Fourth quarter dooms Maroon football in 37-24 loss to Carnegie Mellon

Burke Moser and Syd Reynolds
Burke Moser and Syd Reynolds

CHICAGO – After 44 minutes of game time, the University of Chicago football team was in control with a double-digit lead heading into the fourth quarter against Carnegie Mellon University. But several quick strikes by the Tartans turned the game on its head and the visitors racked up 30 unanswered points to beat the Maroons 37-24 on Saturday afternoon.

The Maroons fell to 4-5 overall and 0-2 versus University Athletic Association (UAA) opponents. The Tartans improved to 6-3 overall and 1-1 in UAA games.

UChicago senior quarterback Burke Moser surpassed 400 passing yards for the third time this year. He completed 36 of 63 passes for 450 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The wide receiver duo of freshman Dante Nepa (9 catches for 149 yards) and senior Syd Reynolds (6 catches for 144 yards) combined for 293 receiving yards between them. Junior running back Chandler Carroll ran for 122 yards on 25 carries with one touchdown rushing, while also catching 13 passes for 77 yards.

Overall, the Maroons compiled 529 yards of offense (79 rushing, 450 passing) on 99 offensive plays. The Tartans finished with 425 offensive yards (284 rushing, 141 passing) on 68 plays.

On an unseasonably warm November afternoon, UChicago put the first points on the board in its second possession. A 44-yard completion to Reynolds set up 1st-and-Goal before Carroll punched the ball in from five yards out. CMU returned the favor on its opening possession of the second quarter. UChicago's interception in the end zone was negated by a penalty and the visitors capitalized from two yards out to tie the game 7-7.

Undeterred, the Maroons put together back-to-back effective drives to head into halftime with a 17-7 lead. Moser threw his way down the field over the course of a 13-play, 75-yard drive that concluded with a seven-yard touchdown toss to sophomore wide receiver Trevor Anderson. Their next time down the field, the Maroons were stopped near the goal line and ended up with a 28-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Mike Kurzydlowski.

The home team pushed its lead to 24-7 near the midpoint of the third quarter. Carroll got things rolling with a 17-yard run and on third down, Nepa hauled in a 40-yard completion. Moser then hooked up with Reynolds for a wide-open 15-yard touchdown with no defenders in the vicinity.

However, the run of play turned against UChicago in dramatic fashion right as the third quarter ended. CMU was backed up to its own seven-yard line on third down when the Tartans completed an 18-yard teardrop pass to keep the chains moving. A pass interference followed immediately after, and running back Sam Benger then burst through the defensive line with a 60-yard gallop into the end zone as time expired in the quarter.

The Maroons were poised to get some of those points back with the subsequent drive getting into CMU's red zone. But on third down, the Tartans flushed Moser out of the pocket and picked him off. The interception return went all the way back 85 yards to draw the visitors to within 24-21.

Carnegie Mellon took the lead for good on its next fourth-quarter possession, running the ball three times for 85 yards to seize a 28-24 advantage. A big punt return by the Tartans put them on UChicago's 11-yard line and a run on the edge pushed the lead to 35-24. All told, CMU scored 28 points over the course of five offensive plays and one defensive play. UChicago's final two drives ended with a turnover on downs and a safety sack to account for the final score.

Senior defensive tackle Eddie Giannina made a season-high 10 tackles and one sack. Senior linebacker Jackson Garrey (one fumble recovery) and sophomore safety Jeremy Vincent finished with eight tackles each. Freshman safety Bill Rotnicki collected seven tackles and forced one fumble.

NEXT GAME:

  • Saturday, Nov. 12 – Washington University-St. Louis at UChicago, 12 PM