Turnovers Plague Cardinals in 27-14
Explorers limit Cards to 65 rushing yards in the game
WASHINGTON - For the second game in a row the Catholic University football team (3-3, 1-1 ODAC) had four turnover s for the afternoon. And for the second week in a row it proved to be a major factor in the outcome of the game. With the defense stopping the La Salle Explorers (2-4, 0-1 MAAC) on nine third downs and one fourth, the offense continuously gave it back resulting in a 27-14 loss at DuFour Field Saturday afternoon.
On the Cards second drive of the day, the turnovers began. Backed up to their own eight, Keith Ricca (Poolesville, Md./St. John's Prospect Hall) attempted a long pass downfield which was intercepted by John Costello and returned to the Explorer 33. With La Salle moving the ball, the defense came up with one stop and a sack by Achille Kolla (Rockville, Md./Bethesda Chevy Chase).
This gave CUA the ball back and Ricca an opportunity to redeem himself with a 51-yard pass to Ryan Bowman (Silver Spring, Md./Good Counsel) to set up a four-yard Nick Olivero (Fairfax, Va./W.T. Woodson) run to make it 7-0 Cardinals.
A 12-play, 57-yard drive by La Salle in the second half tied it up when Dave Macknet rushed one yard in. Ricca threw a second interception on the next drive to give the Explorers the ball at the CUA 16. What looked like a sure touchdown was not when the Cardinal defense stepped it up and stopped the Explorer run on four attempts and didn't give up the first down. CUA got the ball back but could do nothing as time wound down in the half making it 7-7.
La Salle marched down the field on the opening drive of the second half moving 65 yards in nine plays. With two penalties, the Explorers were looking at a 4-19 and brought out the punt team. However CUA got a roughing the kicker penalty which was good enough for a first down and proved incredibly costly as Joe Procopio's 44-yard heave into the end zone made it 14-7.
The Cardinals offense didn't let a seven-point deficit deter them from coming right back with a touchdown of their own, however. Ricca completed a 29-yard pass to Myles Sabrick (Douglassville, Pa./Reading Central Catholic) and another for 13 yards to Andrew Buis (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg). This set up a quarterback keeper by Ricca on the one-yard line to bring it back to even.
Unfortunately, that would be as good as the offense would look all day as the Cardinals abruptly transformed into almost an entirely different team. The defense allowed two big pass plays including one for 25 yards on third and nine to allow La Salle to score. Marcus Bolston (Burtonsville, Md./St. John's College) blocked the point after making the score 20-14 as the third quarter ended.
On CUA's first drive of the fourth quarter the team looked to be on a roll as Ricca completed a pass to Buis, but the receiver fumbled the ball on the tackle ending that opportunity for the Cards. On the next CUA drive Ricca completed the first two passes to Noah Rogers (Lorton, Va./Bishop O'Connell). Unfortunately on the second reception, Rogers broke a tackle with a spin move but was stripped of the ball give the Cards their fourth turnover of the day and ending almost any chance for a comeback.
The final nail in the coffin was a touchdown on La Salle's next drive that ate up 8:36 making the score 27-14 which would eventually be the final as CUA was unable to make anything happen in the closing minutes.
Reverting back to last season, the Cards stuck to the passing game with 170 yards in 11 completions and just 65 yards on the ground. La Salle exhibited a well-balanced 119 rushing yards and 238 passing. The telling stat was time of possession as CUA only had the ball for 16 minutes in the game. Rogers had a team-high 44 receiving yards and Olivero rushed for 20 yards on the afternoon.
The Cardinals will embark on a three-game road trip next Saturday with a contest at Hampden-Sydney beginning at 1:00 p.m.