Tigers Down Cardinals 41-21
Olivero rushes for 110 yards and two touchdowns
HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, Va. - The Catholic University of America football team (3-4, 1-2 ODAC) fell 41-21 to league opponent Hampden-Sydney (3-4, 3-2 ODAC) Saturday afternoon in Virginia. The Cards played the game close looking at a one-touchdown deficit to start the fourth quarter, but the running of Charlie Omick was too much as the senior rushed four two TD's in the final stanza.
The game started poorly for the Cards as the special teams unit gave up an 89-yard touchdown return by speedster Austin Williams, who is currently leading the ODAC in kick returns, to put the Tigers up 6-0. A failed two-point conversion kept the deficit at six as CUA took over at their own 35.
As the Cardinals attempted an aerial attack, HSC used the run in the opening quarter. CUA caught the Tigers off guard expecting a pass midway through the first deep in Cardinal territory. Receiver Pete Mercantanti (Newton, Pa./Pennington) broke free for a 50-yard run down to the Tiger 22. This rush would set up Nick Olivero (Fairfax, Va./W.T. Woodson) for a 22-yard rush on the very next play into the endzone. Thomas Breslin's (Sugarloaf, Pa./Bishop Hafey) kick was good to make the score 7-6.
After forcing a three and out, CUA came back and mixed up the passing game by quarterback Keith Ricca (Poolesville, Md./St. John's Prospect Hall) with some runs by Olivero to get the ball back into Tiger territory. A pass interference call on Hampden Sydney moved the Cards to the HSC 25 with first and ten. After an Olivero rush for five yards Ricca completed a 20-yard bullet to Andrew Buis (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg) for the touchdown pulling CUA ahead 14-6.
Trying to avoid another returned kickoff by the dangerous Williams, CUA pooch kicked the kickoff giving the Tigers excellent field position at the Catholic University 43. Quarterback Bobby Owens took advantage of the situation passing to Drew Smith for 42 yards and the touchdown to end the wild first quarter.
Unlike the first, both teams had problems on offense in the second quarter with Ricca throwing an interception early in the 15 and the Tigers missing a field goal after the CUA defense held them on first and goal. After the HSC takeaway, the Tigers fumbled the ball which was forced and recovered by Tommie Roberson (Gainesville, Fla./Eastside). Unfortunately the Cards could do nothing with the opportunity going three and out.
Hampden-Sydney got back on track on the next drive with Omick rushing for the touchdown putting HSC up 21-14. This would also be the score going into the locker room for halftime after a frustrating quarter for both squads.
Early in the second half Bill Gross (Southampton, Pa./Archbishop Wood) recovered a second Tiger fumble jumping on the ball with HSC knocking on the door at the CUA one yard line. But what looked like a strong drive for CUA changed dramatically. On second and 12 Ricca completed a pass to Ryan Bowman (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaitherburg) at the CUA 25, he fumbled the ball which was not only recovered by the Tigers but returned for a 30-yard touchdown run by Gary Lindsay.
Both teams were quiet after that huge momentum shift until CUA made a small comeback with seconds remaining in the third. Ricca put on a passing clinic to march down the field and with 18 second left, Olivero rushed five yards to make the score 27-21 HSC on the point after.
This would be the last good news of the day, however, for the Cards as the defense gave up two touchdowns by Omick in the fourth quarter and the offense could get nothing going making the final 41-21.
Omick led on the ground with a career-high 177 yards while Olivero topped the Cards netting 110 in 22 carries with two touchdowns. Bowman led all receivers with 71 yards in four catches while Buis added five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Ricca was 21-49 with one interception and one touchdown.
Defensively, the typically strong CUA unit was held to no sacks and no interceptions. Achille Kolla (Rockville, Md./Bethesda-Chevy Chase) had a team-high seven tackles. Gross had 5.5 with one forced fumble while Roberson added 4.5 with a FF.
The Cards will continue their three-game road trip with a game next weekend at Emory & Henry.