WASHINGTON — The Catholic University of America football team was victorious in its home opener on Saturday afternoon at Cardinal Stadium as the Cards defeated Utica, 16-10. Senior defensive lineman Patrick Vidal anchored a staunch defensive effort that forced five turnovers.
Catholic built a 16-point lead and held off a Utica rally late in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals forced a turnover on downs by the Pioneers on their first drive in the fourth before using a 6:28 drive of their own to salt the clock. Utica then went four-and-out on their final possesion as the Cards evened their 2017 record at 1-1.
Vidal was a monster defensively as he racked up game highs with 12 total tackles, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
First-year head coach Mike Gutelius earned his initial victory with Cardinals as he was swarmed by his team postgame after presenting the game ball to his father who was in attendance.
Catholic got on the board first with a 26-yard field goal by senior Blake Gomez which capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive midway through the first.
Sophomore quarterback Alejandro Ros went on to score two second-quarter touchdowns. Ros ran a QB-sneak from the one-yard line for his first at the start of the quarter. He then went on to thread the needle on a 21-yard strike to junior Andrew Lunarola who used impressive body control to get a foot down with just six seconds left in the half.
Utica was able to own the time-of-possession and yardage battles, but Catholic's defense stepped up when it needed it most with two forced fumbles, two sacks and two interceptions.
Senior safety Luke Kern tied Vidal with 12 tackles and led all players with 10 solo stops. He also forced a fumble at the goal line to stall a Pioneer drive. Fellow safety Joe Nacci had one of two Catholic pickoffs and returned it 27 yards.
Ros completed passes to eight different receivers with five going to junior Andrew Keleher for 46 yards.
The Cardinals continue a three-game homestand and wrap up nonconference play next Saturday, September 16 at 1 p.m., when they face former ODAC foe Randolph-Macon.
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