Football defeats Carnegie Mellon in defensive duel
Senior wide receiver Easton Knott caught a crucial 77-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Dan Burkett, scoring the team’s second touchdown of the game in the third quarter and giving the Bears a seven-point lead for the first time in the game. Carnegie Mellon’s offense tried its best to score, but the Bears’ resilient defense kept them out of the red zone, securing a critical win for the Red and Green.
After breaking its three-game losing streak against the College of Wooster, the Washington University football team is finally living up to its high expectations. The Bears’ 14-7 win against Carnegie Mellon University gives them a three-game winning streak and a record of 5-3. To the Wash. U. players, this win built a sense of confidence around the locker room that is needed for the few games left in the regular season.
“Right now we feel like we’re in the driver’s seat,” Knott said. “The momentum is on our side, and I know that we can continue to build this success and prove to others how good we truly are.”
Throughout the game, the Bears’ and the Tartans’ offenses found trouble moving the ball because both teams’ defenses came out strong, forcing many short drives with few red zone attempts. Despite giving up 305 yards, the Bears’ defense remained resilient and showed that they had no problem stopping a potent offense.
According to Knott, head coach Larry Kindbom addressed the team after the game. He said that he was extremely proud of the defense keeping the team in the game.
In the first half, the Wash. U. defense started strong as they stopped Carnegie Mellon’s first offensive drive to force a three-and-out. After Carnegie Mellon’s junior running back Patrick Blanks and sophomore quarterback Rob Kalkstein led their team down the field to a 10-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, the Bears’ defense fought back and tried to stop future runs with key tackles, keeping the Tartans from scoring for the rest of the game.
The defense forced three important turnovers—two fumble recoveries and freshman defensive back Ryan Bednar’s third-quarter interception—bringing the momentum of the game to the Bears.
Offensively, the Bears struggled to keep most of their drives alive in the first half, punting on four of their five possessions. Burkett wasn’t in rhythm with his receivers, but junior running back Chris Castelluccio, who rushed a total of 126 yards in the game, and the offensive linemen led the team with some strong running.
According to Knott, Kindbom acknowledged that the Tartans had a tough defense, but the offense did enough to win.
On the last drive of the second quarter, Burkett finally found his rhythm. He connected with his receivers and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Drew Sexton to tie the game at 7-7. Though Burkett threw an interception on the second drive of the third quarter, he came back on the next drive with poise and threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Knott that would be the deciding score in the game.
“At halftime, we were talking about what routes were open on the field,” Knott said. “I ran a cross route, got open and Burkett just threw a nice pass to me. I think our strategy definitely paid off.”
With their heads held high, Wash. U. hopes to continue its winning streak with a win against Case Western Reserve University at home next Saturday. Though playoff decisions are getting near, the Bears are, for now, trying to focus on their last two games.
According to Knott, Kindbom said that the team’s focus is on Case Western.