By Jared Prenda
The CUA Cards went on the road to pick up the team’s first win in the NEWMAC Conference with a 20-14 victory over the Coast Guard Academy Bears. The victory was the team’s first road win of the year and advanced them to a 3-2 overall record (1-1 in NEWMAC). The win also seats the Cardinals in 3rd place in the NEWMAC table, just behind MIT and undefeated Springfield.
The Birds were the first on the scoreboard when sophomore kicker Pearce Bartlett hit a 27-yard field goal following a strong goal-line stand from Coast Guard. The Bears soon responded however, when running back Ryan Jones punctuated a close to 5-minute drive with a 2-yard touchdown run on their opening drive of the second quarter.
The Cards responded in the final minutes of the half, following a quick 4-and-out forced by coach Mike Gutelius’ staunch defense. The Catholic offense took over possession with only 1:01 left on the clock and sophomore quarterback Alejandro Ros marched his team down the field. Following two quick incompletions, Ros connected with senior receiver Blake Gomez for a crucial 20-yard gain. Immediately following this Ros used his legs on a quick 10-yard run to bring his team into the red zone. Later in the drive, the sophomore found Gomez again on a 14-yard pass for a touchdown, capping off a 6-play, 32 second drive to give CUA a 10-7 halftime lead.
Ros had a stand out day under center for the team. The Miami native went 20-34 on the day for 210 yards, two scores, and no turnovers, and an additional 19 yards on 6 attempts running the ball. He was joined by Gomez, who ended his day with 76 yards and a touchdown on 6 catches, and rookie tailback Pedro Garcia rushed for 57 yards on 18 carries in his season debut for the Cards. Bartlett also had an impressive day, with his performance earning him the NEWMAC Special Teamer of the Week.
The Cardinals were once again the first to find the scoreboard in the second half. Senior safety Luke Kern came up with a huge interception for the Birds deep within Coast Guard territory to set up the offense on the Coast Guard 37. Two plays later, Ros threw his second touchdown on the day when he connected to classmate Rey Riveros on a 19-yard completion to put CUA up 17-7.
The Bears, however, still showed signs of life with the team responding instantly with a 20-yard touchdown completion of their own on the next drive. This was the only sign of life they would show due to an outstanding fourth quarter from the CUA Defense.
The defense proved stalwart late in the game, defending a 20-14 lead off Bartlett’s second field goal. In the final three possessions for Coast Guard, the Cardinals managed to force a turnover on downs, and the band of thieves known as the CUA defensive back corps added two more interceptions from juniors Joe Nacci and Isaiah Snead to seal the game.
The Cardinals’ defense was a force throughout the game, forcing three interceptions and fumbles each. Junior linebacker David Adams was instrumental in this effort, recording 9 tackles, three of which were for losses, a forced fumble and 2 sacks. Snead’s interception is his 3rd on the year, tying him with Kern for the team lead on the season.
Catholic looks to ride the wave of momentum following Saturday’s 20-14 road win into its next matchup against conference rival WPI. The game will be held this Saturday, October 7th at Cardinal Stadium, and kickoff is set for 1 PM. The game will be a pivotal one for the team, since WPI is tied for 3rd in the NEWMAC with a 1-1 in conference record, and 3-2 overall, and may have far reaching playoff implications come the end of the season.