Tartans celebrate HOMECOMING VICTORY
It was cold and rainy at Gesling Stadium Saturday afternoon. Strong gusts of wind blew debris about the track, knocked a bench over, and made the flags atop the goal posts dance. Thankfully the chili served pre-game at the first annual Homecoming Chili Cook-off was hot.
While rain had altered several other Homecoming weekend events, it would not hamper the football game, nor would it hamper the Carnegie Mellon football team, which after starting the season with one win and two losses won its third consecutive game.
The weather was not a deterrent to the fans, either. The stands were awash in a sea of umbrellas as students, parents, and alumni came to watch the game. There was a student section audible for the first time this season, which provided a nice complement to the Kiltie Band.
The Tartans began the game with possession of the football. Starting from their own 20-yard line they opened the game with a handoff to first-year running back Colby Whitman and produced a short gain. The following play, a sweep to the outside by senior quarterback Jarrod Highberger, failed to fool the Maroon defensive and was stopped for a loss of five yards by Chicago senior linebacker Matt Armbruster. On third-and-15 Highberger took the snap and went back to pass, but the Maroon defensive allowed no separation and Highberger was sacked for a loss of eight yards, forcing the Tartans to punt.
The punt from senior defensive back and punter Adam Lovrovich netted 28 yards. The Maroons, with a short field in front of them, began their drive from the Tartan 35-yard line. They were able to drive the ball 30 yards mostly due to senior tailback Frank Brown, who carried the ball five of the six plays for 21 yards. However, on second-and-goal from the Tartan four-yard line, Brown fumbled a handoff which was recovered by sophomore defensive back Aaron Lewis.
While the Tartans had defused the Maroon scoring threat, they were unable to move the ball and were again forced to punt.
A five-yard punt return by defensive back Brandon Halcott again gave Chicago another short field to work with, as they began their drive at the Tartan 37. Two solid plays by the Tartan defensive line, resulting in a net loss of one yard, put the Maroons in a passing situation. On third and 11, Chicago quarterback sophomore Marc Zera had a pass intercepted by Lewis ? who had an outstanding day all told, breaking up one pass, recovering a fumble, and recording six tackles.
The Tartans started with their best field position of the game thus far: their own 36. However, they were unable to move the ball for a first down, and were again forced to punt. This was much the case for both teams for the remainder of the first quarter. Both teams were unable to establish any scoring drives and both frequently punted. The rain, which complicated the game, doubled with strong defensive play by both teams resulted in a scoreless first quarter.
The stalemate was broken early in the second quarter. After forcing Chicago to punt, the Tartans began a drive at their own 26-yard line. Two rushes by first year fullback Tarvis Sivek resulted in two consecutive first downs. Using mainly Sivek, the Tartans were able to drive the ball 74 yards in 12 plays. The drive culminated in an 11-yard pass from Highberger to junior tight end Kosta Bourlas. A successful point after attempt by sophomore kicker Nathaniel Greenstein made the score 7?0.
Highberger finished the game completing seven of 13 passes for a total of 94 yards and one touchdown. While Bourlas had the touchdown reception, Highberger?s primary target was sophomore receiver Mark Davis, who ended the game with three receptions for 47 yards, including one 27-yard reception. ?This year we?re opening up, we have more faith in the passing game,? said Davis, ?we are making clutch catches and we can score with our running or passing game.?
The Tartans were able to score again in the second quarter, one drive later. Two long passes, one for 20 yards to junior running back Jon Cakert and one to Davis for 27 yards. Sivek rushed for 26 yards on the drive, including a two-yard touchdown run. After the extra point, the score was 14?0.
Sivek ended the game with 27 carries for 120 yards and one touchdown. The Tartans finished the game with 173 yards on the ground.
In the third quarter, the Tartans scored again ? a 23-yard field goal by Greenstein, making the score 17?0.
The Maroons were able to score on a nine-yard pass from Zera to senior tight end Jack Stockert, which made the score 17?7 in the Tartans? favor. While they did allow the score, the Tartan defense had another solid performance. They intercepted three passes: one by Lewis, as well one by sophomore defensive back Mark Stefanski and one by senior defensive back Adam Wirth. Junior defensive back Steven Killmeyer broke up five passes, while the Tartans broke up a total of ten.
Perhaps the most exciting defensive plays were made by junior linebacker Jamie Ploetzner, who recorded a twelve-yard fourth-down sack and had a hit on special teams which was painful to watch.
?Our defensive is playing great; that really helps the team out,? said Sivek.
?Since the 1?2 start our team makes fewer mistakes ? fewer penalties, turnovers, mental errors. We are playing smarter,? said head coach Rich Lackner.
?We are 3?2 coming off an open date where we were able to get some guys back that needed some time off to get healthy ? [the bye] also gave us a chance to prepare for the second half of the season. We have three critical games in a row because they are all conference games,? he continued.
The Tartans will continue their conference schedule October 23 at Washington University (Mo.).
While it was raining at Gesling Stadium, and it was quite cold, it appears that the sun continues to rise on the Carnegie Mellon football team.