Football drops 19–10 decision at Grove City Saturday, tallies 1–1 record

Turnovers and a second-half collapse were the story on a humid, rainy Saturday, as the Carnegie Mellon football team suffered a tough road loss, 19–11, to Grove City College. The loss moved the Tartans' record back to 1–1. The Grove City Wolverines scored 16 straight second-half points to pull away in the game and even their record, which also stands at 1–1.

Everything looked to be going the Tartans' way in the first half, as the team managed to shut out the Wolverine offense for 30 minutes. They dominated time of possession in the first quarter, eating up 10 minutes and 19 seconds off the clock. Carnegie Mellon outgained Grove City in the half 125–67, including 85 yards on the ground. They took the lead on their second drive of the game with a 23-yard field goal by kicker Colin Marks. The senior knocked it through the uprights after a 7 play, 55-yard drive.

The rain contributed to the low score at half, turning the game into a defensive battle. Both teams struggled to gain any rhythm on offense, with the slippery conditions contributing to a heavy dose of the ground game by both sides. Unfortunately for Carnegie Mellon, the rain died down after halftime, and the Grove City Wolverines managed to find their footing.

“We felt good going into the half,” said senior defensive tackle Nick Wolff, who had four tackles in the game and a deflection that would lead to a second-half interception. “We played tough on both sides of the ball and felt like we’d put ourselves in a good position to win it in the second half.”

The Tartans would compromise that position when, on their second possession of the half, junior quarterback Phil Pantalone was picked off inside the 10-yard line by Grove City senior defensive back Zach Fulmer. Fulmer’s interception started a 12 play, 75-yard drive by the Wolverines, capped off by a 22-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Chris Haley.

With the score knotted at 3–3, Carnegie Mellon’s offense took the field to try and pull away, but they could only manage a 5 play, 17-yard drive before sophomore punter Mike Shedlosky had to kick it away to Grove City. The Wolverines would take the lead for good on the drive that followed. The offense marched down the field for 63 yards on 11 plays. Junior quarterback Andrew DiDonato found senior wide receiver Stephen Mercer in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown pass. After the extra point, the Grove City lead had pushed to 10-3.

Another Grove City touchdown, this one by senior runner Brian Mercer from nine yards out, and a failed extra point try would push the lead to 16-3. However, Carnegie Mellon refused to give in, running an explosive 4 play, 54 yard drive to bring the game to within striking distance. Sophomore runner Anthony Ruzga dominated on the drive, gaining 45 yards and capping it off with a three-yard score for the Tartans, cutting the lead to 16-10.

It was as close as Carnegie Mellon would get though, as Grove City managed to force a two-possession game on a Chris Haley 30-yard field goal with 2:12 left on the clock. With the score at 19-10 in favor of Grove City and only two minutes left in the game, the Tartans were a long shot to come back. Their next drive ended with Pantalone throwing his third and final interception of the game. The Wolverines kneeled on the ball to seal their first victory over the Tartans since 2004.

The Carnegie Mellon football home opener will kick off Saturday at 1 p.m. The Tartans will take on Hobart College at Gesling Stadium.