Football maintains perfect record in blowout victory

Senior running back Sam Benger breaks past Rochester’s defenders. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics) Senior running back Sam Benger breaks past Rochester’s defenders. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics)

On Saturday, the Carnegie Mellon football team scored their second win of the season, and first at home, with a dominant first-half performance against the University of Rochester Yellowjackets, opening the 2017 season 2–0. The offense was propelled by a four-touchdown game from senior running back Sam Benger, and by the defense, which forced a punt or turnover on downs in each of Rochester’s first half drives.

The Yellowjackets opened the game with the ball first, slowly making their way to midfield. After the Tartans’ defense stalled them at the Carnegie Mellon 47-yard line, the Yellowjackets were forced to punt. On the next play, the first of the game for the Carnegie Mellon offense, Benger broke free for a 92-yard touchdown. After another defensive stop near midfield by the Cardinal and Gray, the Tartans were back on offense. Powered by a pass interference penalty, the Tartans quickly found themselves deep in Rochester territory. With three minutes left in the first quarter, Benger added a second touchdown to double Carnegie Mellon’s lead with an 11-yard pass from junior quarterback Alex Cline. The first quarter ended with the Tartans leading 14–0.

The start of the second quarter was more of the same for the Yellowjackets, who turned the ball over on downs less than a minute into the quarter. The Tartans capitalized with Cline throwing his second touchdown of the game, an 18-yard dart to senior wide receiver John Prather, putting the team ahead 21–0. The Tartans’ dominance continued when sophomore Willie Richter returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown after a Rochester three-and-out. On the next Carnegie Mellon possession, Benger returned to the score line with a third touchdown, this time for 65 yards. The final drive of the half for the Tartans, after another Rochester three-and-out, saw Benger score a 21-yard touchdown, marking the game the fifth time in his career he scored four touchdowns. The half ended with the home team leading 42–0.

The Tartans started the second half with the ball, this time in the hands of senior quarterback Scot Beumel. Many of the team’s starters, including Benger, Cline, and Prather, rested during the second half. First-year quarterback JD Dayhuff and senior quarterback Andrew Nickell also played minutes in the third and fourth quarters. With six minutes left in the third quarter, Dayhuff fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Yellowjackets in Carnegie Mellon territory, their very first break in the game. On the ensuing drive, the Yellowjackets scored their first touchdown of the game, putting points on the visitor side of the scoreboard, making the score 42–7.

In the fourth quarter, the Yellowjackets finally started to show some life, though far too late, scoring a second touchdown after another Carnegie Mellon turnover. However, the Tartans maintained their 42–14 lead for the rest of the game.

The Tartans finished the game with 511 yards of total offense, dwarfing Rochester’s 263 yards. The Carnegie Mellon defense recorded 7 sacks of 31 yards for loss, and forced 7 punts. The Tartans did commit more turnovers, three to Rochester’s one.

Benger played only in the first half, but amassed 208 yards off 8 carries, 3 rushing touchdowns, and 1 passing touchdown. Prather had 76 yards from 5 catches and a touchdown. Cline went 9-for-14 passing for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. First-year wide receiver Alex Oshita saw action during the second half, catching 4 passed for 46 yards. On the defensive side, junior linebacker Quinn Zsido recorded 9 total sacks, 5 of them solo. First-year linebacker Mason Tolliver made 7 total tackles and also caught his first career interception.

The Tartans will next play against Waynesburg University on Saturday, Sept. 16.