PITTSBURGH – The Carnegie Mellon University football team opened its home slate hosting 12th-ranked Washington and Jefferson on Saturday in a Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) showdown and defeated the Presidents 20-13. The win marks the highest ever over a ranked opponent for the Tartans since D3football.com started a Top 25 poll in 2003. Carnegie Mellon is 3-0 and 2-0 in PAC play while W&J moves to 2-1, 1-1. The win marked the Tartans third straight to open their home schedule.
W&J outgained Carnegie Mellon 331-302, but the Tartans held the slight edge in turnovers forcing three while the Presidents forced two. It marked the third straight game the Tartans won the takeaway battle and are now 58-11 since their NCAA playoff run in 2006. Carnegie Mellon also controlled the clock holding onto it for 37:34 while both teams ran 72 plays apiece.
Senior Quinn Gaughan (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community) turned in a career-day to lead the Tartans defense. The senior recorded 17 tackles, nine solo, 2.5 tackles for a loss, including 1.5 sacks, recovered a fumble and recorded his first career interception.
Gaughan and the Cardinal and Gray defense recorded six sacks in all on the afternoon with junior Sam Brod (Austin, Texas/Vandegrift) tabbing a career-best 2.0 for a loss of 14 yards and senior Long Tran (Harrisburg, Pa./Susquehanna Township) tallying 1.5 sacks for a loss of 10 yards. Tran now has 15.0 sacks for his career and moved into sixth all-time while Brod now has 11.0 for his career and ranks 11th.
Junior quarterback JD Dayhuff (Westerville, Ohio/Olentangy Orange) threw for 239 yards on 17-of-28 passing and two touchdowns. Senior Willie Richter (Leander, Texas/Cedar Park) led the Tartans receivers with six catches for 97 yards and a score. Senior Chris Haas (Coronado, Calif./Coronado) led the ground attack with a season-best 83 yards on 19 carries.
Jacob Adams completed 19-of-39 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Cameron O'Brien had three catches for 11 yards and two touchdowns while Payton Skalos recorded nine receptions for 93 yards. Defensively, the Presidents were led by Mitch DeZort with 11 tackles and 3.5 sacks for a loss of 21 yards.
Carnegie Mellon struck first on a 41-yard field goal by sophomore placekicker Brandon Nguyen (Maitland, Fla./Lake Highland Preparatory) with 9:25 to play in the first quarter. The three points were setup when Gaughan intercepted Adams at the W&J 31-yard line and four plays later the Tartans took the lead.
Nguyen made the score 6-0 with one second remaining on the clock in the first half when he connected on a career-long 46-yard field goal. The kick capped off an eight-play, 57-yard drive.
At the break both teams where 0-for-8 on third-down conversions while the Presidents were also 0-for-3 on fourth-down and turned the ball over on downs twice inside the red-zone. W&J held the edge in total yards 124-99 and recorded seven first downs to the Tartans five in the first half.
Carnegie Mellon open the second half on a nine-play, 67-yard drive that ended on a 17-yard touchdown strike by Dayhuff to sophomore Ben Armbrester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Eastern). Nguyen's point-after sailed through the uprights to put the score at 13-0.
The Presidents answered on the ensuing possession putting together a nine-play drive of their own. The 52-yard drive ended when Adams hooked up with O'Brien on a 10-yard touchdown toss. The point-after was blocked by junior Skyler Blacker (Lake Bluff, Ill./Libertyville) which left the score 13-6 with 7:14 to play in the third quarter.
On the last play of the third quarter, O'Brien snagged a pass from Adams and ran 94 yards down the Carnegie Mellon sideline for the game tying score following the extra-point.
With 5:11 to play in the fourth quarter, Dayhuff found Richter in the front of the end zone for the go ahead score. Richter kept his feet inbounds for the 29-yard touchdown which made the score 20-13 after the PAT.
The Presidents had two opportunities to drive to tie the game. The first chance ended when Adams had his fourth down pass batted away by junior Mason Tolliver (Sylmar, Calif./Crespi) at the line to give Carnegie Mellon the ball at the W&J 43. A three-and-out forced a Tartan punt, which gave W&J one final chance with 1:48 to play. However, Adams was intercepted by sophomore Sean Knight (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) on the first play of the drive to seal the win for the Tartans.
The Tartans will head to Latrobe, Pennsylvania on Saturday, September 28 for a 1:00 p.m. kick against the Bearcats of Saint Vincent College.