SELINSGROVE, Pa. – Apparently the Susquehanna football team likes to give its fans their money’s worth as the Crusaders yet again prevailed in the final seconds of a game, this time pulling off a 20-18 win over Centennial Conference opponent Dickinson on Homecoming Weekend.
For the second time this season, freshman kicker Spencer Hotaling (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) booted the game-winning score, this time a 19-yard field goal with one second on the clock to hand SU (2-1, 1-1) a hard-earned conference victory, as well as its second-straight home victory. Hotaling’s kick came two weeks after he knocked the overtime game winner against Wilkes.
Quarterback Rich Palazzi (Newfoundland, Pa./Wallenpaupack) started and finished the game, going 6-for-14 for 64 yards but was knocked out for most of the first through third quarters. Senior classmate Matt Lottes (Muttontown, N.Y./Long Island Lutheran) took over behind center and put together a 93-yard passing performance with one touchdown on 11 completions and 18 attempts.
SU had a balanced rushing and receiving attack with 168 and 162 net yards, respectively. Greg Tellish (Mount Airy, Md./South Carroll) carried the ball an impressive 36 times for 153 yards and one score while Matt Knouse (Elliotsburg, Pa./West Perry) caught five balls for a team-high 78 yards. Mike Ritter (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) accounted for his team’s other touchdown as he racked up 44 yards on seven catches.
It didn’t take long for SU to get on the board as Lottes and Ritter hooked up with 4:25 on the clock in the first quarter for an eight-yard touchdown reception and an early seven-point lead.
Dickinson was able to put three points on the board courtesy of a David London 26-yard field goal early in the second quarter but the Crusaders responded with a seven-minute drive that was capped off by a nine-yard Tellish score for a 14-3 SU advantage.
The Red Devils closed out the half on a 45-yard scoring pass from Todd Smolinksy to Tyler Rosa but a fumbled extra point attempt kept it a 14-9 score at halftime.
Dickinson scored the lone points of the third quarter when Smolinsky found Cam Di Fede for a seven-yard score that made it 15-14 in favor of the Red Devils.
Again SU responded with a score of its own on a Hotaling 33-yarder that temporarily handed the lead back to the Crusaders (17-15).
Unfortunately London countered with a 33-yard field goal of his own as his squad regained an 18-17 lead with 6:32 on the clock.
While there was plenty of time on the clock for both teams to continue putting points on the board, SU was able to take over possession for the remainder of the game thanks to a 15-play, 64-yard drive. On third and goal and just seconds left to play, Tellish rushed for three yards to get first-down yardage and run the clock down to one second, thus setting Hotaling up for the 19-yard field goal which he drilled through the uprights.
Defensively, Susquehanna had contributions all over the field. Senior Todge Aumiller (Lewistown, Pa./Indian Valley) led all SU players with 10 tackles (six solo, four assisted), while rookie Jared Minori (Tyrone, Pa./Bellwood-Antis) had eight tackles, a half sack and a half TFL. Jack McCarty (Westminster, Md./South Carroll) accounted for the Crusaders’ interception against Smolinsky while also adding in three solo tackles.
The Crusaders hit the road for back-to-back games, beginning next weekend with a 1 p.m. game at Gettysburg.
Football Pulls Off Another Last-Second Victory