SELINSGROVE, Pa. – The 2015 Susquehanna football season started with a handful of firsts as SU defeated visiting Lycoming 28-13: the first win of the season, the first win for first-year head coach Tom Perkovich, the first season-opening win since 2012 and the first win over Lycoming since 2007.
With the victory, Susquehanna won this year's battle for the Stagg Hat Trophy, a series which began in 1960 and ran until 1978 before being resumed in 2009.
The Warriors (0-1) – who received votes in the national Division III preseason poll – opened the game with an efficient, 12-play, 65-yard run but the Crusaders (1-0) countered with a scoring drive of its own, capped off by a rushing touchdown by Kris Stern (Duncansville, Pa./Hollidaysburg Area), to tie the game at seven and spark what was ultimately a 28-0 Susquehanna drive.
SU's offense finished with 259 passing yards as Nick Crusco (Oak Ridge, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) went 21-for-35 for 231 yards with two touchdowns. Classmate Matt Thies (North Caldwell, N.J./West Essex) came in for a series after Crusco was briefly knocked out of the game and threw one touchdown on two completions for 28 yards.
Patrick Cutillo (Glenmoore, Pa./Downingtown West) led the receiving game with seven catches for 57 yards and one touchdown. Crusco had a team-high 36 rushing yards.
Defensively, Lycoming was blanked in the second and third quarters and limited to a mere 156 passing yards. Tom McLoughlin (Bloomsbury, N.J./Bethlehem Catholic) was all over the field, racking up 14 tackles (10 solo), one tackle for loss, one pick and one block. SU combined for three sacks with Kyle Micik (Seven Valleys, Pa./Spring Grove) accounting for two of them.
After Lycoming marched down the field to take that 7-0 lead at the 10-minute mark of the quarter, Susquehanna responded with a five-play, 45-yard drive later in the quarter that was capped off by Stern's rushing touchdown to make it 7-7.
Just three minutes into the second quarter, the Crusaders got the ball at the Lycoming 18-yard line after C.J. Williams (Burlington, N.J./Perkiomen School) recovered a Blake Bowman fumble. What proceeded was a three-play, 18-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown pass from Crusco to Cameron Ott (Montoursville, Pa./Montoursville Area) that snapped the tie and put the Crusaders ahead 14-7.
Toward the end of the opening half, Susquehanna drove nearly the entire length of the field, putting together a 16-play, 98-yard scoring drive. On 3-and-11, Crusco found Cutillo for a 17-yard score and a 14-point SU lead (21-7).
It remained 21-7 at the half after McLoughlin intercepted Warriors quarterback Chase Whiteman on 1-and-20 in Crusader territory with just seconds left in the quarter.
SU tacked on an insurance touchdown midway through the third quarter when Thies found Diamente Holloway (Washington, D.C./Sidwell Friends) in the near corner of the endzone on his very first pass attempt of the game.
With 9:57 remaining in the game, Lycoming scored on Whiteman's pass to Keeghan Morrison but Devon Flynn's kick was blocked by McLoughlin and it stood 28-13 still in favor of Susquehanna.
SU got the ball back with just 1:55 to play and after running one play, took a knee to end the game.
The Crusaders now hit the road to face #13 Johns Hopkins in the Centennial Conference opener for both squads. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.