Sports

Tartan football earns first win at home over Waynesburg

Junior running back Sam Benger bursts through the defense of Waynesburg in the Tartans' victory on Saturday. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics) Junior running back Sam Benger bursts through the defense of Waynesburg in the Tartans' victory on Saturday. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics)

On Saturday, the Carnegie Mellon football team faced off against the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets. The Tartans won the game 35–23, improving to 1–1 overall and 1–0 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC).

The Tartan offense did not have a great first drive, having to punt after getting one first down. Waynesburg immediately gave the ball back as junior outside linebacker Quentin Wolfe recovered a fumble, and junior quarterback Bryan Jangro was able to get a touchdown two plays later, putting the Tartans up by seven points. On the next drive, the Tartan defense forced the Yellow Jackets to punt, but first-year running back William Richter returned the ball for 30 yards into Waynesburg territory. Waynesburg’s defense, however, was able to stuff junior running back Sam Benger, and Jangro was unable to get a completion on third down.

The Tartans decided to go for it, but Jangro was unable to escape the pocket, giving the football right back to the Yellow Jackets. Wolfe was able to bail the offense out as he sacked Waynesburg’s quarterback on third down, forcing them to punt.

Richter made another great return into Waynesburg territory, and though the Tartans were unable to convert on third down, sophomore running back Rory Hubbard ran on fourth down all the way to the goal line. On the next play, Jangro underthrew the football, resulting in an interception, but the Tartan defense was once again able to force Waynesburg to punt. Benger was able to get some success against the Yellow Jacket defense on the next drive, especially on a draw play that ended the first quarter.

The Tartans were unable to progress at the start of the second quarter, punting it away. After the defense retrieved the ball for the Tartans, the Tartan offense once again fizzled. Instead of punting it away, senior running back Mike Minjock received a direct snap, making a first down for the Tartans. Jangro still seemed to have some troubles with accuracy, but junior wide receiver John Prather was able to make a key first down after making a difficult catch. The Tartans had a chance for a touchdown, but Jangro overthrew his man. The Tartans later tried a field goal, but the ball sailed left. Waynesburg then marched down the field, making it into the endzone and tying the game up 7–7. The Tartan offense wasn’t able to do anything on their next drive, and Waynesburg managed the remaining time on the clock to their advantage: getting all the way to the Tartan goal line for a field goal attempt that sailed wide left, keeping the game tied up the end of the first half.

The Yellow Jackets took to the offense again in the second half, but the Tartan defense was able to stop them. The ball changed sides several times more as each offense tried to break the stalemate. Disaster looked like it had stricken when Jangro took a heavy sack, but sophomore quarterback Alex Cline was able to get a third down conversion before Benger was finally able to break free and score a touchdown, putting the Tartans up 14–7.

The Yellow Jackets got the ball back with good field position after a kickoff return brought them to the 42-yard line, but they once again went nowhere. The Tartan offense was pinned deep and didn’t dare to try anything risky. After getting the ball back in Tartan territory, the Yellow Jackets looked like they would once again fizzle before making a huge third and long conversion. Waynesburg made it down to the goal line, but the Tartan defense forced them to settle for a field goal, their lead slimming to 14–10. On the next drive, Cline tried to get the ball out, but he fumbled as he was taken down, and Waynesburg got the football back at the end of the quarter.

The Yellow Jackets wasted no time getting the ball into the end zone as the fourth quarter began, getting a completion that put them up 17–14. After a 27-yard kickoff return by Richter, Prather hauled in a pass and went for over 50 yards into Waynesburg’s red zone. The Tartans kept pushing forward, and on third and goal, Cline threw the ball to the left end of the end zone where Prather was able to haul it in to put the Tartans up 21–17.

The Tartan defense once again stopped the Waynesburg offense, and Richter brought the ball back to the Yellow Jackets’ side of the field. The Tartans looked like they had gotten a long completion, but it was ruled out of bounds, resulting in another punt that pinned the Yellow Jackets within their 10-yard line. Waynesburg was once again unable to get anything done on offense, and the Tartans went to work at killing the clock. Benger and Hubbard got the Tartans to the goal line before junior wide receiver Alex Froimzon made a one handed catch for a touchdown, putting the Tartans up 28–17.

Waynesburg wasn’t done fighting, taking the next kickoff past the 50-yard line. They quickly advanced further, and got a touchdown pass to cut the Tartans’ lead to 28–23. The Yellow Jackets tried and failed a two-point conversion, even after a holding call against the Tartans gave them a second chance at the attempt. Though the game plan for the next drive was milking more time off the clock, Benger found tons of open room and made a 64-yard run, and Hubbard took it in to the end zone a few plays later, giving the Tartans an insurmountable 35–23 lead going into the latter part of the competition.

Waynesburg’s return man had a chance for a kickoff return touchdown, but junior punter and kicker Tyler Kohman took him down, even though he had to commit to a horse collar tackle to do so. Kohman’s tackle eliminated any last hopes the Yellow Jackets had as time ran out.
This game was a tough fight from start to finish. For much of the game, Waynesburg was able to hold Benger in check, forcing Jangro to try and make something happen himself. Jangro took a particularly heavy hit that forced him to leave the game, though hopefully he will recover soon.
Despite the tough fight Waynesburg put up, the Tartans held a clear edge on special teams as Kohman forced the visitors to fight harder for yardage and Richter gave the Tartan offense good field position. Cline was able to energize the offense, and the efforts of his passing game allowed Benger and Hubbard to break loose in the end. The Tartans will be up for some tough battles in the games to come, but they proved today that they have the fortitude to keep pressing forward.

The Tartans will next play at Thomas More College on Saturday, Sept. 24.