By Sarah Beretich
The hopes of a long off season fell short for CUA football as they dropped their season opener to Kenyon College in double overtime this past weekend. Catholic fell one point short in the first game of the season to this Saturday, September 7th, ending the game 32-31. Kenyon ended their 26-game losing streak under new head coach James Rosenburry in the first meeting of the schools.
Catholic started the game off at a lead when junior quarterback Brady Berger, #12 completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to MeKhail White, #16, bringing Catholic to 7-0. Catholic’s defense held strong in the first half, giving up only one touchdown but managing to block the extra point after.
After a solid first half, coming out at 17-6 thanks to a 29-yard touchdown by #4 Running back Bryan Melara, the third quarter brought some lows for Catholic. “I think we were playing very well up until the beginning of the second half where they were making plays and we weren’t,” says White. “That was definitely the turning point… being able to execute and finish.”
Kenyon began making plays with more intent as, in the beginning of the 3rd quarter, a pass from Thomas Merkle to Andris Balodis brought the score to 17-17. This tie held throughout the remainder of the second half into overtime, where Kenyon’s Jimmy Andrews brought his team to a lead at 24-17. Berger’s showed his growth as a player with two clutch passes to White and #3 WR Pedro Garcia to bring Catholic ahead 31-24 in double OT.
Merkle believed OT was exactly what his team needed to bring the score back in their favor; Merkle says that, despite a lack of OT games in the team’s history, each player “stayed really poised in the pressure moments in OT. Offensively, everything played out exactly how we had hoped by scoring in both of our drives in OT.”
Merkle lead a clinical drive downfield that ended in a 1-yard touchdown with a 2-point conversion pass by Justin Bosch to bring the game to its final score of 32-31. “Coach thought we may as well decide the game right then on a 2-point try after the second OT, with the momentum after a touchdown.” said Merkle.
As for Catholic, the game evidenced an exciting season and many strong plays. “Football is a game of highs and lows; that’s just part of the game, it just comes down to execution and that is what we will be focusing on in the near future,” says White. The team plans on watching their game film and White hopes that “next time we play, you will see a different team.”
As for the incoming class of recruits, the seasoned team is hopeful; #56 defensive linebacker Zack Tucker, who was off the field this game due to injury, is one of the upperclassmen looking forward to the newest group of Catholic U players.
“The coaches did a great job recruiting this offseason, so we have a lot of talented freshmen that I’m excited to watch grow and make some plays.” As for the results of the game, Tucker anticipates improvements throughout the season, saying that the game “was a tough one, but we’re gonna watch the film and learn from it and get ready for next week.” Tucker says the team is going to “focus on going 1-0 each day this season and competing for 60 minutes on Saturdays.”
The Cardinals play at Georgetown next Saturday, September 12th, and return home to play MIT on Saturday, September 24th.