Tartan football steamrolls Grove City and Rochester

The Tartan football team improved to 2–0 on Saturday thanks to a 16–6 victory over the visiting Grove City Wolverines. The win comes a week after the Tartans traveled to the University of Rochester and ran over the Yellowjackets 33–10.

Carnegie Mellon trailed 6–2 against Grove City heading into halftime, only managing three first downs the entire first half. “We didn’t play our best offensively in the first half,” head coach Rich Lackner said.

“Defensively we felt strong,” senior linebacker Jonathan Bodnar said. “We made one mistake and they had a big play.” The Tartans finally found the end zone in the third quarter when senior fullback Travis Sivek scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Their scoring drive was made possible by a crucial defensive pass interference penalty on a third and long pass attempt to junior tight end Derek Wisniewski that fell incomplete.

Junior kicker Colin Marks tacked on the extra point to give Carnegie Mellon a 9–6 lead. “In the second half I thought our kids showed some guts, they came off the ball better and we certainly played better,” Lackner said.

The score remained the same heading into the fourth quarter and the Tartans defense continued their strong play. Grove City’s ground game did not have any success against Carnegie Mellon’s front seven, led by junior linebacker Jim Sands with 13 tackles and senior defensive tackle Richard Hauffe with 3.5 sacks.

The Tartans secondary played well, especially sophomore safety Josh Kresge (two interceptions, one fumble recovery) who played a role in all three Grove City turnovers.
“Our defense got us a couple of turnovers and gave us some field position, I thought our punter [senior Matt Adams] did a great job of punting the football and giving us field position,” Lackner said.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Carnegie Mellon got the ball back at their own 39-yard line. Junior running back Ryan Phillips came into the game replacing Sivek and reeled off a set of rushes, highlighted by a 35-yard scamper down the left side of the field to the Grove City 13-yard line.

“We have a great deal of confidence in Ryan Phillips. He’s a good football player,” Lackner said.

Sophomore running back David Babcock capped off the drive with a 13-yard counter around the left side and into the end zone for his first career touchdown. Marks’s kick made the score 16–6 in favor of the Tartans with 5:11 remaining in the game.

“It’s always tough playing these guys,” Bodnar said, who had 10 tackles and a forced fumble on the day. “I’ve been coming to these games since I was little and I remember playing these guys ever since then so they come prepared for us.”

Against Rochester last week, the Tartans trailed 3–0 before a two-yard touchdown run from Sivek made it 7–3. The Tartans took a 20–3 lead into halftime and went on to win 33–10.
The Tartans collected 445 rushing yards, with senior running back Robert Gimson leading the way with 185 yards and a touchdown.

Sivek added 136 and two touchdowns and senior running back Colby Whitman had 72 yards and two touchdowns. Senior safety Cody Vild had two interceptions on defense and senior safety Jon Scholl led the team with 14 tackles.

“Everybody played strong, the offense had an amazing game,” Bodnar said. “It didn’t even feel like the offense was moving the ball but they kept scoring. Defensively, we had a good game plan, came out strong. I was pleasantly surprised by the way we played against them.”

“Everybody’s going to circle the Carnegie Mellon game,” Lackner said. “We were a good football team last year. Maybe by the eighth or ninth game people were suspecting we were a pretty good team. Now going into this season everybody knew it. They’re going to have a bull’s eye on us and we know that.”

“We all know we’ve got teams coming out now, they’re definitely gunning for us a little more,” Bodnar said. “It’s week to week, do your job, don’t really look down toward the playoffs, you’ve got a game to play right now and try to prepare for that game and get it finished.”

The Tartans look to add another win this Saturday with a road game against Hobart College at 1 p.m.