COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College football team brought the thunder on a rainy afternoon and celebrated Homecoming by earning its first victory of the season, defeating Susquehanna 31-24 on Saturday. The Bears built a commanding 31-3 lead at halftime and the defense made big stops late in the game to come away with the victory.
Freshman quarterback Thomas Garlick was named the recipient of the Kenneth E. Walker Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who displayed great sportsmanship and athletic ability in the Homecoming game. The trophy has been handed out to student-athletes since the 1957 season in honor of the former Bear football player. Garlick completed 18 of 31 pass attempts for 186 yards and a touchdown, adding an additional 101 yards and a score on the ground.
After punting away their first two possessions, Garlick drove the Bears (1-6, 1-5) 73 yards down the field and capped the drive with a 10-yard rushing score to take an early 7-3 lead. Garlick connected with junior Carmen Fortino three times on the drive for a total of 36 yards. Fortino led all recievers with nine catches and 95 yards on the day, giving him an even 50 receptions this season; the junior is already just the sixth player in program history to reach that number.
Susquehanna fumbled on its next possession and set the Bears up with perfect field position at the River Hawks 26. After a pass to Fortino brought them to the 13-yard line, Gardner ran for his first touchdown of the day. In less than two minutes the Bears turned a three-to-nothing deficit into a two-possession game.
After forcing a punt, Garlick and the offense marched for 80 yards and a score. The quarterback finished the drive by finding junior Shawn Hackett in the back of the end zone for a 28-yard score. Hackett displayed tremendous athleticism and body control in not only coming down with the catch, but also managing to keep a foot inbounds on a highly contested ball.
The momentum continued as the Bears defense forced another fumble that would result in a Nicholas Ford field goal and a 24-3 lead with little over four minutes remaining in the half. The Ursinus defense gave up a significant amount of yards and points in the second half, but did not relent and made big stops late to hold onto the lead. The Bears came away with three fumbles and clinched the game with an interception by freshman Jack Spingler late in the fourth quarter.
The defense line was susccessful at getting to the Susquehanna quarterback, harassing him with four sacks for a total loss of 38 yards. One of those sacks, by junior Heath Hidlay, led to a fumble that was recovered by senior linebacker Tim Rafter.
Senior Hunter Bednarczyk made history early in the fourth quarter, booting a wind-blown 78-yard punt that broke a Centennial Conference record (76) which had stood since 1992.