Carnegie Mellon football betrayed by sputtering offense

The Carnegie Mellon football team looked flat Saturday as it was handed a 28–7 loss by the University of Chicago.

Carnegie Mellon let up a touchdown in every quarter, and could not muster any points of its own until the team’s last drive in the fourth quarter. The Tartans had a particularly difficult time protecting junior quarterback Andrew Hearon, who was sacked nine times. He was under pressure on every play, and was forced into two ugly interceptions, one of which doomed Carnegie Mellon’s first of two trips to the red zone.

Carnegie Mellon’s first drive of the game took 5:10 off the clock. This might have been their best drive of the day, as they stayed on schedule and consistently picked up short gains, moving the chains and into the edge of Chicago’s red zone. However, two consecutive sacks on secondw and third downs dragged the Tartans from the 22-yard line all the way back to the 34, and they were forced to punt the ball away, coming up empty. The drive immediately following saw Chicago score a touchdown on a 50-yard run, setting the tone for a very long day for the Tartans’ defense.

As the first quarter came to a close, Carnegie Mellon’s offense stalled deep in their own territory, punting the ball away and giving Chicago excellent field position.
The Maroons capitalized and punched the ball in on a 15-yard crossing route, extending their lead to 14–0.

Both teams traded punts and fumbles, but neither offense could make any noise until the break, and the score stayed that way through halftime. The second half started differently. The Tartans defense could not get a stop, allowing Chicago to make consistent gains and passes for first down after first down. Even a holding penalty did not stop the Chicago offense, as an 11-yard touchdown pass put Chicago up three scores, seemingly putting the game out of reach for Carnegie Mellon. The Tartans responded well, however, putting up their longest drive on the day. They ran four plays for gains of 3, 17, 13, and 19 yards to set themselves up on Chicago’s 17-yard line before Hearon forced one into the end zone, turning the ball over and ceding Carnegie Mellon’s first real chance to score.

Afterwards, both teams traded punts, but an interception by first-year safety Drew Fitzmorris stopped a Chicago drive deep in Carnegie Mellon territory. The ensuing drive by the Tartans was moving down the field smoothly, but disaster struck at midfield, as Hearon’s second interception of the day was returned for a touchdown, burying Carnegie Mellon in a 28–0 hole.

By that point, the game was effectively over. Consecutive turnovers on downs gave Carnegie Mellon the ball with great field position, but only just over five minutes left. Carnegie Mellon quickly got deep into Chicago’s half of the field, setting up first and goal from the Chicago nine-yard line. An incompletion, sack, and another incompletion, however, left Carnegie Mellon staring down fourth-and-goal from the 18-yard line.

A desperate heave from Hearon somehow split two defenders and stuck to the hands of junior wide receiver Chris Herrera, but it was too little too late. Chicago ran the clock to its expiration on the following drive, capping a 28–7 loss for Carnegie Mellon. The loss leaves Carnegie Mellon at 3–6, (3–5), and finishes a winless slate of away games.

Carnegie Mellon will attempt to move to 4-1 at home and nab their first victory since a 21-10 win over Grove City on Oct. 18 in a UAA contest against Washington University next Saturday.