By Jimmy Cassidy
Catholic University’s football team opened their 2015 fall season with a memorable win Friday, September 5th, 34-33 against McDaniel College. After falling behind in a 23-7 haltime deficit, the Cardinals took back the lead with just 13 seconds left in the game to secure a one point victory. Catholic faced off against the McDaniel Green Terror for the 2014 season opener as well, in a game in which the Cards gave up 20 unanswered fourth-quarter points to lose a heartbreaker 34-31. Roles were reversed this Labor Day weekend, and it is CUA who will head into their next game with 1-0 record.
A win is a result of a strong collective effort by the entire team and coaching staff. But sometimes, a couple players stand out as true difference makers in the game. Stats do not lie; the crucial players of the victory were senior quarterback TJ Tutone and junior wide receiver Lucas Morley. The duo hooked up for four touchdowns in the air on the day, including the game winner. To say Tutone aired it out would be an understatement; the quarterback let it fly 51 times in the game. It was effective, however, as 35 of those attempts were completed, as he finished the night with 356 yards and the four touchdowns. Morley caught 13 balls and ended up with a total of 210 yards.
“Starting the season off with a win is always important. There’s always room for improvement and our guys do a good job of working hard in practice to fix the things we need to work on. Our goal is to get better every time we step on the field, and that will pay off on Saturdays,” Morley said.
After the Green Terror started the scoring with a first quarter field goal, CUA responded with an 88 yard drive that was capped off by a goal line rushing touchdown from junior Matt McMahon. The 7-3 lead did not last long, as McDaniel put together four scoring drives, with two touchdowns and field goals. At the end of two quarters, Catholic was down 23-7. The team needed defensive stops to give the offense a chance to get back in the game.
The defense did their job, and the Green Terror did not add to their 23 point tally in the third quarter. An eight yard pass from Tutone to Morley in the back of the endzone cut the lead to nine, but McDaniel responded with a touchdown of their own to put the lead back to 30-14 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Cards had less than eleven minutes in the game to mount a comeback. The rally was in full effect after Morley caught his second TD of the game, and the defense came up big for a stop. A muffed punt by the Green Terror gave the ball back to CUA on the 22 yard-line. Just two plays later, the pass-catch duo struck again with a quick touchdown to Morley. The McDaniel lead had shrunk to just two points, 30-28. Catholic actually got the ball back after another defensive stand, but a fumble gave possession to McDaniel with three minutes left to play.
The Green Terror could only manage a field goal, which only extended their lead to 33-28. It would take a touchdown to regain the lead from the Cards. There seemed to be no answer in stopping the wideout Morley, and the plan did not change. Head coach Dave Dunn had less than two minutes to score from their own 35 yard-line. The offense moved the ball to McDaniel’s 49 yard-line, and instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock, the Cards ran another play. Tutone and the offense might have surprised the defense with the no-huddle strategy, and he did what he had been doing all evening. His 31st completed pass landed in the hands of Morley, who streaked up the sideline to score, with just 13 seconds left. The final was 34-33, a thrilling win for Catholic.
Morley rightfully earned Offensive Player of the Week honors from the Old Dominion Athletic Conference in his four touchdown effort. “Our team has the ability to win every time we step on the field and we hope to improve from where we left off Saturday,” he said. The Cardinals will host Rochester University at Cardinal Stadium, Saturday, September 12th at 1 PM.