WASHINGTON, D.C. - Catholic University football sophomore Brady Berger completed 27-of-45 pass attempts, both career highs, for 226 yards and two touchdowns as the Cardinals opened the 2018 season with a 27-12 nonconference loss against McDaniel Saturday at Cardinal Stadium.
Catholic (0-1) has opened against McDaniel in each of the last eight seasons and today marked just the third win for the Green Terror over that stretch as the Cardinals are 5-3, including 2-2 at home.
Berger made his third start in his fourth career appearance and accounted for 256 yards of total offense as he was also Catholic's leading rusher, totaled 30 yards on just four carries. He completed a pass to seven different receivers with freshman Mekhail White hauling seven receptions for 70 yards and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Berger with 1:30 remaining in the second quarter.
Sophomore Trey Carson also had seven catches as he totaled 54 yards receiving to go along with 45 return yards to lead the team with 103 all-purpose yards.
After both teams traded punts on their opening possessions, the Cardinals found the back of the end zone for the first time this season following a 10-play, 74-yard drive that was capped by a 31-yard pass from Berger to senior Andrew Lunarola to give Catholic a 6-0 lead with 6:49 remaining in the first quarter.
The Cardinal defense forced McDaniel to punt on each of its first three possessions before the Green Terror (1-0) turned an Catholic interception into seven points when John Chamberlin scored on a 2-yard run after Ben Igo connected with Devon for 62 yards on the first play following the turnover.
After forcing a turnover on downs and a punt, McDaniel increased its lead to 14-6 with 5:18 left in the second quarter after a 7-yard touchdown run by Matt Cathey.
However, the Cardinals responded with a 9-play, 61-yard drive to pull within two when Berger found White for his first career receiving touchdown from five yards out with 1:30 to play.
Not to be outdone, the Green Terror drove 60-yards in just five plays before Igo scored on a 1-yard run to give McDaniel a 21-12 halftime lead.
Berger finished the half with 140 yards passing and two touchdowns on 17-of-23 passing, including 10-of-15 in the second quarter.
Neither team was able to get much going in the third quarter as the two combined for a fumble and five punts on the first six possessions. Then, with 12:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Green Terror lined up for a 40-yard field goal that would have doubled their lead, but the attempt was blocked and ignited the Catholic faithful.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals' ensuing 9-play, 72-yard drive was thwarted by a turnover on downs on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
After regaining possession, McDaniel marched 83 yards in 16 plays and 7:14, converting on four third downs before Peyton Denlinger's 31-yard field goal was good to give the Green Terror a 24-12 lead with 3:12 remaining.
McDaniel, who added a second field goal with 1:04 left to provide the final margin, controlled the ball for much of the second half, totaling 22:50 compared to just 7:10 for Catholic.
Defensively, the Cardinals were led by sophomore Jake Ballard and senior Jake Marcelino who combined for 31 tackles. Ballard had a career-high 16 stops to go along with a sack and tackle for loss while Marcelino had a career-high 15 tackles, one forced fumble and a blocked field goal.
Catholic returns to action next Saturday, September 8 when the team travels to Utica for a noon kickoff at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium.