Tartans Win ECAC Legacy Bowl 48-13 Over Bridgewater State

Tartans Win ECAC Legacy Bowl 48-13 Over Bridgewater State

(NEW BRITAIN, Conn.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team competed in the 2015 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Legacy Bowl and defeated the Bears of Bridgewater State University, 48-13. The game was held on the campus of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. The game marked the Tartans' fourth appearance in an ECAC Bowl game as the program holds a mark of 3-1 in bowl contests.

Sophomore running back Sam Benger (Hingham, Mass.), who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Legacy Bowl, became the 21st player in Division III history to reach the 2,000-yard plateau. He ends the season with 2,092 rushing yards following a 190-yard effort on 34 carries and four scores. Benger also broke the school's single-season rushing touchdown mark, ending with 22. He passed the mark of 21 set by Brad Stanley in 2003.

The Tartans struck first scoring on a 2-yard run by Benger on the opening drive of the game.  The eight-play, 52-yard drive, started with a 38-yard kickoff return by senior Vince Demarchi (Chesterland, Ohio/West Geauga).

With 30 seconds left in the first quarter, Bridgewater knotted the score at 7-7, as Danny Higgins found Michael Viola on a 14-yard touchdown strike to the back corner of the end zone. The drive started with an interception by the Bears on their own 1-yard line by Kyle Dance.

On the ensuing kickoff, Carnegie Mellon senior Chris Herrera (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus) returned the ball 88 yards for a touchdown. It marked the Tartans first kickoff return for a score since the 2008 season when Chris Garcia returned a kick 85 yards against Hiram.

Carnegie Mellon extended its lead to 21-7 with 11:34 to play in the half when senior quarterback Andrew Hearon (Tulsa, Okla./Metro Christian Academy) found Herrera for a 50-yard touchdown.  

Benger struck again before the end of the half. The sophomore barreled in from 1-yard out with 34 seconds left for his second score of the game which pushed the score to 28-7 at the break.

On the second play of the third quarter, Higgins hit Travis Bassett on a 68-yard catch and run for a Bear score. The extra point was blocked by sophomore Drew Fitzmorris (Omaha, Neb./Westside) to leave the score 28-13 in favor of the Tartans.

The Tartans answered the Bears with a score on their next possession. Benger's third score, and second 1-yard touchdown, of the day pushed the Cardinal and Gray's lead to 35-13 with 10 minutes to play in the third quarter.  

Before the end of the third, Hearon hooked up with senior wide out Graham Schilling (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) for a 14-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good and the score was 41-13 at the conclusion of the quarter.

Benger added a fourth touchdown with just under three minutes to play in the game to seal the victory.  The sophomore capped off a 15-play, 97-yard drive that took 7:18 off the clock with a 2-yard run.

Carnegie Mellon racked up 493 yards of total offense to Bridgewater State's 372.  Hearon finished the day completing 14-of-22 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver John Prather (Olney, Md./Our Lady Of Good Counsel) turned in a career day with 112 yards and six receptions. Schilling tied the school's single-season reception record after finishing with three catches for 32 yards and a score. The senior finished with 50 receptions, tying the mark held by Brendon Howe set in 2009.

Fitzmorris led the Tartans defense with eight tackles and two blocked kicks while adding a pass break up. Junior defensive lineman Brian Khoury (Davenport, Iowa/Bettendorf) finished with seven tackles including one for a loss of three yards.

The Tartans finish their season with a record of 8-3 while the Bears end the year with a record of 7-4.

View photos by Sam McLaughlin Photography