CMU football falls to Thiel despite converted onside kick

Sophomore safety Samer Abdelmoty carries the ball on a kick return. (credit: Staff Photographer) Sophomore safety Samer Abdelmoty carries the ball on a kick return. (credit: Staff Photographer)

The Carnegie Mellon football team lost to Thiel University on Saturday, 40–27. Thiel won the coin toss but deferred to the Tartans and defended the east goal. After a scoreless first quarter in which both teams dug in defensively, resulting in four consecutive three-and-outs, Carnegie Mellon went on a 26-yard drive which ended on a close miss just right of the goalpost from first-year punter/kicker Tyler Kohman from 32 yards out.

Thiel began the second quarter with an impressive 14-play, 80-yard drive in just under six minutes. After a 6-yard rush by Thiel, the team’s quarterback threw two consecutive incomplete passes, one of which was batted away by junior cornerback Vince Demarchi. On fourth and four at CMU’s 23-yard line, Thiel ran for the touchdown. The Thiel kicker was able to convert the point after attempt. The Tomcats continued their offensive production on a seven-play, 59-yard run that led to an 8-yard touchdown pass.

However, their point after attempt was blocked by junior cornerback Ryan Aitken. This play energized the Tartans, and on the following drive, they were able to lead a sequence of third- and fourth-down conversions (the latter of which came via a Thiel roughing the passer penalty), capped by a 1-yard rush by first-year running back Sam Benger for the touchdown. Kohman was able to convert the point after attempt.

Thiel had possession at the start of the second half, and quickly went on a five-play, 81-yard drive capped by a tremendous 53-yard pass. At the 8:35 mark, Thiel scored once again on a six-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 44-yard pass. However, this time Thiel failed the point after attempt. Carnegie Mellon was unable to close out the third quarter strongly, as their responding drive was cut short due to two sacks on junior quarterback Andrew Hearon.

Thiel started off the fourth by finishing up a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard rush by Thiel for the touchdown. The Tartans were able to strike back this time, completing a 14-play, 75-yard drive highlighted by fourth down conversions by Benger and Hearon and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Hearon to senior wide receiver Shae Sealey. Kohman’s point-after attempt failed, but he was able to capitalize on the next kickoff with a 14-yard onside kick that was recovered by Carnegie Mellon on their own 49-yard line. Hearon once again led the Tartan offense on a seven-play, 51-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 30-yard pass from Hearon to junior wide receiver Max Reinertsen. Kohman attempted another onside kick but this one was recovered by Thiel on their own 45-yard line. Thiel was able to respond to Carnegie Mellon’s two consecutive touchdown drives by going on a 55-yard scoring drive ending with an 8-yard touchdown rush with 58 seconds remaining. A scrambling Carnegie Mellon team went on a three-play, 54-yard run in only 44 seconds that was capped by junior quarterback Evan Englert’s pass to Reinertsen for a 19-yard touchdown. However, with only four seconds left on the clock after this run, Thiel was able to run out the clock for the victory.

The Tartans are now 3–5, (3–5). They will attempt to rebound as they continue their schedule against the University of Chicago on Saturday.