---- — By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- Bucknell couldn't have dreamt a better start to the 2013 season than first two quarters of Saturday night's opener against Marist.
Before the visiting Red Foxes knew what hit them, Bucknell led by three scores at halftime.
The only downside to Saturday night's performance was the ending.
Despite just a field goal on the opening drive of the second half, the Bison's performance in the first two quarters was enough for a 27-14 victory over the Red Foxes.
"This gives us a lot of confidence," said Bucknell quarterback Brandon Wesley, who was 12-of-16 for 176 yards and 2 TDs. "I think this a good start for us. This shows us what we are capable of when we execute."
The Bucknell offense had 353 yards of total offense, an output it exceeded just twice last season. Most of that production came in the first half, when the Bison offense put together three different drives of 70-plus yards in rolling up 270 yards in the first half and generating a 24-7 lead at halftime.
"The way we went out with three drives of 70 yards was critical," Bucknell coach Joe Susan said.
After each team punted to open the game, Bucknell put together a six-play, 22-yard drive to take a 3-0 lead when Derek Mauer kicked a 38-yard field goal with 8:15 left in the opening quarter.
Bucknell's defense forced another Red Foxes punt which set up the first touchdown of Bucknell's season. Wesley hit Josh Lebo with a 45-yard pass to open the drive, and then capped it with a 3-yard Wesley-to-Travis Friend TD pass with 53 seconds left in the first quarter to give BU a 10-0 lead.
The Red Foxes (0-2) answered with their longest sustained drive of the game, a 14-play, 74-yard marched capped by a Chuckie Looney 3-yard TD pass to Armani Martin cut the Bucknell lead to 10-7 with 11:06 left in the first half.
That was the only long drive the Bucknell defense allowed, holding Marist to 255 yards on 71 total plays (3.6 yards per play). Junior linebacker Evan Byers had 12 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery to lead the defensive effort. Sean Sellers added two sacks as Bucknell sacked Looney six times in the game.
"We had specific period during practice to go no-huddle, to get ready for this team," said Bucknell safety Clayton Ewell, who had five tackles and a sack.
Bucknell went 75 yards in 14 plays (10 runs) consuming 6:58 of the second quarter. Freshman C.J. Williams scored his first collegiate TD on a 1-yard dive with 4:07 left for a 17-7 BU lead.