PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Division III Ursinus Bears have hit the ground running here in 2017.
After beating Juniata 35-28 on Homecoming this past Saturday in Collegeville, the Bears sit at 3-0 on the season and 2-0 in the Centennial Conference.
The Bears have already eclipsed their win total from last year when they finished just 2-8.
There are a lot of people responsible for this early success in Collegeville including sophomore quarterback Tom Garlick. The Quakertown High School product is completing 61% of his passes and has thrown for 629 yards and four touchdowns with just two interceptions. He also has rushed for 135 yards and a score.
“It’s been awesome,” Garlick tells KYW Newsradio about the 3-0 start. “All that hard work that the guys have been putting in all off-season is really been paying off. I think everyone can see that last year isn’t what this program is about and we’re turning things around and headed in the right direction.”
Listen: Ursinus RB Stacey Gardner with Matt Leon
Garlick is supported by an impressive running game which is lead by sophomore running back Stacey Gardner. Gardner, who went to Upper Dublin High School, has already piled up 406 yards while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. He has scored three touchdowns.
“Coming into this season, [head coach Pete Gallagher] early on let me know that we were going to have to get me the ball some more,” Gardner tells KYW Newsradio. “I just kind of had to take the mentality that I was going to do my best every time I got a chance.”
Gardner’s average of 135.3 rushing yards a game is tops in the Centennial Conference. He talks about why he thinks the Bears are thriving here in 2017.
“I feel like everybody kind of knows what we’ve got to get done and has done their very best,” he says. “In the season, out of season, during the workouts to get better, not only as individual players, but as an entire team.”
The Bears are also getting great work out of freshman back Samuel Ragland, who has five touchdowns on just 26 carries and is averaging more than seven yards a rush.
A big point in this young season for Ursinus was their week two win over Gettysburg. The Bears needed a touchdown pass from Garlick in the final minute to turn a 28-27 deficit into a 35-28 victory.
“That was a huge win for us,” Garlick says. “Showing that we can finish drives, we can finish games. Last year we had a couple teams down and we couldn’t finish the game, we couldn’t put that last touchdown up on the board to finish things out. This year we’re getting that done.”
Ursinus will look to move to 4-0 on Saturday when the Bears visit Moravian.