By Jared Prenda
The Catholic University of America football team pulled off an impressive victory over the Utica Pioneers this past Saturday at Cardinal Stadium. The 16-10 win was the team’s home opener, bringing their record to 1-1. The team was led by a staunch defensive effort, which was vital to stop a late 4th quarter push from the Pioneers.
Senior Captain Pat Vidal spearheaded the effort, recording game leading statistics with 12 total tackles, four of which were for a loss, 1 forced fumble and one broken up a pass.
The rest of the defense was equally impressive under defensive guru Head Coach Mike Gutelius. Senior safety Luke Kern tied Vidal for the game high in tackles, but lead the team in solo tackles with 10. Kern also stopped Utica dead in its tracks by forcing a goal line fumble. In total the Cards’ defense forced a pair of fumbles and interceptions each, the also forced another 2 turnovers on downs.
The Birds were the first to score halfway through the first quarter when senior kick Blake Gomez was good from 26-yards out to cap off a 10-play, 65-yard drive. The Cards would hold on to that 3-point lead until they rapidly expanded on it after sophomore QB Alejandro Ros took over. The Miami, Florida native scored the game’s first touchdown on a goal line quarterback sneak, which was followed by a failed 2-point conversion on a handoff to junior Andrew Lunarola. Lunarola was able to redeem himself shortly afterwards on an acrobatic 21-yard touchdown catch from a laser by Ros with only six seconds remaining in the half.
Ros went 16-27 passing on the day with one touchdown in the air and an interception. Junior tailback Nick Esposito lead the ground attack with 77 rushing yards. Freshman Chance Legrand joined him with 22 yards on the ground, getting most of the touches on a crucial 8-minute drive to eat time in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. The team generated 230 total yards of offense, and only turned the ball over twice to the Pioneers. They, however, lost both the time of possession and yardage battle to their foes.
The upset victory is the first of many at Catholic for Coach Gutelius, and the team has ralliedbehind him in his first year. Following the presentation of the game ball to his father, Gutelius was swarmed by his players in celebration of the hard-fought victory.
The 16-10 win over the Pioneers brings the team to 1-1 on the season. The Cardinals will return to action this coming Saturday, 9/16/17 at home against former ODAC rival the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets. The game will be the second of a 3-game home stand for the Cardinals. It will wrap up non-conference play for the Birds, as they will kick off NEWMAC play as the host MIT on Saturday, September 23rd .