Football loses to Spartans in overtime 20–17

The Carnegie Mellon football team hasn’t received many breaks lately, as they opened up University Athletic Association (UAA) play with a 20–17 loss in overtime Saturday at the hands of the visiting Case Western Reserve Spartans. After the Tartans (2–4 overall, 0–1 in the UAA) failed to score on their overtime possession, Case (6–0, 1–0) attempted a 30-yard field goal that was partially blocked but still managed to barely clear the crossbar, giving the Spartans the Academic Bowl Trophy.

“I thought the [defense] came out fired up and played very well,” sophomore safety Josh Kresge said. “We just came up a little short at the end but all in all the effort was there. We’re going to come back strong and don’t count us out yet.”

“We were focused on keeping the turnovers low and working the line because our rushing attack has been solid in the past,” junior offensive tackle Brian Freeman said. “We just wanted to hold onto the ball and keep driving and we just came up a little bit short today.”

Carnegie Mellon found itself trailing 10–0 early in the game, as the Spartans received the opening kickoff and drove down the field, scoring a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Dan Whalen to receiver Brian Webster. Case tacked on a field goal after a Carnegie Mellon turnover.

With 8:06 remaining in the first half, Tartan junior kicker Colin Marks made a field goal from 26 yards out to get the Tartans on the board, cutting the deficit to 10–3. The score would stay at 10–3 heading into halftime.

The Tartans started the second half strong, scoring 14 straight points in a span of 2:06 to take the lead heading into the fourth quarter. Kresge intercepted Whalen’s pass and returned it 71 yards for the touchdown. The extra point was missed however, so Case clung to a 10–9 lead.

The Tartans got the ball right back when senior defensive lineman Mike Reggie recovered a botched handoff by the Spartans. Senior fullback Travis Sivek found the end zone on a run from 2 yards out and the Tartans converted the two-point conversion to take a 17–10 lead.

“After halftime we decided to go right at their defense and attack them,” Freeman said. “Our front five was dominating them up front and we got up to their linebackers. That was the biggest adjustment.”

Case fought back, forcing a fumble by Tartan sophomore quarterback Phil Pantalone as the Tartans were inside Case’s 5-yard line with just over two minutes to go in the third quarter. Case tied the game at 17 with 5:26 to play in regulation courtesy of an 11-play drive eating up 4:13 of game clock.
“Case has a good offense,” Kresge said. “They move the ball well, they throw the ball well, and they run hard. We had our hands full but I think we did a decent job.”

In overtime, the Tartans started with the ball at the 25-yard line; they gained three yards on three plays, and then attempted a 40-yard field goal.
Marks’ field goal attempt was off the mark and Case took over at the 25 yard mark. Case managed one first down before their drive stalled and Spartan kicker Sam Coffey barely connected on the 30-yard field goal.

Case gained 303 yards of total offense compared to the Tartans’ 241 yards. Sivek banged his way to 141 yards rushing on 37 carries.

“It’s always good to see a back like Travis that’s going to work for you,” Freeman said. “When he’s fighting through tackles and breaking tackles, it makes you want to work that much harder to get that extra block and push forward.”

Seniors Jon Scholl and Jonathan Bodnar led the Tartan defense with 11 tackles apiece.

“We have a good defense when we focus and don’t make mistakes,” Kresge said. “I thought we did a pretty good job today. We did have some mistakes here and there, but all in all it was a solid effort.”

The Tartans will look to snap their four-game losing streak Saturday when they travel to play the University of Chicago with kickoff slated for 1 p.m.