CMU football beats Westminster

In a close game, where the offense was slow but the defense and special teams made up the slack, the Tartans bested the Westminster College Titans by a score of 20-14.

The game started with back-to-back drives of less than ten yards. Westminster lost six yards on three plays, and the Tartans gained nine on six plays. But the Tartans were able to capitalize on their second drive of the game, going 57 yards on five plays, with 44 of those yards coming on junior Luke Bikulege’s touchdown run.

After forcing a turnover on downs from the Westminster Titans, the Tartans drove the ball 73 yards down field for another touchdown. Senior Chris Haas rushed for a three-yard touchdown that put the Tartans up 14-0 right at the end of the first quarter.

The somewhat uneventful second quarter saw the Titans put up only one touchdown, and no points on the scoreboard for the Tartans. The first four drives of the quarter ended in three punts and a missed field goal for the Titans from 36 yards out. Scoring the touchdown with 1:37 left in the second half kept the Titans in the game, finishing the half only a touchdown behind for a score of 14-7 Tartans.

Westminster received the kickoff at the start of the second half, and they took advantage of their position. A six-play, 60-yard drive for the Titans tied the game up at 14 just two minutes into the second half. In response, the Tartans slowed their game down, taking 5:30 to go just 39 yards on 10 plays, but the end of the drive saw the Tartans put up a field goal attempt from 38 yards out. Sophomore kicker Brandon Nguyen made the score 17-14 for the Tartans.

On the next drive, the Tartans forced a three-and-out for Westminster, but a fumble on the resulting punt left Westminster within striking distance of the Tartan red zone. A 17-yard pass put the Titans at the Tartan 25-yard line with a fresh set of downs, but a penalty and two sacks by Long Tran, Michael Lohmeier, and Sam Brod pushed Westminster all the way back to their own 48-yard line. The second sack saw the Titan quarterback lose the ball, but the fumble was recovered for the Titans to punt away on the next play. Another series of punts ended the fourth quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Tartans stretched the lead a little more after a 28-yard drive ending in a 41-yard field goal from Nguyen. Another three and out following the field goal forced the Titans to punt away to the Tartans, who kept possession for close to four minutes on seven plays and 32 yards.

The next Westminster drive ended in an interception by senior Thomas Polutchko after only five plays, putting the ball at midfield for the Tartans with just a minute and a half left in the game. However, the Tartans only wasted fifty seconds from the clock returning possession to Westminster with 44 seconds left in the game. Starting at their 17-yard line, Westminster was only able to gain 23 yards on the final drive of the game. The final score was 20-14 for the Tartans.

The win keeps the Tartans in second place in the PAC, but Case Western Reserve University won their game on Saturday sealing their first-place position. The Tartans have an opportunity to ruin Case Western’s perfect record next weekend in the 34th Academic Bowl, which will be played at Gesling Stadium. The game begins at 2:00 p.m.