Senior Cameron Ott rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns while fellow senior Nick Crusco was 19-for-26 for 206 yards and accounted for two more scores as the Susquehanna University Football team rebounded for a 33-10 victory over McDaniel College in a Centennial Conference game Saturday on Amos Alonzo Stagg Field in Selinsgrove.
Susquehanna (6-3 overall, 5-3 Centennial) scored a touchdown in each of the first three quarters and added two insurance scores in the fourth quarter for the win. The victory was the seventh consecutive win following a loss since 2015. The River Hawks lost a disappointing game last weekend at Gettysburg but rebounded for an emotional win over McDaniel to keep their postseason hopes alive.
A win on the final game of the regular season next week at Juniata would put Susquehanna in a position to play in one of the Centennial-MAC Challenge games one week after the regular season.
After Mikah Christian returned the opening kickoff 32 yards to give Susquehanna good field position, Ott and Crusco led the offense down the field quickly for the first score. Ott had a pair of short runs in the drive and capped it off with a powerful 32-yard run around the left side and down the sideline for a TD and the early lead. The extra point attempt rattled off the upright and Susquehanna had a 6-0 lead 1:38 into the contest.
The teams traded punts for most of the rest of the first quarter before McDaniel (3-6, 2-6) trimmed the lead with a 37-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Crusco led the team into McDaniel territory but the drive stalled at the 27-yard line. The River Hawks lined up in an offensive formation but Crusco punted the ball and it was downed inside the five-yard line to pin the Green Terror deep in their own zone.
After a three-and-out dive, the River Hawks used the running talent of Luke Robertson to pick up 14 yards on three carries to start the drive and Crusco found tight end Anthony McCoy for a 15-yard TD pass as Susquehanna took a 13-3 lead.
Neither team was able to score for the remainder of the first half.
In the second half, McDaniel came out quickly and cut into the Susquehanna lead with the first drive of the half. The Green Terror used a pair of completed passes at the end of the drive and scored on a 21-yard TD pass and catch to make it a 13-10 game, 1:37 into the third quarter.
Susquehanna answered quickly to regain control as Crusco engineered a quick five-play scoring drive that featured a 33-yard run by Ott and a pair of passes to Mitch Carsley – one for 10 yards and the second for 16 yards that ended at the McDaniel three-yard line. Crusco carried it in from there and the River Hawks regained the double-digit lead at 20-10.
McDaniel answered with a long drive down the field and looked like they were going to cut into the lead again but on a third-and-goal from the three-yard line a pass toward the end zone was intercepted at the goal line by Devin Lindeman who plays both offensive and defensive line for the River Hawks to stop the drive.
At the end of the third quarter, McDaniel punted from its own 17 to midfield and Terrell Brown broke off a 43-yard return and was pushed out of bounds at the nine-yard line. Two plays later, early in the fourth quarter, Ott punched it in from three yards out to give the River Hawks a 26-10 advantage.
The Susquehanna defense held McDaniel to another three-and-out drive with the help of a Connor Thompson and David Simpson sack on a 3rd-and-13 play to give the River Hawks good field position again.
After a pair of no gain runs, Crusco found Brown for a big 39-yard gain and then connected with Tommy Bluj for another 11 yards and completed his next pass to Ott for a 14-yard gain to take the ball down to the one-yard line. Ott pushed it in from there as Susquehanna took the 33-10 lead.
The River Hawks cruised to the win solid defense including a forced fumble by senior Kyle Micik that was recovered by Mark Ferris on the final McDaniel drive to seal the victory.
The River Hawks finished with 385 yards of total offense and limited McDaniel to 228 yards including just 53 yards of rushing offense.
Cole Dixon and Thompson led the defense with nine tackles each while Danial Shelton and Noah Schraier had seven stops each. Shelton led the team with a pair of pass breakups.
Susquehanna will finish the regular season next weekend at Juniata with the annual battle for the Goal Post Trophy.