(PHILADELPHIA, Pa.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team competed in the 2016 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Legacy Bowl on Sunday, and dropped a 52-20 decision to the Sea Gulls of Salisbury University. The game was held on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Carnegie Mellon took the opening kickoff and marched down the field to take the early 7-0 lead on a 7-yard touchdown run by junior running back Sam Benger (Hingham, Mass.) with 9:21 to play in the first quarter. On the 75-yard, 13-play drive, Benger accounted for 50 yards with 44 coming on the ground.
Salisbury wasted little time responding. On the Sea Gulls' second play from scrimmage, Brandon Lewis scampered 49 yards on the quarterback keeper to knot the score at 7-7. Early in the second quarter, the Sea Gulls took a 14-7 lead on a 24-yard run by Aaron Moore.
Following an interception in the end zone by Salisbury's Andre Boone, the Sea Gulls put together a 16-play, 80-yard drive to push the lead to 21-7 with less than two minutes to play in the half. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to Ryan Kolb.
After holding the Tartans to a three-and-out, the Sea Gulls extended their lead to 24-7 before the end of the first half. Salisbury's Alex Potocko connected on a 23-yard field goal with 15 seconds to play.
On the Sea Gulls' first two drives of the second half, Lewis added touchdown runs of 39 yards and 14 yards to push Salisbury's lead to 38-7 with four minutes to play in the third quarter.
With 1:41 remaining in the third quarter, Benger rushed for his second touchdown of the game to make the score 38-14. The junior's 3-yard score came a play following a 39-yard diving reception by junior wide receiver John Prather (Olney, Md./Our Lady Of Good Counsel).
A 13-yard touchdown pass from Vincent Fischetti to Moore to start the fourth quarter and an 18-yard run by Connor Canonico, following an interception by Zach Wolfrey, made the score 52-14 with 10 minutes to play.
Benger added his second 3-yard touchdown run and third score of the game with 6:13 to play. The failed two-point attempt left the score 52-20. Once again his score came on play after a long Prather reception, this time a 28-yard catch.
Carnegie Mellon totaled 365 yards of offense. Sophomore quarterback Alex Cline (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Jerome) completed 18-of-28 passes for 255 yards. Prather recorded his sixth career 100-yard receiving game, as the junior finished with 114 yards on seven catches. Benger rushed for three touchdowns and 90 yards on 21 carries.
Defensively, senior Samer Abdelmoty (McLean, Va.) led the Tartans with a career-best 14 tackles while junior Stanley Bikulege (Greer, S.C./Saint Joseph's Catholic) finished with nine.
Canonico, who was named Most Valuable Player, led the Sea Gulls with 202 yards rushing and a touchdown. The senior back carried the ball 28 times and averaged 7.3 yards per carry. Lewis rushed for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
The game marked the Tartans' fifth appearance in an ECAC Bowl game and they now hold a mark of 3-2 in bowl contests. The Tartans finish the season with a record of 7-4 while the Sea Gulls end the year with a record of 8-3.
View photos by One More Shot Photography