WASHINGTON – The Catholic University of America football team improved to 2-0 to start the 2016 season, earning a road victory at Rochester on Saturday afternoon, 27-14. The Cardinals rallied from a 14-7 halftime deficit, shutting out the Yellow Jackets in the second half.
The Catholic defense held its opponent to just 14 points for the second straight week, forcing three fumbles while holding Rochester to just 4-of-15 third-down conversions before a final desperation drive.
The defensive effort allowed the Cardinal offense to find its groove in the second half as they outscored the Yellow Jackets 20-0 in the second
Senior running back Matt Perno led the charge offensively as he totaled over 200 yards. Perno gained 102 yards on the ground and added 99 yards in the air, including a 55-yard touchdown reception.
The Cardinals amassed almost 200 yards rushing as Perno joined with sophomore Nick Esposito for a formidable one-two punch. Esposito nearly reached the 100-yard plateau, gaining 94 yards on the ground.
Catholic did strike first in the game as junior quarterback Jorge Pola found Perno for the long score, but Rochester answered with two touchdowns, one at the end of each quarter to take advantage into the break.
The Cardinal D clamped down in the second stanza and Pola and the offense began to find their footing, executing several long drives
A seven-play, 65-yard drive to start the third was capped by a senior Brayden Massie one-yard touchdown run to tie it up at 14-all. The Cards scored again in the third, putting together 12 plays for 64 yards and another one-yard TD, this time by Pola.
CUA's final scoring drive came on yet another long drive as the offense went for 13 plays and 89 yards to set up a jump-ball touchdown for senior wide receiver Lucas Morley. Morley finished his day with eight catches for 51 yards.
Pola went over 200 yards passing for the second-straight, completing 17-of-26 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns, two through the air.
Senior captain Ross Sanford led the defense yet again, posting a team-high nine tackles. Junior defensive end Patrick Vidal also had a strong game, with three tackles, two for loss, a sack and a blocked field goal.
Junior linebacker Greg Mayer registered a career day with two sacks, good for a loss of 13 yards, while adding six tackles, including five solo stops.
The Cards look to keep their record perfect next week when the team travels to face Coast Guard at 1:30 p.m.
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