GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Senior quarterback Justin Decristofaro passed for 282 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for three additional TDs as Ursinus College stayed undefeated, topping host Gettysburg College 49-39 in a Centennial Conference tilt and the Bullets Homecoming at Shirk Field at Musselman Stadium.
Ursinus (5-0, 4-0 CC) trailed 27-21 at halftime before outscoring Gettysburg 28-12 in the second half.
It was the second year in a row that the two teams exchanged in a shootout. Last season, Ursinus defeated Gettysburg 55-50 in game that set Centennial Conference records for combined points and combined total yards (1,317). This season, the two sides racked up 742 total yards, with the Bears holding a 409-333 advantage.
Freshman tailback Bryan Ellis rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown for the Bears while junior receiver Al Desiderio caught four passes for 124 yards and TDs of 53 and 60 yards. Freshman receiver Jerry Rahill caught five passes for 81 yards for Ursinus, which milked the clock for 11:42 in the fourth quarter.
Junior quarterback Kyle Whitmoyer paced Gettysburg (1-3, 0-3 CC), rushing for 62 yards and two touchdowns while passing for 189 yards and two TDs.
Sophomore linebacker Larry DelViscio had a big game defensively, leading all players with 14 tackles while adding a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery for the Bullets. Senior Brian Betley enjoyed a great day punting, allowing only one of his six kicks to be returned while averaging 43.8 yards per attempt.
The Bullets never trailed in the opening half after going up 7-0 on the opening drive, which was sparked by a 71-yard kickoff return from senior Anthony DeSalva. Senior tailback Jamel Mutunga finished it off with a 9-yard touchdown run, then gave his team a 14-7 lead later in the quarter on a 29-yard catch-and-run TD reception.
Desiderio pulled in his first touchdown catch of the day – a 53-yarder – late in the quarter and it was a 14-14 game after 15 minutes of play.
After senior Mike Barrett drilled through a 36-yard field goal early in the second quarter, the two teams traded turnovers that resulted in a 1-yard scoring drive for each side. First, the Bears fumbled a booming 54-yard punt from Betley, which was recovered by DelViscio at the Ursinus-1. Whitmoyer scored on the next play to make it 24-14 with 6:39 left in the opening half.
After Gettysburg forced Ursinus to punt on its third straight possession, junior safety Joe Henry intercepted a pass and returned it 31 yards to the Bullet-1. Decristofaro then scored his second rushing TD of the game as the Bears pulled to within 24-21 with 3:58 on the clock.
Barrett converted a 27-yard field goal with six ticks showing to give Gettysburg its six-point halftime lead. It would become the second game in a row that Barrett would finish with two field goals.
Ursinus went on top to stay after a Kahlil Pittman 26-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter that made it 28-27. Pittman's dash kicked off a 21-0 Ursinus run that included a Desiderio's 60-yard TD grab and a 5-yard scoring jaunt from Ellis with 12:42 left in the game that made it 42-27.
In the meantime, the Bear defense, which entered the game leading the Centennial Conference and ranked sixth in Division III (6.8 ppg), held the Bullets in check, as Gettysburg managed just 39 yards on its first five possessions of the second half. The Bullets punted on their first three drives before junior defensive end Sean Whelan forced a fumble on a sack, which was recovered by senior nose tackle Dave Queroli at the Gettysburg-34, leading to Ellis' TD run.
The Bullets turned it over on downs on their fifth drive of the half before forcing a punt. Whitmoyer then cut the deficit to 42-33 with a 12-yard touchdown run with 8:42 left, but a botched extra point that led to an incomplete two-point conversion pass kept it a two-possession game.
The Bears went on to chew up 6:21 off the clock on a 13-play, 65-yard scoring drive, culminating in Decristofaro's third touchdown. The march was kept alive by a big Gettysburg offsides penalty on a fourth-and-one at the Ursinus-44 and a pair of third-down conversions.
The Bullets would not go quietly, however, and sophomore receiver Kyle Davis made it a 10-point game with a 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:15 to go. But the two-point conversion pass was no good, and Ursinus recovered the on-side kick before running out the rest of the clock.
Contributing nine tackles apiece for Gettysburg were junior linebacker Marc Graziano, junior linebacker Peter Hak, sophomore linebacker Mark Covington, and junior safety Joe Delaney. Junior cornerback Rob Pennella broke up three passes.
Junior safety Shane Eachus led Ursinus with seven tackles.