Sports

Longest CMU field goal ever catapults Tartans to 27–24 victory

Sophomore defensive end Jack Fagan makes a tackle. (credit: Kevin Zheng/) Sophomore defensive end Jack Fagan makes a tackle. (credit: Kevin Zheng/) First-year Safety Drew Fitzmorris carries the ball.  He was accoladed three times this week for his stellar play in the Tartans’ previous game.  (credit: Kevin Zheng/) First-year Safety Drew Fitzmorris carries the ball. He was accoladed three times this week for his stellar play in the Tartans’ previous game. (credit: Kevin Zheng/)

The Carnegie Mellon football team wrapped up an undefeated home stand against Westminster on Saturday to pull their record for the season to an even 2–2. After a slow offensive start, Carnegie Mellon rode a solid performance by their defense and Westminster mistakes to an exciting 27–24 win.

The first half opened with traded punts, and neither team was able to establish much of a start offensively. On Westminster’s second offensive drive, junior outside linebacker Nico Comsa jumped a route near the Carnegie Mellon sideline and returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown, setting the tone for a very good defensive half for Carnegie Mellon. Westminster had one threatening drive in the first half, but senior defensive tackle Johnathan Tanner burst into the backfield and stripped the ball, recovering the fumble and ending Westminster’s possession at Carnegie Mellon’s four-yard line. Outside of that drive, Westminster managed less than 90 yards of offense in the entire half. Due to both the swarming defense from Carnegie Mellon and a missed 45-yard field goal, Westminster was unable to get more than a field goal on the board in the first half. The Carnegie Mellon offense had trouble moving the ball as well, and the defensive score accounted for their lone points of the first half.

The second half went much differently. Westminster’s first drive of the half went 78 yards for a touchdown. The ensuing extra point attempt failed, but still gave Westminster a 9–7 lead that they would keep until Carnegie Mellon pulled ahead on a field goal several minutes later.

The game sped up from that point. Westminster scored a touchdown on a pass to the corner of the endzone that split the Carnegie Mellon secondary. For the two-point conversion attempt, Westminster lined up their offensive line all the way on the left side of the field, but the throw came over the middle and put Carnegie Mellon in a seven-point hole with 3:40 left in the third.

Carnegie Mellon answered with a great kick return by first-year running back Sam Benger, setting Carnegie Mellon up at the Westminster 21. Sophomore running back Zach Cree carried the ball across the goal line to capitalize on the excellent field position and tied the game at 17.

After a series of traded punts, Westminster broke the deadlock with just over five minutes left in the contest with a touchdown pass. Carnegie Mellon answered by going to the hurry-up offense, but the drive stalled on the Westminster 36-yard line after a turnover on downs. The defense remained stout, however, and forced Westminster into a three-and-out on the following drive, getting Carnegie Mellon the ball back with just under three minutes left on the clock.

Hearon completed three consecutive passes and scrambled to set Carnegie Mellon up on the Westminster 25-yard line, where he delivered a strike to first-year wide receiver John Prather in the endzone. The pass was broken up by a blatant defensive pass interference penalty, setting up Carnegie Mellon with the ball on the one yard-line. Hearon then completed the touchdown pass to senior tight end Hayden Cardiff. The extra point was good, and the game was tied at 21 with 43 seconds remaining.

Westminster’s attempt at a game-winning drive got off to a quick start with two straight completed passes going out of bounds and setting up Westminster at their own 41-yard line, not too far off from field goal range. The third pass, however, floated through the air and landed directly in the hands of junior cornerback Ryan Aitken, setting up Carnegie Mellon with excellent field position but only 19 seconds to try and push the ball for a game-winning score.

Carnegie Mellon’s game-winning drive did not start well. A dropped pass, a short run, and a sack set Carnegie Mellon up with one second left on the clock. The hail mary pass was foiled when Westminster got into the backfield and took down Hearon for a sack to force overtime, but a facemask penalty gave Carnegie Mellon 15 yards and one untimed down to finish the game. After initially sending the offense onto the field, first-year kicker Tyler Kohman came out to attempt a 50-yard field goal to give Carnegie Mellon the win.

The kick cut through the wind and rain to bounce off the cross bar and through, giving Carnegie Mellon a 27–24 win.

The kick came on the heels of Kohman winning the President’s Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Week for his excellent punting against Geneva College.

The field goal was the longest in Carnegie Mellon
history.

After winning two nail biters at home, Carnegie Mellon football will attempt to keep the momentum going when it travels to West Virginia to face Bethany College next Saturday.