Carnegie Mellon no match for mighty Spartans

Football wins big opener


Wide recievers Luke DiFrancesco (right) and Ethan Albers celebrate their opening game victory against Carnegie Mellon University. Andrew Hodowanec/Observer

JP. O’Hagan, Sports Editor

After expecting a close game, the Spartans were simply far superior to archrival Carnegie Mellon University last Saturday.

The kickoff for the 2014 football season had a lot of promise to be an excellent game, but the Tartans seem to have lost their game plan somewhere on the drive from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. The Observer’s 24-21 prediction was far off from the 30-0 outcome, but we were not expecting such a poor showing from Carnegie Mellon in the 29th Annual Academic Bowl.

Yet we were nearly right in predicting Case’s score, as the Spartans had put 24 points up on the board with just over seven minutes left in the game—and we may or may not have been rooting for them not to score again.

However, we realized that the Tartans had basically given up after the Spartans had that amazing blocked field goal, so the Spartans decided to add the 21 points expected to go to CMU to their own score and simply ran out of time. The Spartans have a bye week this weekend and so we will run our predictions for their next game next week after we tweak our methodology.

The Spartans were led offensively against senior quarterback Billy Beecher, who passed for a career-high 301 yards and two touchdowns both to junior wide out Ethan Albers. Beecher also ran the ball into the end zone himself to account for three of Case’s four touchdowns. Sophomore running back Anthony Bianco rushed in the fourth touchdown late in the game to cap the Spartans’ scoring.

Beecher completed 24-of-37 passes, leading the offense for their 498 yards while the defense held the Tartans to a mere 184 yards. The defense looked strong, much improved over last season and added four sacks and a forced fumble to their strong stat line. Junior linebackers Everett Dishong and KJ Pederson each set career high tackle count with 13 and 12 tackles respectfully, and Pederson forcing the fumble.

The Spartans received the opening kick-off but were unable to do much and punted the ball to the Tartans, who found themselves on the edge of the red zone before turning the ball over on downs. Case then took over and marched 75 yards on 11 plays to get themselves onto the scoreboard. Beecher hit Albers for his first of two touchdowns, a nine-yard strike and place kicked Nick Bavaro tacked on the extra point and the Spartans had a 7-0 lead with just over four minutes to play in the first half.

The Spartans added to their point total late in the second when Beecher ran the ball in himself on a well executed QB draw that would put the Spartans up 14-0.
Carnegie Mellon threatened to score at the end of the half, and was very much still in the game, but their 19-yard field goal attempt as time expired was blocked by Spartan junior linebacker Gavin Sandidge and freshman safety Cody Calhoun scooped up the loose ball and made it to the opposite 29-yard line before being dragged down to end the half.

The Spartans opened the second half with a spectacular drive into the Tartan half which was marked by big passes from Beecher to Albers and sophomore tight end Zech Medved for 22 and 23 yards respectfully. The drive set up Bavaro to hit a 33-yard field goal to make the game 17-0 with just over 10 minutes to play in the third quarter.

The Spartans wouldn’t add to the scoreboard until the fourth quarter, when Beecher found Albers in the endzone again and connected for a seven-yard touchdown pass at the 12:19 minute mark. Bianco punched in his first career score five minutes of play later to punch the Tartans’ ticket back to Pittsburgh, bringing the final score to 30-0.

The win marks the 13th opening weekend victory for the Spartans in a row as well as its eighth straight win against Carnegie Mellon, and we at The Observer have heard rumors that the Tartans consider Emory their biggest rival. This rumor, while disrespectful to us, the victors, is likely true due to Carnegie Mellon’s ability to easily beat Emory’s football team, considering Emory doesn’t actually have a football team.

After such a satisfying win the Spartans will have a bye week this week before playing a PAC conference game at St. Vincent College on Sunday Sept. 20.

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