(NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team traveled north to play Westminster College on Saturday, October 3 and dropped a 26-16 Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) contest. The Tartans are now 1-3 overall and 1-2 in PAC play while Westminster improves to 3-2, 2-1.
Westminster took the opening kick and drove 86 yards on 11 plays resulting in a 1-yard touchdown run by Kimu Kim. The Titans converted the two-point try to make the score 8-0 5:41 into play.
Carnegie Mellon's junior defensive back Samer Abdelmoty (McLean, Va.) setup the visitor's first points of the afternoon after returning an interception 64 yards. Four plays later, junior placekicker Gabe Renna's (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) 32-yard field goal made the score 8-3 as the first quarter came to a close.
Following a Tartan interception by senior corner back Ryan Aitken (Alexandria, Va./West Potomac) in the end zone on the ensuing possession, Westminster pushed its lead to 10-3 on an errant snap that went out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The Titans then made the score 13-3 nine plays later when Justin Dahl's 37-yard field sailed through the uprights.
The Tartans cut into the Titans lead before the first half came to a close. Senior quarterback Andrew Hearon (Tulsa, Okla./Metro Christian Academy) connected with senior wide out Graham Schilling (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) with 1:38 left in the half on a 14-yard touchdown strike. The extra point try was blocked which left the score 13-9.
Carnegie Mellon capitalized on the Titans third turnover of the game. A play after sophomore Jacob Johnson (Terre Haute, Ind./Terre Haute South Vigo) recovered a fumbled punt that was forced by junior Zach Cree (Vanderbilt, Pa./Connellsville Area), sophomore running back Sam Benger (Hingham, Mass.) scampered nine yards for a touchdown. Benger's score gave the Tartans their first lead of the game, 16-13, two minutes into the second half.
On the second play of the fourth quarter, Westminster regained the lead. Paul Columbo hooked up with Larees Jackson on a 33-yard catch and run for a Titan score. The score was 19-16 after the missed extra point.
Late in the fourth quarter, Kim ran for his second score of the game to preserve the Westminster victory. Kim's score was a 4-yard run which made the score 26-16 with 1:39 to play.
The Tartans were outgained 486-197 while Westminster controlled the clock as well, 35:28 to 24:32. The Tartans forced four Titan turnovers, but managed to score just 10 points. Benger, the nation's leading rusher, was held to 83 yards rushing on 26 carries and a touchdown. Hearon finished with 133 yards passing and one touchdown.
Defensively, sophomore Drew Fitzmorris (Omaha, Neb./Westside) recorded 13 tackles, including a career-high 11 solo. It marked the first time a Tartan recorded double-digits in solo tackles since Jon Scholl recorded 11 at Hobart in 2007. Aitken totaled nine tackles, seven solo, an interception and forced a fumble.
Columbo passed for 188 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 100 yards on eight carries. Dominigue McKinley totaled 113 yards rushing on 23 carries for the Titans. On the defense, Mac Quinn posted a game-high 16 tackles for Westminster.
Carnegie Mellon returns home next Saturday to play Bethany College. The Homecoming contest is set to kickoff at 6:00 p.m.