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Bucknell holds on to beat the Quakers at Franklin Field Bucknell holds on to beat the Quakers at Franklin Field the Bison scored 23 straight points to hand host Penn its second loss of the season. In the most logical and straightforward way, Penn football coach Al Bagnoli summed up the reason for Saturday's 23-16 loss to Bucknell in merely seven words. "It all comes down to making plays," he said. The game seemed all but lost with six minutes left and the Quakers down 23-7, but Penn mounted a stunning comeback. Ten points, a recovered onside kick and a defensive stand later, Penn trailed the Bison by seven with the ball 75 yards from the Bucknell endzone. Quakers quarterback Gavin Hoffman marched Penn to the Bucknell 29 but the Red and Blue came up short when he fumbled the ball while being sacked with 18 seconds remaining. It seemed like the Bison always converted in dire situations, giving Penn (1-2) its second straight loss at Franklin Field. For starters, with no score in the game's opening moments, Bucknell (4-1) faked a punt on its own 23-yard line. The ball was snapped directly to Bucknell inside linebacker Shawn Redd, who broke through the middle for a gain of 34 yards. "We think we're a decent football team and we were going to play our game? and not play conservative," Bucknell coach Tom Gadd said. In the third quarter, Gadd used the exact same trick on a fourth-and-two, successfully extending the Bison drive. Bucknell's biggest play on special teams, however, came late in the third quarter with the Bison clinging to a 10-7 lead. Twenty yards from a first down, Penn was forced to punt from its own 24-yard line. Penn sophomore Ryan Lazzeri's punt was blocked by Bucknell defensive back Bobby Young and downed on the Quakers' 30-yard line. Although it took the Bison nine plays to score a touchdown from 30 yards out, they were able to convert on all three third downs during their drive. The most crucial third-down play of the drive came when Bucknell faced a third-and-goal from the Quakers' six-yard line. The Bison shifted their formation at the line of scrimmage and then Bucknell senior quarterback Don McDowell found freshman wide receiver Jim Horan in the end zone for six points. "We knew a shift was coming and we [went] into man coverage, which would have taken care of all those adjustments," Bagnoli said. "The kid just blew a circuit." The other two Bucknell touchdowns also came on short-yardage situations deep in the red zone. Bucknell's first touchdown of the afternoon came courtesy of a two-yard McDowell run on third down, which gave the Bison a 10-7 lead -- a lead they would never relinquish. Then, winning 16-7 in the fourth quarter, Gadd decided to "not play conservative" and go for the first down when Bucknell had a fourth-and-one just two yards from the Penn endzone. The Bison ran a naked bootleg that McDowell took in for his second touchdown. "It was frustrating because we almost called every play," Bagnoli said. "On the naked reverse, we kind of had that one called too and our end just missed him in open field. The [quarterback] is a terrific player. "You get yourself in that situation where its quarterback versus defensive end, and it's going to take an exceptional defensive end to make the play in open field." McDowell finished 13-for-28 passing for 106 yards but he played an integral part in all three Bucknell touchdowns. The most influential Bison on the stat sheet, however, was sophomore flanker Jabu Powell. While Powell caught three passes for 49 yards, he spent most of the game running the ball when tailbacks Dan Palko and LaMario Bradwell left the game with injuries. "I'm a natural tailback," Powell said. "I've been playing tailback most of my life so the transition wasn't hard for me." Powell accumulated 102 yards on the ground on just 12 carries, including a 43-yard run during the touchdown drive which gave Bucknell a 23-7 lead. "I can't tell you how much it meant to see him run the football up the field because I don't think anybody has run the ball on Penn, including Villanova," Gadd said. The ground attack was one of the few positives for the Quakers as well. Penn sophomore tailback Kris Ryan averaged 6.3 yards per carry en route to a career best 152-yard performance. Ryan has piled up 332 rushing yards this season on just 51 carries. "We were tackling but not wrapping up," Redd said. "When you have a big back like that you just have to run your feet through him." The other positive that Bagnoli would like to take from this loss is the Quakers' late-game resilience. "We could have just said 'to hell with it,'" Bagnoli said. "I think we showed a little bit of resolve." Once the Quakers fell behind 23-7, the offense began to click. On the ensuing drive, Hoffman, who missed part of the second and third quarters with a slight concussion, went 7-for-8 for 75 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown bomb to sophomore Erik Bolinder. Now trailing 23-13, the Quakers went for the two-point conversion to pull within eight. This time it was the Bucknell defense that made the big play, as they stuffed Hoffman at the goal line when he tried to scramble for the conversion. "I'm the free guy in the middle and it's my responsibility to come up and make sure he doesn't get in," Bucknell junior inside linebacker Vince Ficca said. "I just tried to put everything into my hit because those points were very important." Thereafter, Penn recovered an onside kick and subsequently kicked a field goal to cut Bucknell's lead to 23-16. After stopping the Bucknell offense, the Red and Blue had a chance to tie with 48 second remaining and the ball on their own 25. Penn made it down to the Bucknell 29, but Hoffman fumbled the ball while being sacked. Bison defensive end John Papadakis hit Hoffman for the sack and defensive lineman Eric Green made the final clutch play by recovering the fumble, thus preserving the Bucknell fourth victory of the season and giving Penn its second straight loss.

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