Football Dealt Heartbreaking Loss by Susquehanna

Football Dealt Heartbreaking Loss by Susquehanna

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College football team suffered a heartbreaking loss on Saturday, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as visiting Susquehanna completed a 45-yard Hail Mary as time expired before going on to steal a 41-35 win in an overtime thriller.

The Bears (4-3, 3-3) trailed 21-14 heading into the fourth quarter but rallied in impressive fashion behind sophomore sensation Samuel Ragland, who brought them to the precipice of victory with his third rushing touchdown of the day with a mere 35.1 seconds remaining. But what appeared to be the clincher far from it.

Susquehanna (4-3, 3-3) returned the ensuing kickoff near midfield and moved to the Bears' 45 to set up a 4th-and-1 with 9 ticks showing on the clock. Quarterback Michael Ruisch rolled to his left and bought time before loading up a throw to the back left corner of the end zone, where Mitch Carsley somehow came down the ball through a thicket of bodies with 0.2 seconds remaining. Susquehanna booted home the extra point to send the contest into overtime.

On Ursinus' first play of the extra session, Ragland was unable to come down with a throw from junior quarterback Thomas Garlick, and eventually a 4th-and-3 awaited the hosts. Susquehanna came up with the stop it needed when Cole Dixon knocked away Garlick's pass to Ragland.

The River Hawks turned to the ground game to close it out, running Aaron Speight four plays in a row to move down to the Bears' 4. Ruisch picked up a 3rd-and-2 with his legs before Speight powered in from four yards out for the winner.

Speight matched Ragland's huge game with three touchdowns of his own, racking up 148 yards on 22 carries. Ruisch finished 19 of 31 for 184 yards and three scores with two interceptions.

The Bears put up 5-6 yards of total offense, and Garlick and Ragland continued to etch their names into program lore. Garlick completed 28 of 43 attempts for 337 yards, becoming just the third quarterback in school history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a career and also moving into a tie with Chris Curran '13 for the all-time completions record with 428. He is now just 248 yards away from Curran's program benchmark. 

Ragland, meanwhile, finished with a school-record 14 receptions – two more than his own mark from his last appearance against Muhlenberg. The sophomore star's trio of rushing scores made him just the fifth player in Ursinus history to score 10 in a season, and he is now tied for fifth with 18 career touchdowns. Ragland's 53 yards put him over 1,000 for his career.

The Bears came out firing on all cylinders, going ahead 7-0 on Garlick's 2-yard keeper and doubling their lead when Ragland plunged in from three yards out early in the second quarter. Ragland's scamper capped a 16-play, 91-yard march that took seven minutes off the clock and featured several jaw-dropping plays. Garlick somehow floated a perfect pass to freshman Ryan Loughlin for a 27-yard gain on third and long, picked up a 4th-and-5 with a pass out to Ragland, and scrambled for a 10-yard gain on 3rd-and-5 to move the ball down to the 6-yard line.

Susquehanna got on track from there, pulling even on a pair of rushing scores by Speight. The River Hawks had the only points of the third quarter on Ruisch's incredible touchdown pass off a scramble with 7:37 on the clock.

Held down for the better part of two quarters, the Bears roared back and got within 21-20 on sophomore Kyle Wiggins' 14-yard TD run off a terrific option sell by Garlick.  

Down 28-20, Ursinus tied it on an 8-yard run by Ragland and a sensational two-point conversion that saw Garlick toss a jump pass to senior tight end Thomas Cardozo, who wrestled the ball away in tight quarters and came down with the tying score.

Eventually, Susquehanna took over at its own 34 with two minutes remaining. Looking for a go-ahead tally, the River Hawks were denied when freshman Shane Jones intercepted Ruisch's throw over the middle, setting up Ragland's last-minute TD. The sophomore took a pitch from Garlick and sprinted toward the pylon, just evading a Susquehanna defender and leaping over the goal line at an angle. Unfortunately, the would-be winning play was rendered moot by Susquehanna's miracle toss.

Wiggins finished with 71 yards on 12 carries and his first career touchdown, also catching three passes for 37 yards. Garlick ran for 45 yards and a score for Ursinus, which racked up five touchdowns on the ground.

Loughlin had five receptions for 95 yards, and junior transfer Zach Gravelle caught four balls for 82 yards.

Junior Jack Spingler anchored the Bears' defense with 10 tackles (1.5 for loss) and got help from classmates Jacob McCain (eight tackles) and Marcus Weathers. Junior Mitchell Bradford finished with six tackles and added his sixth career interception.

Ursinus looks to snap a three-game skid at McDaniel on Saturday, October 27.