Football falls to Case Western in Academic Bowl loss

On homecoming weekend, the football team fell to the Case Western Reserve University Spartans at Gesling Stadium in the 32nd Annual Academic Bowl on Saturday. The 41–34 thriller was the second to go into overtime in the history of the matchup and the first in a decade.

The Carnegie Mellon offense took the ball for the first time after Case Western’s opening drive ended with a missed field goal. Senior quarterback Bryan Jangro took his first snap of the season for a 41-yard pass to first-year wide receiver Alex Oshita, quickly putting the Tartans in Spartans territory. Jangro hadn’t played in the season due to injuries and ended senior day with one completion on one attempt. Junior quarterback Alex Cline, the Tartans’ usual starter, played for the remainder of the game.

The Tartans finished the drive with a 34-yard field goal by punter and kicker Tyler Kohman, getting on the board first, 3–0.

In the next series, the Tartans defense limited the Spartans to short rushes and an incomplete pass to force a punt. Cline took the ball back for the Tartans and led the team down the field. The 5:45-long drive ended at the beginning of the second quarter with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Cline to senior wide receiver Tommy Mansfield. The score increased the Tartans’ lead to 10–0.

The Spartans responded on the ensuing drive by marching in Tartans territory and scoring their first points of the game, cutting Carnegie Mellon’s lead to 10–7. After a Tartans three-and-out, the Spartans evened the game with a field goal on a 50-second drive, making the score 10–10. The Tartans’ following drive was ended by an interception by Cline, and the Spartans offense took over deep in Tartans territory at the 17-yard line. They took advantage of the turnover on a quarterback run for a touchdown to take the lead 17–10.

The next two drives were similar; after another Cline interception, the Spartans started into Tartans territory to score, this time a field goal to extend their lead to 10 points, adding to a total of 20 unanswered points. Trailing 20–10, the Tartans used their three timeouts in the final two minutes of the half to steadily make their way down the field, capping off a 10-play, 78-yard drive with a second touchdown from Cline to Mansfield and cut the lead to three. The half ended with the visitors leading 20–17.

The Tartans came out of halftime hoping to play aggressively and put more points on the board. However, the scoreless third quarter was made up of seven total series that ended in either a punt of a turnover. The Spartans broke through the stalemate in the beginning of the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass, bringing their lead back to 10, the score now 27–17. The Tartans answered to make the score 27–24 with a two yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Sam Benger.

With two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Tartans led 31–27 after an 11-yard rush from junior running back Rory Hubbard. With 22 seconds left, a Tartans punt was blocked and scooped up by Spartans special teams and returned for a touchdown. In two seconds, the Spartans were back in the lead, 34–31. A squib kick gave the Tartans the ball past midfield into Spartans territory. Kohman made a 43-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation to tie the game, 34–34, sending the game into overtime.

The Spartans received the ball first in overtime and scored a touchdown to go ahead 41–34. On the Tartan’s drive, Cline threw a six yard pass to junior halfback Karl-Mark Kumm on fourth down to extend the game. Facing another fourth down, nine yards out from the end zone and four yards from the first down, Benger got the ball but was stopped two yards short of the first down, ending the game. Case Western won 41–34.

Cline finished the game 25-for-44, a career-high 331 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. Mansfield had a career-high 131 yards on nine receptions and added a touchdown. Senior wide receiver had 88 yards on four catches. Benger led the team in rushing with 119 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown, his 59th rushing touchdown of his Carnegie Mellon career, tying the school record.

On defense, senior linebacker Kyle Brittain made a career-high 19 tackles, 10 solo, and recovered a fumble. Senior linebacker Sean Graff also had a career day, with 11 tackles, four solo.

The football team finished its regular season with an overall record of 7–3, 5–3 in Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) play, and 1–1 in University Athletic Association (UAA) play. The Tartans will learn on Monday, Nov. 13, at noon if they will continue their 2017 season in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Football Fest.