(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team hosted Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) and University Athletic Association (UAA) rival Case Western Reserve University in the 32nd Annual Academic Bowl on Saturday, November 11. The Tartans dropped a 41-34 heartbreaker in overtime to the Spartans. The contest counts towards both the PAC and UAA standings. It marked the second overtime game between the two schools with the other coming in 2007.
With 2:15 remaining in the game, junior Rory Hubbard (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula) gave the Tartans a 31-27 lead on an 11-yard run. The Cardinal and Gray defense forced the Spartans to turn the ball over on downs following a pair of sacks with the last coming by sophomore Michael Lohmeier (Clarendon Hills, Ill./Hinsdale Central) with 1:23. The Tartans then took over on the Case Western Reserve 45-yard line, but were forced to punt following a stoppage of the clock for an unsportsmanlike penalty and a Spartans timeout. With 22 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Zach Lyon broke through the line and blocked the Tartan punt which was then scooped up at the Tartans' 3-yard line by Justin Phan and returned for the touchdown. The score put the Spartans on top 34-31.
On the ensuing kickoff from the Spartan 20-yard line following a celebration penalty, a squib kick gave the home team the ball on the Case Western Reserve 41-yard line. The Tartans pushed the ball to the 25-yard line to set up a 43-yard game tying field goal by senior Tyler Kohman (Pataskala, Ohio/Columbus Academy). Kohman's field goal sailed through the uprights with 2 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, Case Western Reserve quarterback Rob Cuda converted a key fourth-and-12 play from the Carnegie Mellon 27-yard line with a 13 yard pass to Phan. Two plays later, Cuda and Phan hooked up again, this time from five yards out, giving the Spartans a 41-34 lead after the extra point. The Tartans converted a fourth-and-six to keep the overtime alive when junior quarterback Alex Cline (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Jerome) connected with junior H-back Karl-Mark Kumm (Brick, N.J./Brick Township). Carnegie Mellon pushed the ball to the Spartans' 9-yard line and were faced with another fourth down, needing four yards. Senior running back Sam Benger (Hingham, Mass.) got the call and was stopped two yards shy of the first down which gave Case Western Reserve the win.
Carnegie Mellon outgained the Spartans 496-450 in total offense. Cline completed 25-of-44 and threw for a career-high 331 yards and had two touchdowns. Senior Tommy Mansfield (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville Central) was the Tartans leading receiver with career highs of 131 yards and nine receptions. The senior also had a touchdown. Benger ended the day with 119 yards on 29 carries and a score. Benger's score marked his 59th rushing touchdown of his career, tying the school record held by Travis Sivik (2004-07).
Defensively, senior outside linebacker Kyle Brittain (Largo, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic) turned in career day with 19 tackles, 10 solo. Senior linebacker Sean Graff (Oswego, Ill.) also tabbed a career-best 11 tackles.
Cuda finished the game 10-for-26 for 171 yards and two touchdowns while running for 116 yards and another score. Jacob Burke had 164 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Phan caught six passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Carnegie Mellon got on the scoreboard first with a 34-yard field goal by Kohman with 7:44 to play in the first quarter. Kohman's kick capped off a nine-play, 63-yard drive that started with a 41-yard pass from senior quarterback Bryan Jangro (Jessup, Md./Mount Saint Joseph) to freshman wide out Alec Oshita (Torrancs, Calif./Mira Costa).
On the second play of the second quarter, the Tartans finished off a 13-play, 87-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown strike from Cline to Kumm. The score pushed the home teams lead to 10-0.
Case Western Reserve responded with 20 unanswered points with scores on each of its next four possessions with the latter two scores coming off Tartan turnovers. The first score was a 1-yard run by Burke and the second on a 32-yard field goal by Ben Carniol, which knotted the score at 10-10 with nine minutes to play in the half. The third was a 7-yard run by Cuda before Carniol connected on his second field goal, this one a 30-yarder, with 2:08 on the clock to give the Spartans a 20-10 advantage.
The Cardinal and Gray put their two-minute offense in gear and cut the deficit to 20-17 before heading into the locker room. Cline connected with Mansfield on a 9-yard touchdown pass to the back corner of the end zone with 10 seconds to play in the second quarter.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Spartans extended their lead to 27-17 on a 36-yard pass from Cuda to Phan with 13:13 left in regulation. Carnegie Mellon made the score 27-24 on a Benger's 2-yard scoring run with 10:52 to play, setting up the wild ending to the contest.
Carnegie Mellon concludes its regular season with a 7-3 overall mark, including a 5-3 record in the PAC and 1-1 in UAA play while Case Western Reserve ends its season at 10-0, 8-0 and 2-0.
Carnegie Mellon will learn if its season continues on Monday, November 13 when the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) announces its field at 12:00 p.m. for the 2017 ECAC Division III Football Fest.