Football rebounds against PAC rival Geneva College

Sophomore cornerback Tyler Marmo pursues Geneva’s ballcarrier. (credit: Jeanette De La Torre-Duran/Junior Photographer) Sophomore cornerback Tyler Marmo pursues Geneva’s ballcarrier. (credit: Jeanette De La Torre-Duran/Junior Photographer)

The football team faced off against the Geneva College Golden Tornadoes at home on Saturday. The Tartans won the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) game 42–27 with career-high passing yards from junior quarterback Alex Cline, and great performances from the offense, defense, and special teams. With the victory, the Tartans move to a season record of 6–1 overall and 4–1 in the PAC.

Both teams began the game slow, unable to get past midfield on either of their first drives. On the Tartans’ second drive of the game, the offense took advantage of great field position to put up the first points of the game. Senior running back Sam Benger ran the ball in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown to complete the 7-play, 55-yard drive, bringing the score to 7–0. Geneva’s ensuing drive ended in a turnover deep in Carnegie Mellon territory. Sophomore cornerback Anthony Rennon caught his first career interception to put the ball back in Cline’s hands.

Six plays later, in the second quarter, Cline doubled the Tartans’ lead to 14–0 with a 7-yard pass to senior wide receiver Tommy Mansfield. Geneva responded on the very next play from scrimmage with a touchdown from a 77-yard breakout run from their running back to make the score 14–7. Not to be outdone, the Tartans offense immediately answered. Cline’s 61-yard strike to junior halfback Karl-Mark Kumm brought the score to 21–7, and the Tartans’ lead back to 14. After senior linebacker Sean Graff forced a fumble by Geneva, which was recovered by sophomore safety Parker Mellot, the Tartans offense added to the lead with a second touchdown from Benger, a 1-yard run to make the score 28–7. Near the end of the half, the Geneva offense connected for a touchdown to end the half with the score 28–14.

Geneva opened the second half with a long drive that consisted of 13 plays, all rushes, that ultimately resulted in no points for the visiting team. Starting the drive on their own 15-yard line, the Tartans marched down the field and finished the 10-play, 85-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Cline to Mansfield. The third quarter ended with the Tartans leading 35–14.

In the fourth quarter, Geneva found their footing again with a touchdown to cut the Tartans’ lead to 35–21. The subsequent kickoff fell into the hands of junior running back Rory Hubbard, who broke three tackles on his way up the sideline for a 92-yard touchdown return. The team’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2015 put the Tartans up 42–21. With six minutes left to play, Geneva added the final points of the game, a touchdown (followed by a failed extra point attempt), closing the game with the score to 42–27.

Cline, who did not play the fourth quarter, finished with a career-high 324 yards and added three touchdowns. Mansfield had 108 yards on six catches and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver John Prather also recorded a 100-yard game, his fourth in a row, with 123 yards on five catches. Benger led the Tartans’ running game with 86 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. Senior safety Drew Fitzmorris led the defense with 22 tackles.

The Tartans’ next two games will be on the road, beginning next week at Thiel College on Saturday, Oct. 21 in Greenville, PA. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.