NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – After leading Apprentice School for most of the second half on Saturday, CUA saw the Builders pull to within two points with 12:49 to play, but James Fucillo's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:07 on the clock sealed an exciting 24-15 win for the Cardinals. CUA now sits at 4-2 following the victory, while the Builders drop to 1-5.
CUA had a punt blocked that resulted in a safety late in the third quarter, which made it a 17-9 game, and after Paul Morgan ran in a seven-yard TD early in the fourth, the Builders were within two, 17-15.
The teams then traded punts on their next three possessions before Fucillo came up with the play of the day, picking off an Apprentice School pass and returning it 40 yards to pay dirt with a little over two minutes to play, which sealed the win for CUA.
Fucillo had a terrific all-around day, leading the Cardinals with eight tackles, including five solo, to go along with one tackle for loss and the interception. Conor Stueckler added seven tackles and an INT, and Timbo McGarry also picked off a pass.
Apprentice School wasted little time in jumping out to a 7-0 lead, scoring on the game's first possession when Chris Virgin sprinted 69 yards for a touchdown.
The score remained that way for nearly the entire first half until Greg Cordivari found Tanner Keefe for a four-yard TD and the Cardinals pulled even. That is how the teams entered halftime.
On CUA's first possession of the third, the Cardinals took their first lead when Brian Gongaware booted a 23-yard field goal.
Stueckler then picked off a Builders pass to give the ball back to CUA, and eight plays later Cordivari scored from a yard out to open up a ten-point Cardinals lead with 5:47 on the third quarter clock.
With 3:25 to play in the quarter, Dan Zentz's punt was blocked and after the Cardinals recovered in their own end zone, Apprentice School was awarded two points for a safety, making it a 17-9 game.
Early in the fourth the Builders pulled to within two when Morgan scored on a seven-yard rush. The two-point conversion failed though, keeping it a 17-15 game.
That set the stage for Fucillo's dramatic game-sealing interception return.
Nick Cortese finished with 77 yards rushing on 24 carries for CUA, while Cordivari completed 30 of 39 passes for 183 yards and one score. Cortese was his favorite target, hauling in six of those passes. CUA was just 4 of 16 on third downs, but 3 of 5 on fourth down conversions.
The Cardinals totaled 266 yards of offense and were 3 of 5 on fourth down conversions. CUA held the Builders to only 228 yards of offense and a 2 of 10 showing on third downs.
Virgin topped the 100-yard mark for the home team, finishing with 115, while Morgan completed 5 of 12 passes for 64 yards.
CUA is back in action on Saturday, October 22 when the Cardinals welcome Emory & Henry to town on Homecoming. Kick-off from inside Cardinal Stadium is slated for 1 p.m.