A sterling defensive effort wasn?t enough as Carnegie Mellon fell short against Franklin & Marshall College Saturday. The Tartans? final drive fell short as a fourth-and-goal pass was incomplete to seal the loss, 6?0. Carnegie Mellon fell to 2?2 in the season, while Franklin & Marshall notched their first win.
Both teams presented stellar defensive efforts, as the Tartans set the tone of the game early. Franklin & Marshall strung together a few big plays to set up first-and-goal at the Tartans? 10. The defense held tough, leading to a fourth-and-three pass that fell incomplete. After a few quick possessions on both sides, the Tartans found an opportunity at the end of the first quarter.
Diplomat punter Tim Barry fumbled a snap on fourth-and-goal. Though the Diplomats recovered, the ball was turned over to the Tartans on the 42-yard line. However, the offense couldn?t capitalize, giving up a sack before punting.
This was a recurring theme of the game, as the team failed to capitalize or get any momentum going in their favor.
The Tartans appeared to be putting together their first drive of the game in the second quarter, as sophomore Travis Sivek picked up 14 yards on the ground and quarterback Kevin Mulkern nailed junior Jon Kline with a 10-yard pass to move to their 46-yard line. However, Mulkern fumbled on a rush up the middle, turning the ball back over to the Diplomats.
Though they failed to score, they were able to pin the Tartans down on their own four-yard line to start their drive. Again, the offense began to move the chains, as Sivek, sophomore Rob Gimson and junior Colby Whitman gained 57 yards on nine consecutive running plays. Unfortunately, disaster struck when the offense went to the air, as Mulkern?s first pass of the drive was intercepted and returned 20 yards to the F&M 45-yard line.
Again, the Carnegie Mellon defense held tough, keeping
their opponents scoreless at the half. However, the offense was still unable to convert, as Mulkern threw another interception to open up the second half. Here, the Diplomats finally capitalized, kicking a
31-yard field goal to take the lead 3?0.
The Tartans looked as if they would storm right back, as
10 straight rushes bought the team to the Diplomats? 20-yard line. As the drive stalled, the team sent out junior placekicker Nathaniel Greenstein, who had nailed two field goals in last week?s loss to Johns Hopkins. However, his attempt from 38 yards went wide left.
Jarrod Highberger took over for the team as quarterback at the end of the third quarter, but found no more success scoring than Mulkern. The team was unable to get anything going on offense, and the Diplomats were able to wear down the defense and the clock as the game ran down. After another field goal, Franklin & Marshall led 6?0 with just 5:28 to play.
With their backs against the wall, the Tartan offense came out strong. Gimson led the running
attack while Highberger found Kline several times as the Tartans moved the ball from their 35-yard line to their opponents? nine. Faced with first-and-goal and needing a touchdown to win, though, the Tartans were unable to convert on the ground or in the air.
The final two plays saw Highberger fire incomplete passes into the end zone to seal the victory for the Diplomats. One of these passes was narrowly deflected by a Franklin & Marshal defender just in front of the outstretched hands of a Carnegie Mellon wideout.
The loss is a conspicuous start to a tough three-game road trip for the Tartans. Next week they travel to Colorado to play
Colorado College, and thereafter will face the University of Chicago in the windy city. They return home October 22.