Zach Silver / Sun Assistant Sports Edtor

Sophomore QB Dalton Banks threw for over 160 yards and accounted for all three touchdowns in a 24-16 win.

September 18, 2016

First-Year Starting Quarterback Dalton Banks Looks Right at Home in Debut

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LEWISBURG, PA — In his first ever varsity action, sophomore quarterback Dalton Banks looked like anything but a rookie.

The San Antonio native took the reigns with confidence and poise, throwing for 160 yards, rushing for 24 and accounting for all three touchdowns — two on the ground and one in the air.

Coaches and teammates alike were happy with Banks’ performance, but were not surprised at what they saw from the young quarterback.

“I expected it,” sophomore running back Chris Walker said. “I didn’t expect anything else.”

“Did it look like it was his first game ever?” asked senior captain and tight end Matt Sullivan of his quarterback.

The two players connected for the most impressive play call at the most crucial point of the game. Up by just one with the third quarter winding down, Banks hit Sullivan for a 22-yard touchdown to essentially put the game out of reach for Bucknell.

“The kid plays the game in his head before he gets on the field,” a jubilant Sullivan said after the game. “It’s not his first game. He’s so prepared. He has all the tangibles to go out there and be a great Division I quarterback and you saw it on the field today.”

Banks, too, noted that his performance on Saturday night came from months upon months of preparation and training, but gave a majority of the credit to his teammates.

“I’ve got a great team around me,” he said. “My [offensive] line is fantastic, my receivers are deep at every position. I just feel comfortable, confident and I don’t really have to feel nervous because I’ve got a great team around me. Teammates that will pick me up whenever I need it to help me out.”

Head coach David Archer ’05 was particularly impressed with Banks, given that Bucknell did not play how the coaching staff expected.

“In a hostile environment, they blitzed and they brought everything,” the head coach said. “We thought they were going to come in with certain coverages and certain formations and they almost always did the exact opposite. They blitzed so much more than we thought and they blitzed on different downs than we thought they would.”

While he was deadly accurate with his arm — completing 17 of 24 pass attempts — Banks’ rushing maneuverability was what put the Red over the top in the end. He scored the team’s first touchdown of the season on a 10-yard rush, and scored the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard goal line sneak.

This performance is no anomaly for Banks, however. In his high school senior year, Banks ran for double-digit touchdowns and just shy of 600 yards. So far in 2016, he has run for two, though his rushing performance was not to be outshined by Walker’s 133 yards on the ground.

It was this two-headed monster — strong passing and a threatening running game — that kept the Bucknell defense on its toes, never able to relax and become complacent.

“We have so much versatility that it just helps that the defense won’t be able to lock in on a certain guy,” Banks said. “Everyone on offense is a playmaker. I truly believe that I think we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the season.”

In the days leading up to Saturday’s kickoff, Archer called the new quarterback “a football junkie,” who is “always watching tape and preparing.”

While there are some aspects of play that the detail-oriented quarterback will inevitably look to fix, he should watch the tape happy and with confidence, knowing he looked like a seasoned-veteran while leading the Red to its first win in a season-opener since 2013.