Allegheny 34, Carnegie Mellon 27
MEADVILLE, Pa. — Senior T.J. Salopek capped a 15-play,
90-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to David Stawser with
just over six minutes left in regulation to push Allegheny in front
by two scores, while the Gators hung on despite giving up a late
touchdown, 34-27, at Frank Fuhrer Field on Saturday. Salopek became
the Blue and Gold's all-time leading passer during the tilt
as Allegheny improved to 2-0 on the young season.
Trailing 13-10 at the break, Carnegie Mellon dominated the time of possession and the scoreboard in the third quarter, moving in front of Allegheny, 20-13, after freshman Rob Kalkstein connected with Chris Garcia on a three-yard pass with four minutes left in the frame. The score closed out an eight-play, 67-yard drive, which followed a 14-play, 55-yard drive on the prior series that saw the Tartans tie the game behind Elli Carnevale's 20-yard field goal.
The Gators reciprocated the domination in the final stanza, holding the ball for nearly 10 minutes while Salopek answered CMU's push with three straight touchdown passes. Salopek and Strawser hooked up for the second time on the afternoon at the end of the third quarter with a three-yard connection that knotted the score at 20 heading into the fourth quarter. The drive, which lasted just two minutes, but covered 79 yards, set the stage for a furious charge by the Allegheny offense.
Following a quick three-and-out by the Tartans, the Gators wasted little time in reclaiming the lead for the first time since late in the second quarter. On the second play of the series, Salopek found Terry Hartford in single coverage on the near sideline and connected with his top target for a 54-yard touchdown pass. Although CMU orchestrated a drive on its ensuing possession that threatened the Allegheny lead, Colin Hartford made a spectacular one-handed interception at the 10-yard line to thwart the push and set-up the Blue and Gold's game-breaking drive.
For the second consecutive week, Salopek threw four touchdown passes, while he passed Bubba Smith '03 during the second quarter as the Gators' all-time leader in passing yards. Finishing the day with 280 yards on 19-of-31 passing, Salopek now holds nearly every throwing record in team history while his output of eight touchdowns in a two-week span is also a first in the 117 years of Allegheny football.
Salopek enjoyed a magical connection with Strawser, who is a back-up quarterback turned wideout for the 2010 campaign. Strawser delivered a monster effort in the non-conference victory, hauling in six passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns. The effort marked the first time Allegheny had a receiver with three touchdowns in one game since Dallas Robinson hauled in three against Oberlin in 2006.
Salopek's counterpart, Kalkstein, played admirably in the loss, and finished the afternoon 10-of-18 for 163 yards in addition to a team-high 52 yards rushing. He was picked twice in the fourth, including a fantastic effort by Sid Facaros, who returned his second interception of the year 18 yards.
Allegheny outgained Carnegie Mellon, 400-276, and after failing to convert on its first 11 third-down chances, converted its final three attempts to help secure the win. After missing a 21-yard attempt early in the game, Ryan Zipf rebounded with two field goals in the second quarter, including a career-long 48-yarder with 1:44 left in the half. Salopek also made amends for a rocky start after being intercepted on the Gators' first offensive play of the day.
CMU's Mike Shedlosky led all players with 19 tackles. Doug Williams paced Allegheny with nine stops and a sack, while Facaros added eight.