The Spartans rebounded from a disappointing loss at Washington University last week by winning the Annual Academic Bowl against top rival Carnegie Mellon.
A quick start by Carnegie Mellon led to a 7-0 lead just four minutes into the game when the Tartans’ quarterback Rob Kalkstein found a receiver wide open downfield for a 79-yard score. The Spartans were not discouraged and would score 28 of the next 31 points. The defense stepped up on both teams to force three-and-outs and there was no indication of the shootout that would follow.
On fourth down and 11, the Spartans ran a trick punt play with running back Manny Sicre’s direct snap, pitched to quarterback Scott Mackie who got the first down. Mackie returned the favor by hitting him for a 29-yard pass to get the Spartans to the Carnegie Mellon 17. Spartan quarterback Billy Beecher finished off the drive with a two-yard push into the endzone. The extra point was good to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:51 left in the first quarter.
Carnegie Mellon fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and the Spartans pounced on the mistake and took control at the Tartans’ 32. One play later, Olson found Lapcevic on a 32-yard touchdown pass. After a Tartan field goal brought the score to 14-10, the Spartans scored two passing touchdowns to make the score 28-10 with 9:19 left until the half. Carnegie Mellon responded to the Spartan offensive explosion with a touchdown to make the score 28-17 at halftime.
Carnegie Mellon cut the Spartan lead to 28-24 with a 71 yard drive which culminated in a touchdown early in the second half. Olson threw his third touchdown of the game when he connected with wide receiver John Mangelluzzi for the second time with a the 79-yard touchdown catch. The 35-20 cushion was important 20 minutes later when the Tartans marched down the field for 90-yard and a touchdown. Carnegie Mellon then converted the risky two point conversion to pull within a field goal with just over two minutes to play. Carnegie Mellon then attempted an onside kick attempt but the Spartans were able to recover it and run out the clock for the win.
The Spartans were led by quarterback Olson who threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns. His biggest target was Mangelluzzi, who caught for 136 yards and two of the three touchdowns. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Everett Dishong led the Spartans and recorded eight tackles.
The Spartans ended their season second in UAA play for the second straight year. Besides the heartbreak, the Spartans are poised to continue their strong seasons with many talented underclassmen, many of whom saw play time on Saturday. As the Spartans say goodbye to the seniors they honored two weeks ago, they look to take back the UAA championship next season and have the potential to do so.