone to secure the win for Dickinson.
The Red Devils received outstanding play from the offensive line all afternoon, totaling 485 yards of offense on the day. The Devils rushed for 255 yards and added 230 yards through the air. Junior Cam Di Fede (Miami, Fla./Palmer Trinity) also had a big day, covering 73 yards on three catches.
Sullivan finished with a team-high 10 tackles to go with the forced fumble and interception. Julian Rosen (Brecksville, Ohio/Ohio University School) added nine stops while Pat McNeal (Glen Mills, Pa./Archmere Academy) and Kevin Wood (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) each recorded eight tackles.
Gordon Craig tied Joel Heintzelman's school record for field-goals, hitting the 33rd of his career.
The Red Devils (2-4, 2-3) return home for a Friday night match-up with Gettysburg next week. Kick-off is set for 7:00 pm at Biddle Field.