Benger Records 204 Yards Rushing in Setback at Washington U.

Benger Records 204 Yards Rushing in Setback at Washington U.

(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team opened its 2015 season on Saturday, September 5 with a 45-24 setback at Washington University in St. Louis, despite sophomore running back Sam Benger's (Hingham, Mass.) career day.  Benger finished the game with 204 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Washington wasted little time getting on the scoreboard marching 80 yards on six plays resulting in a 17-yard touchdown strike to Mitch McMahon from J.J. Tomlin.  The extra point made the score 7-0, 1:28 into play.  

Carnegie Mellon answered the Bears on the ensuing possession with a 14-play, 74-yard drive, ending with a touchdown toss of its own when senior quarterback Andrew Hearon (Tulsa, Okla./Metro Christian Academy) connected with senior wide out Graham Schilling (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) from 14 yards out.  Hearon kept the drive going after rushing for nine yards on a 4th-and-7 three plays prior.

Two first quarter mishaps by the Tartans following their score resulted in 10 additional points for the Bears, as the home team led 17-7 at the end of the first.

On the second play of the second quarter, junior placekicker Gabe Renna (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) booted a career-long 45-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 17-10.  It took two plays for the Bears to extend their lead back to two scores.  Tomlin tossed his second score of the afternoon, this time a 90-yard catch and run to Hank Childs.  

The Tartans put together their third 10-play plus drive of the first half to cut the lead back to seven at 24-17 with 8:46 to play.  The 12-play, 73-yard drive ended when Hearon and Schilling hooked up for their second score of the game.

In the closing minute of the first half, Tomlin threw his third touchdown of the stanza.  The junior signal caller found Kevin Hammarlund from 26 yards away to give the home team a 31-17 edge at the half.

At the break the two teams accounted for 622 yards of total offense with Washington holding the edge 325-297.  Benger carried the ball 16 times in the first half for 110 yards while Schilling led the Carnegie Mellon receivers with six catches for 95 yards and two scores.  

Benger continued his strong running in the second half, as he broke outside the line midway through the third quarter for a 54-yard touchdown cutting the score to 31-24.  Tomlin and Hammarlund's second touchdown connection of the game, a 52-yard bubble screen on the Bears next possession, pushed the home team's lead back to 14 at 38-24.

The Tartans hope of a comeback came to a close following an 88-yard interception return for a touchdown by Quincy Marting with 7:48 remaining in the game.

Carnegie Mellon held the edge in total offense 519-512.  It was the most yards recorded in total offense for the Tartans since 2012 when the Tartans managed 534 yards against DePauw.  

Benger's 204 yards were three yards shy of the school's single-game rushing record.  The sophomore ended the game averaging 7.3 yards per carry.  Hearon threw for a career-best 286 yards on 27-of-46 passing and two touchdowns.  Both scores for Hearon were to the Tartans top receiver Schilling who ended with career-highs of eight catches for 107 yards and two scores.   Sophomore wide receiver John Prather (Olney, Md./Our Lady Of Good Counsel) also recorded career-bests with nine receptions for 94 yards.

Tomlin converted 26-of-36 for 399 yards and four touchdowns for the Bears.  Hammarlund was Tomlin's top receiver with nine catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns.  Childs finished with 106 yards receiving and a score.
Defensively, sophomore Drew Fitzmorris (Omaha, Neb./Westside) led the Tartans with a game-high 10 tackles, eight solo.

The Tartans will be idle next week before opening Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) play at home against #15 Washington and Jefferson on September 19.  Kick is slated for 1:00 p.m. at Gesling Stadium.