Benger, Khoury and Renna Set Single-Season School Records as Football Wins at Thiel

Benger, Khoury and Renna Set Single-Season School Records as Football Wins at Thiel

(GREENVILLE, Pa.) – Sophomore running back Sam Benger (Hingham, Mass.), junior defensive lineman Brian Khoury (Davenport, Iowa/Bettendorf) and junior placekicker Gabe Renna (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) each set single-season school records, as the Carnegie Mellon University football team defeated the Thiel College Tomcats, 73-19, on Saturday, October 31 in Greenville, Pa.  The Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) win marks the Tartans fourth straight and moves their record to 5-3 and 5-2 in PAC play while Thiel is now 1-7, 0-6.   

Benger becomes Carnegie Mellon's single-season rushing leader, after he finished the game with 166 yards and three touchdowns.  The sophomore has rushed for 1,453 yards this season, surpassing Travis Sivek's single-season mark of 1,326 set during the 2006 season.  Khoury set the school's single-season sack record after tabbing 3.0 sacks.  The junior has 13.5 sacks on the season and breaks the mark of 11.0 sacks held by Chris Balouris in 1989 and Anima Nwankwo in 1998.  Renna converted all eight of his extra point attempts and now has 36 on the season passing the previous mark of 32 held by Nate Greenstein set in 2006.

The 73 points scored is the second most in school history.  The most scored was 88 by the Tartans in 1915.   

Renna started the scoring when he gave Carnegie Mellon an early 3-0 lead after the Tartans defense held the Tomcats to a three-and-out.  Renna capped off a nine-play drive with a 21-yard field goal five minutes into play.  

Thiel took advantage of Carnegie Mellon's second turnover of the game and marched 90 yards on eight plays resulting in a 14-yard touchdown pass by Ryan Radke to Cody Dinger. The extra point put the home team ahead 7-3 as the first quarter came to a close.

Carnegie Mellon wasted little time answering the Tomcats score.  The Tartans regained the lead with 13:05 to play in the first half when sophomore quarterback Bryan Jangro (Jessup, Md./Mount Saint Joseph) connected with sophomore wide receiver John Prather (Olney, Md./Our Lady Of Good Counsel).  The 29-yard tipped touchdown reception made the score 10-7.   

On Thiel's ensuing possession Radke threw his second touchdown of the game when he found Ron Howard on an 11-yard strike.  For the second straight game, Tartan senior Vince Demarchi (Chesterland, Ohio / West Geauga) blocked a point after attempt and the score stayed 13-10.

The Thiel lead was one that was once again not held long, as Benger's 25-yard touchdown run on the Tartans next drive put the visitor's back on top 17-13.  Benger added his second rushing score of the game when he scampered around the right side for 16 yards to make the score 24-13 with 3:24 to play in the half.  His second score was setup up when Khoury sacked Radke and forced a fumble that was recovered by Carnegie Mellon's junior linebacker Sam Rylowicz (Winfield, Ill./West Chicago Community) at midfield seven plays prior.

The Tartans opened the second half with three touchdowns over the first 5:34 of play.  The first came on the opening possession with an eight-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass by senior quarterback Andrew Hearon (Tulsa, Okla./Metro Christian Academy) to senior wide out Graham Schilling (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional).  The tandem struck again a minute later to put the Tartans ahead, 38-13, this time on a 9-yard score.  The second touchdown followed a 34-yard fumble return by Khoury after senior corner back Ryan Aitken (Alexandria, Va./West Potomac) stripped the ball out of the hands of the Tomcats running back.

Carnegie Mellon's third score of the half came off another forced turnover.  Junior Aaryn Watson (Centennial, Colo./Grandview) set the Tartans up on the Thiel 12-yard line after returning his first career-interception 15 yards.  On the next play Benger took it in for his third score of the game and made the score 45-13 with 9:26 to play in the third quarter.

Freshman Rory Hubbard (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula) and Jangro scored on touchdown runs for the Tartans before the end of the third quarter to push the score to 59-13.  Hubbard sprinted 56 yards while Jangro scored on an 8-yard run.

Junior running back Mike Minjock (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) and sophomore back Devin Cortese (Orlando, Fla./Freedom) added fourth quarter scores for Carnegie Mellon to close the scoring.  Minjock plunged through the line for a 4-yard score while Cortese jolted 58 yards.

Carnegie Mellon totaled 621 yards of offense to Thiel's 353 with 428 yards coming on the ground for the Tartans.  It marked the fourth time this season the Tartans gained over 500 yards of total offense.  Jangro threw for 100 yards and a touchdown on 7-of-7 passing while Hearon ended with 93 yards and two touchdowns, connecting on 7-of-14 attempts.  Hubbard, Minjock and Cortese recorded a career-high in rushing with each adding a touchdown.  Hubbard rushed for 90 yards, Minjock totaled 53 and Cortese had 67.  Prather led the Tartan receivers with 89 yards, five receptions and a score and Schilling ended the game with six catches for 56 yards and two scores.

The Tartans defense forced five turnovers and were led by sophomore Drew Fitzmorris (Omaha, Neb./Westside) and Khoury.  Fitzmorris totaled six tackles and recorded his sixth interception of the season, one shy of tying the single-season record.  Khoury had 3.0 sacks for a loss of 26 yards and finished with four tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

The Tartans return home for a University Athletic Association contest against the University of Chicago on Saturday, November 7.  Kick is set for 12:00 p.m. on the turf of Gesling Stadium.