(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team jumped out to an early 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back, as the Tartans went on for the 41-21 victory over Denison University on Cindy Lackner Memorial Football Day. The win improves the Tartans record to 5-1 while the Big Red moves to 2-3.
Senior running back Patrick Blanks got the home team on the scoreboard five plays into the contest with a 40-yard scampered. Junior running back Michael Trentalange put the Tartans ahead 13-0 in the closing seconds of the first quarter. The missed point after kept the score 13-0.
Trentalange's score came one play following a 57-yard fumble return by senior cornerback Sam Thompson, as junior safety Jack Butler forced Denison's Sam Fioroni to cough up the ball. A personal foul penalty on the return moved the ball to the 6-yard line,
It didn't take the Big Red long to answer their mistake. On their next possession, they need just four plays to cut the home team's lead to 13-7, as senior quarterback Max Paulus found Braden Layer for a 53-yard touchdown strike.
Junior quarterback Rob Kalkstein needed four plays to push the Tartan lead back to 13 points. The signal caller hooked up with junior wide receiver Tim Kikta for a 55-yard gain, then Blanks rushed twice for 11 yards before Kalkstein fund junior tight end Bryce Pardoe in the end zone for a 10-yard score. The converted point after attempt made the score 20-7 Carnegie Mellon with 12 minutes to play in the half.
Fioroni cut the lead back to six (20-14) with 6:15 to play in the second quarter when he capped off a six-play, 89-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run. The Big Red defense held the Tartans to a three-and-out forcing a punt on the next possession giving the visitor's a chance to take the lead. On their first play, Paulus was intercepted by senior Liam McGrath on the Big Red's 35-yard line. McGrath's interception setup the Tartans fourth score of the game and Blanks second of the afternoon, as the senior scored on a 3-yard run seven plays later to extend the lead to 27-14.
In the closing seconds of the half, Paulus was intercepted for the second time when Butler came down with the jump ball in the end zone.
Coming out of the break, Denison used an 11-play, 62-yard drive that covered 5:32 to pull within six (27-21) once again. On third-and-goal, Paulus found Fioroni wide open in the flat for an 8-yard score.
After each team exchanged punts, Blanks put the Tartans on top 34-21 with a 49-yard touchdown run at the 3:29 mark of the third quarter. Carnegie Mellon added an insurance score in the fourth quarter when senior Kyle Irish found sophomore tight end Fred Bolio for a 13-yard score on a fake field goal.
For the fifth time this season the Tartans had over 400 yards of total offense while out gaining the Big Red 427-394. Blanks ended the day with 155 yards on 14 carries for an average of 11.1 yards per touch. The senior also scored three touchdowns marking the fourth time for his career he has three or more scores in a contest. He now has rushed for 1,900 yards for his career putting him seventh all the school's all-time rushing chart. Kalkstein finished with 186 yards passing on 10-of-14 and a score.
Defensively, the Tartans had six sacks for 40 yards. Junior linebacker Akwasi Brefo led the team with none tackles, six solo. Butler and junior Alex Basinski each end the game with seven tackles, as Bultler had an interceptions and forced fumble.
Fioroni led Denison with 154 yards on 21 carries and Paulus ended the day 15-of-28 for 209 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Tartans will be idle next week before hosting Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday, October 20. The tilt is set to begin at 1:00 p.m. on the turf of Gesling Stadium.