SELINSGROVE, Pa. – In a game that featured only 10 first-half points, the Susquehanna football team put together a 34-point second half to pull away from visiting Merchant Marine Academy and win 37-21.
Senior Mike Ritter (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) was on the receiving end of two Mark Rosenbaum (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) touchdowns while the SU defense added two scores of its own in what turned out to be a well-rounded performance for the Crusaders (1-0).
Susquehanna had 146 yards on the ground, 218 on the air and held the Mariners (0-1) to just 299 total yards of offense and only three passing first downs all game.
Freshman Tim Wade (Doylestown, Pa./La Salle College HS) led the running game, rushing for 90 yards on 12 carries with one score. Ritter finished with 69 yards on six catches, including the two touchdowns.
Rosenbaum, making his first collegiate start, threw for 218 yards on 15 completions and tossed just one pick.
Defensively, Jack McCarty (Westminster, Md./South Carroll) and Jalon Scott (Albany, N.Y./Albany) both added defensive scores which were the final two scoring plays of the game for SU and capped off the come-from-behind victory. McCarty’s came off a fumble recovery while Scott found the end zone following an interception.
Adrian Bernard (East Stroudsburg, Pa./Pius X) led the squad with 11 total tackles, including three for a loss, and had two forced fumbles.
The first half did not feature a tremendous amount of offense. In fact, it remained scoreless until well into the second quarter when Merchant Marine’s Michael Biehn blocked a punt and returned it to the endzone for a Mariners touchdown.
It seemed as if SU would go into halftime down 7-0 until a last-second penalty against Merchant Marine gave the Crusaders one last possession with the ball. With that extra time, Spencer Hotaling (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) booted a 31-yard field goal through the uprights as time wound down to make it 7-3.
In that first half, Susquehanna limited Merchant Marine to just 15 passing yards and all seven of the Mariners’ first downs came on rushing plays. SU meanwhile had just 34 yards on the ground but 85 through the air.
The second half was a different story. It took Susquehanna just over five minutes to score a touchdown as Ritter caught a two-yard pass from Rosenbaum and Hotaling made the extra point for a 14-10 SU lead.
The Mariners countered three minutes later to go up 21-17 before Susquehanna scored 20 straight points to cap off the game.
Ritter’s second TD of the evening made it a 24-21 Crusaders lead and McCarty’s fumble recovery for a score and Scott’s interception return were the icing the cake, sealing the 37-21 SU win.
Susquehanna remains at home next weekend to host Johns Hopkins at 1 p.m.