September 22, 2008

Rihn’s Fourth-Quarter Block Dooms Bison

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LEWISBERG, Penn. — Senior defensive lineman Graham Rihn had seen it before. It was something he noticed while playing Bucknell earlier in his career; something that could mean the difference between a win and loss. Rihn knew there was no second line of defense. If he could somehow slip through the initial blocks from offensive lineman, his path to the kicker would be unimpeded. That is exactly what transpired Saturday evening in the Red’s 21-20 victory at Christy Mathewson Stadium.
After cutting the Red’s lead to 21-20 with 10:56 remaining in regulation, the standard point after touchdown was blocked before it ever had a chance to sail through the uprights. The Bison had just marched down the field against a seemingly exhausted Cornell defense with an 11-play, 42-yard drive, which consumed 5:35. Bucknell capped the drive when senior quarterback Marcello Trigg found sophomore Shaun Pasternak on an eight-yard cross route in the end zone. [img_assist|nid=31969|title=Coming at you|desc=Junior running back Randy Barbour (30) ran for 114 yards on Saturday during the Red’s 21-20 win over Bucknell.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
What ensued proved to be the difference in the game. Rihn used his 6-0 and 235 pound frame to bulldoze through a gap in the offensive line, raise the club on his right arm and deflect the kick from Bucknell senior Will Carney. The ball ricocheted off of Rihn’s cast, which he wore to protect his injured wrist.
“That’s a play emphasized more than any other play,” Rihn said. “We stress it every week because it can win us a game and tonight it did. We schemed them up a little bit. In the past, their snapper hasn’t really had any protection responsibilities, so it was the same thing tonight and that ‘A’-gap was open.”
Rihn and head coach Jim Knowles ’87 both credited junior lineman Trevin
Cowman for opening up the initial hole.
“He drives the guard and makes a little crease for Graham to go around the center because you’re not allowed to hit the center,” Knowles said.
Rihn was excited when talked about the importance of the blocked extra point as it is something the team focuses on every day in practice.
Prior to the contest, Cornell and Bucknell did not exchange game tapes, which meant Rihn had to rely on past experience against the Bison.
“We knew they’ve had a couple [punts] blocked just from previous years,” Rihn said. “The guys really believe it. First period of every practice, we [focus on] PAT’s. Our guys really believe they can block kicks when needed to.”
Rihn’s blocked extra point rejuvenated a lethargic Red defense, which limited Bucknell to a three-and-out drive on its subsequent and final series of the game before punting the ball back to the Red with 3:13 remaining. Before Rihn’s block, Pasternak was an elusive target for Cornell cornerbacks, hauling in three passes, including a touchdown, on Bucknell’s previous drive. However, following Rihn’s block, Cornell held the Bison to only three yards of total offense and broke up the only pass thrown in Pasternak’s direction.
Bucknell also failed to convert the point after touchdown on its first attempt of the ballgame, but it was Rihn’s block in the fourth quarter that doomed the Bison.
Rihn proved to be a force for the Red throughout the contest, accumulating four tackles and recording a sack for 12 yards.