Charles Nailen/The Hoya Georgetown’s passing game will be hard-pressed to prevent turnovers against the Bucknell secondary. The Bison have had 19 picks this season.

The Hoyas look to eke one more conference win out of the 2003 season when they face the Bucknell Bison (5-6, 3-3 Patriot) Saturday at Christy Matthewson Stadium in Lewisburg, Pa.

Georgetown (4-7, 1-5 Patriot) earned its first Patriot League victory as a conference member last year, edging Bucknell 32-31 on Oct. 26, 2002. Quarterback Dave Paulus completed a pass to wide receiver Walter Bowser with 13 seconds left in the game for the go-ahead score.

Though sophomore running back Marcus Slayton and sophomore cornerback Jesse Patterson will sit out for the second straight week, senior wideout Luke McArdle will start, Head Coach Bob Benson confirmed yesterday. But whether or not he will play the entire contest remains to be determined.

McArdle needs just 55 yards to eclipse former Hoya and current Assistant Coach Gharun Hester (MSB ’01) in single season receiving yards. During his junior year in 1999, Hester tallied 1,073 receiving yards.

But the focus of the contest will not be McArdle, nor will it be the passing game of either team. Instead, the marquee matchup will be the Hoyas’ ground defense against the Bison rush offense – both of which are ranked second in the conference.

“We have to rush the football effectively,” Bucknell Head Coach Tim Landis said. “We have three running backs in the backfield at all times. We’re a spread option team . and we have to work hard to get the football established.”

The Bison are led by sophomore fullback Blamah Sarnor, who has 806 yards on the year. Accompanying Sarnor in the offensive backfield are junior quarterback Daris Wilson, senior running back Tim Johnson and sophomore running back Antwan Kennedy.

Wilson is second on the team with 667 rushing yards, though he did not play at all during weeks eight, nine and 10 because of an ankle injury. “He’s not at 100 percent, but he wants to play,” Landis said. “He’s healthier this week.”

Wilson ran 16 times for 36 yards in the team’s 45-9 rout by Lehigh last Saturday.

“We’ve got to stop the quarterback,” Benson said. “The fullback can get 100 yards. He did at Lehigh and [the Mountain Hawks] still won.”

But Bucknell’s focus on the run leaves much to be desired in the air game. The team recorded only 35 passing yards against Lehigh (7-3, 5-1 Patriot) and is last in the Patriot League in pass offense with 121.7 yards per game.

“[Lehigh] really exposed us for what our weaknesses are,” Landis said. “We just didn’t match up, then we made critical errors.”

He added that Bucknell has “very little depth.” With Landis in first season as head coach, the team did not recruit well in the offseason and was ranked last in the preseason coaches’ poll. Nevertheless, the Bison opened the season 2-0 in conference play before losing to Colgate in week eight.

The Hoyas have had a difficult time preparing for the multi-faceted Bison ground attack. In this week’s practices, the team has worked on assigning defenders particular plays to guard against. Benson said the defense must avoid making mistakes.

“You’re never going to duplicate the speed, precision and cut blocks [of the option attack],” Benson said. “It’s an angle-inches game.”

When Georgetown is on offense, it will have to account for one of the most potent secondaries in the conference. Junior defensive back Joe Glenn is sixth in Division I-AA in interceptions per game. Glenn has seven picks in 11 contests with 126 return yards – including one touchdown. As a whole, the Bison have had 19 picks in 2003.

Though last week most of Georgetown’s seniors saw some playing time, this week, Benson said he intends to stick with the usual starters.

“It’s important to win – to combine the present with the future and take the momentum into next year,” he said. “We’re playing nobody but the best.”

The all-time series between Georgetown and Bucknell is tied, 7-7-1. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.

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