Football team falls on hard times, loses 24–21

After losing a heartbreaker to Hobart two weeks ago, the Carnegie Mellon football team returned home to the confines of Gesling Stadium, where they had not lost since Nov. 12, 2005, to take on the Allegheny Gators last Saturday.

The Tartans out-gained the Gators in offense, but five Carnegie Mellon turnovers in the second half turned a 14–14 tie at halftime into a 24–14 Allegheny lead late in the game. The Tartans fought back in the closing minutes but fell at the hands of the Gators, losing 24–21.

“You can’t usually win with five turnovers and that’s our fault as an offense,” senior fullback Travis Sivek said. “We have to do better than that to help our defense out.”
Carnegie Mellon (2–2) had the offense in gear early, taking the opening kickoff 80 yards to pay dirt, with Sivek running the ball in from 1 yard out.
Allegheny (2–1) started its first drive with great field position after a long kickoff return of 46 yards. The Gators tied the game at seven, going 45 yards on six plays, finishing the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Devin Raynor.

The game stayed 7–7 until the 3:47 remaining mark in the first half, when Allegheny took its first lead of the game. Starting with the ball on their own 11-yard line, after senior punter Matt Adams set a school record with a 70-yard punt, the Gators marched down the field in six plays. Senior quarterback T.J. Salopek connected with senior wide receiver James Jones in the end zone from 20 yards away.

“Their quarterback, he’s a great athlete,” senior safety Jonathan Scholl said. “You had to key in on the run threat as well as the pass threat. You need to cover both; it’s tough.”

Carnegie Mellon answered with a touchdown drive, successfully managing the clock as halftime approached. Carnegie Mellon went 77 yards on 10 plays and scored a touchdown with only 10 seconds remaining in the first half.

On third down and inches from Allegheny’s 22-yard line, Tartan quarterback Doug Facemyer faked a hand off and threw a pass down the field to sophomore wide receiver Brendan Howe. Howe reeled the ball in for a 22-yard touchdown catch in the left corner of the end zone, and Marks’ extra point tied the game at 14 heading into halftime.

Carnegie Mellon’s first possession of the second half abruptly ended when Allegheny’s Nick Jones intercepted Facemyer. Jones returned the ball 39 yards to the Tartans’ 21-yard line. With great field position, Allegheny took the lead when Salopek threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jake Vite.

Carnegie Mellon moved the ball into Allegheny territory multiple times in the second half, but was unable to score due to turnovers. Facemyer fumbled on two separate occasions when Carnegie Mellon had the ball at Allegheny’s 31-yard line.

Another Facemyer fumble, recovered by Allegheny at Carnegie Mellon’s 17-yard line late in the third quarter, set the stage for Allegheny’s final points of the evening. Credit the Tartan defense, as Allegheny only managed 3 yards on three plays, but a 31-yard field goal attempt by Josh Whiteside was on target, putting the Gators up 24–14.

Down by 10 with four minutes left in the game, Carnegie Mellon’s offense buckled down and executed. A 2-yard touchdown pass from Facemyer to senior running back Robert Gimson capped off a 14-play, 80-yard drive that lasted just over three minutes.

Down 24–21 with only 1:02 remaining, Carnegie Mellon resorted to an onside kick. Marks’ kick was solid, but Jones fielded it nicely to seal the Gator victory.
“Our coaches tell us never to give up,” Scholl said. “You don’t look at the scoreboard and say ‘We’re down by 10 with two minutes to go; we quit.’ No, that’s not how we work. We’re going to fight until the end.”

“Offense, defense, special teams, we have to do better in every aspect of the game,” Sivek said. “Allegheny came out and they played real tough; we just need to be more aggressive, get our assignments, and execute.”

“The defense played well in the second half [and] made some plays, unfortunately we came up short,” Scholl said. “As it ended up, we had the onside kick — we had a chance to get the ball back and score, but unfortunately we didn’t.”

Facemyer finished with a career-high 153 yards passing as Carnegie Mellon out-gained Allegheny 407–305 in total offense. Howe set career highs with seven receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Scholl led the Tartan defense with 13 tackles from his safety spot.

“This off week is going to help us get our injuries taken care of,” Sivek said. “We need to come back fighting. We’re not a group of guys who’s going to fold under pressure like this. We’re going to come back and have a good year.”

The Tartans will next be in action Saturday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m. when they head to Randolph-Macon College in Virginia.