(CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team traveled to 18th-ranked Thomas More College on Saturday, September 24 and dropped a 20-16 hard fought battle to the Saints in Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) play. Carnegie Mellon is now 1-2 overall and 1-1 in PAC play while the Saints improve to 3-1, 2-0.
On Thomas More's first possession, Saints quarterback Brenan Kuntz scampered 19 yards for a touchdown which capped off a seven-play, 83-yard drive. The extra-point hit the upright and the score was 6-0 five minutes into the contest.
Carnegie Mellon took a 7-6 lead with six minutes remaining in the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Alex Cline (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Jerome) found junior running back Sam Benger (Hingham, Mass.) in the flat for a 10-yard touchdown. Benger's score came two plays following a 27-yard punt return by senior Samer Abdelmoty (McLean, Va.) which started the Tartans' drive at the Saints' 12-yard line.
An interception by Thomas More's Austin Copeland led to a 9-yard touchdown run by C.T. Tarrant in the closing minute of the first quarter. Tarrent's run finished another seven-play scoring drive for the Saints that eclipsed 64 yards and took three minutes off the clock.
The Tartans controlled the bulk of the second quarter, putting together a 15-play, 73-yard drive that took 8:20 off the clock. The end result was a 35-yard field goal by senior placekicker Gabe Renna (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) that made the score 13-10.
Thomas More opened the second half with a 75-yard scoring drive that ended with a 16-yard run by Hjavier Pitts. The score pushed the home team's lead to 20-10 four minutes into the third quarter.
With 14 minutes to play in the contest, Renna chipped in a 21-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 20-13. The senior placekicker converted his third field goal of the contest with 7:50 to play to make the score 20-16, as his 31-yarder sailed through the uprights.
Carnegie Mellon totaled 296 yards of offense to Thomas More's 439. Cline finished the contest completing 19-of-34 passes for a career-best 242 yards and a touchdown. Cline was intercepted four times on the afternoon with three coming on tipped balls. Junior wide receiver John Prather (Olney, Md./Our Lady Of Good Counsel) caught seven passes for 71 yards and fellow junior wide out Tommy Mansfield (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central) totaled 73 yards on five receptions. Benger, the nation's leading rusher entering the game, finished with 55 yards on 22 carries, and added two catches for 21 yards.
Abdelmoty and junior Stanley Bikulege (Greer, S.C./Saint Joseph's Catholic) led the Tartan defense, as both recorded a career-best 12 tackles. Senior Aaryn Watson (Centennial, Colo./Grandview) and junior Kyle Brittain (Largo, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic) both had interceptions for the Tartans in the setback.
Tarrant led the ground attack for the Saints with 125 yards and a touchdown. Pitts ended the day with 70 yards and a score while Kuntz had 11 rushes for 41 yards and a score. Copeland led Thomas More with 11 tackles and two interceptions.
The Tartans return home on Saturday, October 1 to host Bethany College at 6:00 p.m. on the turf at Gesling Stadium.