(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team opened its home schedule with a 42-14 win over the University of Rochester on Saturday, September 9. Senior running back Sam Benger (Hingham, Mass.) recorded his fifth career four touchdown game, as he rushed for three and caught another. The senior ended the game with 208 yards rushing on eight carries, all in the first half, to lift the Tartans to their first 2-0 start since the 2012 season.
Benger started the scoring for the Tartans on their first play from scrimmage when he bolted 92 yards for the touchdown. The run tied the sixth longest rushing touchdown in President's Athletics Conference (PAC) history and was the lomgest of Benger's career. With three minutes left in the first quarter, Benger made the score 14-0 after grabbing junior quarterback Alex Cline's (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Jerome) pass and ran it from 11 yards out.
Cline's second touchdown toss of the game, this time an 18-yard strike to senior wide receiver John Prather (Olney, Md./Our Lady Of Good Counsel), three minutes into the second quarter put the home team on top 21-0.
After the Tartan defense held the Yellowjackets to a three-and-out, sophomore Willie Richter (Leander, Texas/Cedar Park) returned a punt 86 yards for another Carnegie Mellon score to extend the lead to 28-0. The touchdown return marked the longest for a Tartan since Sam Thompson's 92-yard return in 2012 and is the 10th longest punt return for a touchdown in PAC history.
Benger added two more touchdown runs before the half came to a close. The first was a 65-yard run and the second was a 21-yard score to give the Cardinal and Gray a 42-0 lead at the break.
Rochester added a touchdown in each of the third and fourth quarters to make the score 42-14. With four minutes to play in the third, Tyler Tanen caught a 7-yard pass from Josh Brown. On the Yellowjackets next possession, Brown threw his second score of the game when he found Daniel Bronson on a 14-yard strike. Both Rochester touchdowns were setup by Tartan turnovers.
Carnegie Mellon compiled 511 yards of total offense with 319 coming on the ground. The Tartan defense held Rochester to 263 yards of total offense and recorded seven sacks, one off the school record of eight set last season.
Cline finished the game with 146 yards on 9-of-14 passing and two touchdowns. Prather hauled in five catches for 76 yards and a score to lead the Tartan receivers. Freshman Alec Oshita (Torrance, Calif./Mira Costa) recorded four catches for 46 yards.
Junior linebacker Quinn Zsido (New Windsor, N.Y./Cornwall Central) led the defense with a career-high nine tackles, five solo, and 2.0 sacks. Senior linebacker Quentin Wolfe (Round Rock, Texas/Stony Point) posted eight tackles and tied a career-best with 1.5 sacks. Freshman Mason Tolliver (Sylmar, Calif./Crespi) recorded the Tartans loan turnover with his first career interception. The freshman also added seven tackles in the win.
Carnegie Mellon will open PAC play on Saturday, September 16 when they travel to Waynesburg University for a 1:30 p.m. kick.