WASHINGTON – Using a complete team effort, CUA opened ODAC play with a 41-28 defeat of Hampden-Sydney (2-2, 0-1) on Saturday inside Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals (2-2, 1-0) defense had a terrific day, forcing five turnovers and registering four sacks in helping lead CUA to its first win over the Tigers since 2008.
CUA was more than ready for the challenge of facing a Hampden-Sydney team that had been nationally ranked as recently as two weeks ago and received votes in the poll this week.
The Cardinals limited the Tigers high-powered offense to just 53 yards rushing and 198 through the air, while picking off three Hampden-Sydney passes and recovering a pair of fumbles.
Joe Tretter and Conor Stueckler led a spirited CUA defense with seven tackles apiece, while Tretter added a tackle for loss and two pass breakups, and Stueckler finished with 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a pass breakup.
On Hampen-Sydney's first possession, the Tigers attempted a pass from wide receiver Fuller Clark, which Patrick Thomas picked off and returned 34 yards into HSC territory.
A penalty on the return pushed the Cardinals back into their own territory, but that did nothing to slow the CUA offense. The Cards marched 75 yards in 10 plays, capped by the first of three Mike Pitsenberger touchdowns to claim a 7-0 lead midway through the first.
On the first play of the second quarter, Greg Cordivarihit Alonzo Cooke for a 26-yard scoring strike and the Cardinals went in front 14-0.
Hampden-Sydney answered with a strong drive of its own, covering 65 yards in only 2:54, with Nash Nance hitting J.M. Sparagna for a three-yard score to cut the CUA lead in half.
Unfazed, the Cardinals came right back and went 56 yards in seven plays, capped by a 42-yard touchdown pass from Cordivari to Cooke. The ensuing extra point was missed, but with nearly nine minutes to play before halftime, CUA was in front by 13.
The Cardinals added to their lead on their second possession of the second half when Pitsenberger scored from two yards out to give the home team a 20-point advantage.
After Kevin Ross forced a fumble that Patrick Nilsen recovered, CUA upped its lead to 34-7 when Pitsenberger completed the trifecta with another rushing TD.
Hampden-Sydney cut into the lead with a 15-yard strike from Nance to Regis Craft early in the fourth, but CUA again had an answer, this time covering 83 yards in 10 plays, capped by Nick Cortese's four-yard score to make it 41-14 with 7:38 to play.
The Tigers continued to hang around, scoring in only 50 seconds to pull within 20, and Max Antwerpes' onsides kick was then recovered by HSC, setting the visitors up inside CUA territory.
Nance took advantage of the opportunity, hitting Holton Walker for a 26-yard touchdown to pull the Tigers within 13 with 6:13 remaining, but that was as close as CUA would allow them to get.
The Cardinals put together a nice drive on their next possession, but fumbled the ball away with 3:08 to play.
The CUA defense made sure it did not matter though, as they forced three straight incompletions and Rob Schzaetzl finished things off with a huge fourth down sack of Nance to all but end things.
CUA gained 21 first downs on the afternoon and finished with 428 yards of total offense. The Cardinals dominated the clock all day, racking up 37:28 of possession, to only 22:32 for the Tigers. CUA was also 3 of 5 on fourth down, while holding the Tigers to a 3 of 11 showing on third down and an 0 for 4 performance on fourth down.
Cordivari played well under center, completing 26 of 38 passes for 302 yards and a pair of scores, with Cooke hauling in 10 of those passes for 135 yards and two TDs.
Pitsenberger ran hard all afternoon, totaling 67 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, while Cortese and Evan Calvo added 37 yards apiece.
Nance had a rough time, thanks to the CUA defense, throwing for only 198 yards on a 16 of 40 showing. Walker caught eight balls for 150 yards, while Evan King rushed for 66 yards on 17 carries.
CUA heads to Randolph-Macon for its next game in the Cardinals' first ODAC road game. Start time is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, October 5.