(NEWARK, Del.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team competed in the 2017 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Asa S. Bushnell Bowl and fell to the Mules of Muhlenberg College, 32-6. The game was held on the campus of the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware.
Following an interception by Carnegie Mellon senior linebacker Sean Graff (Oswego, Ill.), the Tartans put together an 11-play, 59-yard drive that resulted in a 29-yard field goal by senior Tyler Kohman (Pataskala, Ohio/Columbus Academy). Kohman's kick gave the Cardinal and Gray a 3-0 lead with 3:29 to play in the first quarter.
Muhlenberg took a 7-3 lead with 2:43 left in the half when Michael Hnatkowsky connected with Josiah Wright on a 49-yard catch and run. The Mules intercepted Cline on the Tartans first play of the ensuing possession and took over on the Carnegie Mellon 15-yard line. The Tartans defense held the Mules to a field goal, as the 24-yard boot by Todd Spirt made the score 10-3 with 1:21 on the clock.
With seven minutes to play in the third quarter, Muhlenberg extended its lead to 17-3 with a 2-yard run by Matthew Stickney. A 28-yard field goal by Kohman with 1:44 to play in the third put the score at 17-6.
The Mules responded and pushed their lead to 23-6 on the next possession. A nine-play, 79-yard drives was capped off with a 5-yard touchdown run by James Diggs at the 12:35 mark of the fourth quarter. A safety by the Mules and another touchdown run by Diggs, this time a 2-yard run, left the score at 32-6 with 6:49 to play.
Junior quarterback Alex Cline (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Jerome) became the school's single-season passing leaded after throwing for 178 yards. The signal caller finished the season with 2,336 yards and passed Andrew Hearon's mark of 2,201 yards set in 2015.
Junior wide receiver Karl-Mark Kumm (Brick, N.J./Brick Township) had a career-high seven receptions for career-best 80 yards while senior wide receiver John Prather (Olney, Md./Our Lady Of Good Counsel) finished with 38 yards and four catches.
Senior running back Sam Benger (Hingham, Mass.) led the Tartans rushing attack with 70 yards and ends the season with 1,053 yards, becoming the first back in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in three straight seasons.
Benger and Prather both finish their careers as the program's all-time leader at their respective positions. Benger rushed for 5,376 yards and 59 touchdowns while Prather recorded 3,077 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns.
Defensively, junior cornerback Ethan Anderson (McMurray, Pa./Peters Township) led the Tartans with 10 tackles, six solo. Graff ended with nine while seniors Stanley Bikulege (Greer, S.C./Saint Joseph's Catholic), Kyle Brittain (Largo, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic) and Drew Fitzmorris (Omaha, Neb./Westside) each finished with seven.
Muhlenberg's Amir Blair was named Most Valuable Player after recording a safety, interception, pass breakup, two tackles for a loss and eight total tackles, six solo. Diggs led the Mules offense with 75 yards rushing on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Hnatkowsky ended the game passing for 165 yards after completing 12-of-20. He also recorded 60 yards on the ground.
The Tartans finish their season with a record of 7-4 while the Mules end the year with a record of 8-3.