By The Daily Item
EASTON -- Despite a defensive effort in which the Bison forced four turnovers, Bucknell's offense could do little to capitalize off them.
Lafayette's Ross Scheuerman had 20 rushes for 188 yards while quarterback Andrew Dzurik threw for 235 on 22 completions as the Leopards' offense accumulated 428 yards to Bucknell's 80 in a 31-7 win on Saturday at Fisher Stadium.
It was the first Patriot League game of the season.
Bucknell's Matthew Steinbeck had two interceptions while Clayton Ewell recorded his first interception. The Bison also forced a dropped punt in the first half.
Freshman RJ Nitti got his first start at quarterback for Bucknell (1-3, 0-1 PL) in place of injured senior Brandon Wesley and completed 14 of 32 passes for 64 yards.
Lafayette scored three touchdowns in the first 20 minutes to take a 21-0 lead. The first score came when the Leopards capitalized on a Nitti fumble that gave them the ball at the two-yard line. One play later Scheuerman scored.
Lafayette went up 14-0 with 5:18 left in the first quarter when Dzurik completed a two-yard pass to Brandon Hall. Dzurik capped a six-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Morgan Donohue with 11:44 left in the second quarter to make it 21-0.
Bucknell cut into Lafayette's lead late in the first half when it capitalized on Crawford's dropped punt.
Crawford called for a fair catch and let the ball slip between his hands. Travis Friend recovered the ball at the Lafayette 23.
A pass interference call against Lafayette moved the Bison to a first-and-goal from the 10.
On a third-and-goal from the 12, Nitti dropped back and found a diving Charles Thompson along the back edge of the end zone. A horizontal Thompson acrobatically got a foot down to record his first career touchdown and Nitti's first career touchdown pass with 4:48 left in the first half.
Unfortunately for Bucknell, that was the only score the Bison would manage in the loss.
The Bison held the Leopards without a point for the final 11:44 of the first half as Lafayette had two punts, lost a fumble and Dzurik threw an interception during that span. Steinbeck recorded his first interception and returned it 33 yards on the second-to-last play of the first half.
Steinbeck added another interception in the second half, giving him eight in his career to put him in a tie for 14th on the program's all-time list. His 205 career interception return yards put him just 27 shy of equaling Gene Luccarelli's school record.
The Leopards added 10 second-half points with three coming on a Ryan Gralish 24-yard field and the other seven coming on a 78-yard touchdown run by Scheuerman.