Football comes back in fourth quarter to tally win

There is a variety of sports clichés out there, one of which states that it’s not how you start, but rather how you finish. For the Carnegie Mellon football team Saturday, that cliché was the difference between a hard-earned win and a devastating loss to an inferior squad.

The Tartans (3–2) needed a second-half comeback to defeat the Lords of Kenyon College (1–4) by a score of 23–12. Carnegie Mellon would need two straight touchdowns to overcome a two-point deficit late in the third quarter. It was a brutal game marked by hard hits and special teams mistakes, but, ultimately, it would be decided by a superior defensive effort and a confident running game.

Carnegie Mellon got to work early, scoring on the team’s first possession of the game. Sophomore runner Anthony Ruzga punched it into the end zone from 2 yards out to score his fifth touchdown in as many games. The score capped off a 13-play, 82-yard drive that ate up over eight minutes off the clock.
Senior Colin Marks’ kick gave the Tartans a 7–0 lead.

Marks added a field goal from 29 yards out to give Carnegie Mellon a 10–6 halftime lead.

Kenyon College started the half with two straight field goals, taking the lead by a mark of 12–10. After Carnegie Mellon’s defense buckled down and forced a punt, senior Jake Cundiff botched the punt return, fumbling the ball for the second time in the game and turning it back over to the Lords.

“It’s really tough to win when you turn the ball over as much as we did today. It’s especially discouraging when it happens on a punt return and your defense has to return to the field after a long drive,” said senior defensive lineman Clayton Crites.

“Having that happen to us twice was pretty tough to deal with, but our defense stepped up and made the stops.”

It was Crites, along with junior Josh Kresge, who came up with the crucial stop on a Kenyon College fourth and three. The two defenders stuffed the Lords short of the first-down marker, turning the ball over on downs, and allowing the Tartan offense to get back to work. The turnover created a spark for the Tartan football team, as the offense took the field and moved 62 yards in eight plays en route to the end zone.

First-year running back Christopher Garcia ran the ball in from 8 yards out for his first career touchdown for the cardinal and grey. A failed two-point conversion attempt left the score at 16–12 in favor of Carnegie Mellon.

Three plays later, Kresge would muster up even more heroics to help seal the game for the Tartans. The junior safety picked off Kenyon quarterback Mike Hermanson at the 25-yard line, his fifth interception of the season. The turnover would set up Garcia’s second touchdown run of the day, this one from 11 yards. Marks’ kick pushed the Tartans’ lead to 23–12.

The Carnegie Mellon defense held Kenyon College down the rest of the way, allowing quarterback Phil Pantalone and company to simply run out the clock and seal the victory.

The Tartans travel to Allegheny College Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FSN Pittsburgh.