Football: Consecutive fumbles doom Bears in their UAA opener
“Special teams…is really no different than offense or defense. We’ve been playing well but not well enough long enough,” head coach Larry Kindbom said. “I think if you play well enough long enough, you score more points, you get more shutdowns and then you don’t have the quirky kind of things that we had on special teams.”
On a 55-yard CMU punt with 1:14 left in the third quarter, senior defensive back Tim Machan fumbled the catch at the Wash. U. 10-yard line. The Tartans recovered, scoring on a 4-yard touchdown rush a minute later.
The Bears’ ensuing possession ended with the same result. Sophomore punter Austin Morman fumbled a bad snap from junior offensive lineman J.J. Gotlieb, which was also recovered by Carnegie Mellon.
Starting at the Bears’ 15-yard line, it only took two plays to take the lead. A 2-yard rush put the Tartans on top for good, 14-13.
“Our defense puts a big emphasis on when we’re put in a bad situation…where the opposing offense gets the ball inside the [20-yard line]. We really stress holding them to a field goal or getting turnovers,” junior defensive back Brandon Brown said. “We just couldn’t come up with those stops yesterday.”
CMU put together a 75-yard, 8:32 touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. The 15-play series consisted of 14 carries, ending on a 1-yard touchdown run.
“After the second touchdown, it was 14-13. We were losing. It wasn’t a question of anything, at that point, other than the offense has to score more points,” junior runningback Jim O’Brien said. “We just knew that no matter what, we had to get on the [scoreboard] again. For whatever reason, we couldn’t do that.”
Given possession with only 1:36 left in the game, junior quarterback Stephen Sherman’s desperation pass was picked off, securing victory for the Tartans.
“It was just hard to come back,” Morman said. “Once they had momentum, we kept fighting, but it just didn’t work out.”
Despite holding the Tartan passing offense to only 30 yards, the Bears defense allowed 234 rushing yards.
“The defense played lights out the first [three quarters],” Brown said. “The rest of the game, I don’t know what happened, but, the momentum shifted from us being up 13-0 to them getting that quick touchdown and getting right back in the game. They took it from there.”
Senior co-captain Andrew Berryman led the team with 13 tackles, while Machan had nine. Brown and sophomore linebacker Kyle Larkin each added eight tackles.
The Bears took the lead early in the first quarter. O’Brien broke loose on Wash. U.’s second play of the game for a 42-yard rush. Junior Tim Johnson ended the drive with a 36-yard field goal.
“We had to settle for some field goals and didn’t sustain [many] drives,” O’Brien said. “A huge difference in that game was that we just couldn’t finish once we got down in the red zone…with touchdowns.”
Senior halfback Greg LaChaud caught a 10-yard touchdown pass with 12:30 left in the second quarter, pushing the score to 10-0.
Johnson hit another field goal, this time from 27 yards out, 8:33 through the third quarter. The Tartans took the lead minutes later.
“When you’re in control of a football game, at some point you have to put it away,” Kindbom said. “If you don’t, you’re just leaving the door of opportunity open for that other team.”
Washington University (3-5, 0-1) takes on the University of Chicago (4-3, 0-1) on Saturday, Nov. 7, in the final home game of the season. The team’s 14 seniors will be honored shortly before kickoff at 1 p.m.