Cameron Ott rushed for 175 yards on 27 carries to lead the Susquehanna University Football team to a 21-14 victory over Ursinus College in a Centennial Conference matchup Saturday afternoon on Amos Alonzo Stagg Field in Selinsgrove.
With the win over Ursinus (5-2 Overall, 4-2 Centennial), Susquehanna (5-2, 4-2) moved into a three-way tie for third place in the conference standings with three games remaining on the schedule. Johns Hopkins and Franklin & Marshall are tied for first with 5-1 records while Susquehanna, Ursinus and Muhlenberg are all tied for third at 4-2. The River Hawks own the tie-breaker with both Muhlenberg and Ursinus.
The running game on both sides of the field was the story of the game. Ott led the River Hawks to 209 yards rushing which was the most since the season-opener against Lycoming. The Susquehanna defense limited the Bears, who entered the game averaging 222 yards per contest, to just 92 yards on 30 carries.
Neither team was able to score in the first quarter. All three Ursinus drives in the first stanza ended with punts. Susquehanna was able to move the ball but had a fumble and a missed field goal stop drives in the opening quarter.
The River Hawks broke the scoreless game in the second quarter as Ott used an 11-yard run to cap an eight-play drive that covered 62 yards. Ott had five carries for 45 yards on the drive including a pair of consecutive runs for 14 and 17 yards.
In the second half, Susquehanna extended its lead with a seven-play, 89 yard scoring drive on the first possession that was also capped by an Ott run. The big play in the drive was a 50-yard pass play from Nick Crusco to Mikah Christian. Christian also had a 13-yard reception and Ott had a 24-yard run in the drive.
Ursinus answered with its next drive, marching 70 yards on nine plays and finishing with a 24-yard pass play to trim the lead to 14-7 midway through the third quarter.
The River Hawks continued the scoring run with another TD on their next drive. Ott rushed the first three plays of the drive for 21 yards and after a 15-yard penalty on the Bears, Susquehanna had the ball on the 21 yard line.
The Susquehanna offense tried the same trick play that resulted in a TD two weeks ago and had Ott throw an option pass into the end zone. This time, the pass was intercepted but a flag for pass interference gave the River Hawks the ball on the six yard line. Ott carried the next play for five yards and Crusco ran the final yard on a quarterback keeper for the score and a 21-7 lead.
For the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth, the Susquehanna offense looked to continue to run the ball to consume as much clock as possible and the River Hawks defense continued its strong play.
Midway through the final quarter, Ursinus abandoned the run game and turned to passing to put together a final scoring drive. Quarterback Thomas Garlick completed seven consecutive passes on the drive and capped it off with a 12-yard run to cut the Susquehanna lead to 21-14 with 4:16 remaining.
Ott returned to the field for the final drive and ran five times including a three-yard run on a fake punt for a first down to seal the victory.
For Ott, it was a season best rushing total with his 175 yards. Crusco was 12-of-21 throwing for 163 yards. Christian had 67 yards on three catches and Diamente Holloway pulled down five passes for 43 yards.
Defensively, Connor Thompson led the River Hawks with nine tackles while Craig Roumes and David Simpson had eight stops each. Roumes also had a sack, 1 ½ tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Danial Shelton, Ricky Reyes and Jason Brougham finished with six tackles each. Shelton broke up a pair of passes and Reyes added a breakup for the River Hawks.
Susquehanna travels to Gettysburg for a 1 p.m. game next weekend and returns home Nov. 4 for the final regular season home game in a battle for the Goal Post Trophy against Juniata.