Football team wins three

The football team came out strong Saturday with a season-high 42 points on the way to defeating the hosting Bethany Bison 42–19, extending Carnegie Mellon’s winning streak to three games and moving the team’s record to 5–4. Bethany dropped to 4–5.

The Tartans rushed the ball for over 350 yards against the Bison, yet it was a passing play that got Carnegie Mellon on the board early. Carnegie Mellon’s first possession was capped with a 33-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Phil Pantalone to senior receiver Jeremy Doo, marking the second straight week the tandem combined for a touchdown. Junior kicker Colin Marks tacked on the extra point to give the Tartans an early 7–0 lead.

“We’ve been consistent running the ball,” senior fullback Travis Sivek said. “We wanted to focus on that and create a balanced attack based on Rob, Colby, myself, and the other backs. We also wanted to try to hit some passes, which we did. The one to Jeremy Doo was obviously a big play that helped us out a lot early in the game. Primarily we just wanted to make sure that we could run the ball consistently offensively.”

Bethany answered with a touchdown pass only to have the extra point fail, making it 7–6 Carnegie Mellon late in the first quarter. The Tartans began to pull away in the second quarter, scoring 21 straight points to increase their lead to 28–6 with just under four minutes to play in the half.

Sivek found the end zone on a 3-yard run to make it 14–6, then senior linebacker Jonathan Bodnar intercepted a pass for the third straight week. However, he went a step further Saturday and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.

Sivek added another touchdown run, this time from 20 yards out, to put Carnegie Mellon up by 22. Bethany mustered a late-second-quarter scoring drive of 92 yards to cut their deficit to 28–13 heading into halftime.

“I know I had a lot of huge holes,” Sivek said. “My 20-yard touchdown I know I wasn’t touched on, and that was right through the middle of their defense. That says a lot about our offensive line. They’ve been great all year and I know they’ll continue that next game.”

The third quarter was more Carnegie Mellon, and more Carnegie Mellon running the ball. Bethany couldn’t stop the tandem of Sivek and senior running back Robert Gimson. Sivek broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the second half, and Gimson scampered into the end zone from 15 yards out midway through the third quarter to increase the Tartan lead to 42–13.

Senior safety Jon Scholl came up big for the Tartan defense, intercepting a pass in the end zone, thwarting Bethany’s scoring opportunity. Gimson scored his touchdown six plays later. Bethany managed a fourth-quarter touchdown but had the extra point blocked, making the score 42–19.

“I think it’s crazy that, despite the fact that we are struggling passing, that we’re still able to run the ball so well on teams even though they know we’re sort of a one-dimensional attack,” Sivek said. “I think it’s great that we’re still able to run it, and it says a lot about our blocking and how we’re
consistently able to make all our blocks.”

Sivek and Gimson both rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth time this season. Gimson led the team with 140 yards on the ground, and Sivek was close behind with 131 yards to go with his three touchdowns. Sivek is now in 20th place on the NCAA Division III scoring list with 348 points for his career. Sivek is only 24 yards shy of the 4000-yard mark for a career.

This win guarantees the Carnegie Mellon team its 33rd consecutive non-losing season. “This win means a whole lot,” Sivek said. “It solidifies the non-losing season streak. [Overcoming] the adversity we had earlier in the year with four losses in a row, and to be able to fight back to be over .500 now, is really a great achievement for this team. Last year we were 10–0 and went to the playoffs, and that was a great achievement, but I think everyone on the team this year is very proud of our accomplishment to stay together, to keep fighting, and to keep winning and working hard. Everyone is focused to win one more and possibly have a chance at ECACs if everything else works out well.”

The football team will finish up the regular season Saturday in a game against Washington & Lee. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Gesling Stadium.