Cardinals Build Early Lead, MIT Rallies in NEWMAC Opener

Cardinals Build Early Lead, MIT Rallies in NEWMAC Opener

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Highlighted by three passing touchdowns by sophomore Brady Berger, including two to sophomore Trey Carson, the Catholic University football team took a 14-point second quarter lead, but MIT scored 24 unanswered points en route to a 34-24 victory Saturday at Steinbrenner Stadium.

The Cardinals (0-4, 0-1 NEWMAC), who had won two of their last three conference games, totaled 174 yards passing in the first half as Berger completed 13-of-20 attempts. Carson had four catches for 69 yards while sophomore Pedro Garcia hauled in five receptions for 34 yards.

Catholic scored on four of its first five possessions, including the first three to take a 17-3 lead with 5:36 remaining in the first quarter.

The Engineers (4-0, 1-0 NEWMAC) opened the game with a 7-play, 63-yard drive, capped by a 28-yard Mark Wright field goal with 12:01 to play, but the Cardinals answered just 2:07 later when Berger found Carson for a 53-yard touchdown strike to give them a 7-3 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Catholic went for the surpise onside kick and it was recovered by freshman Liam Dearing at the MIT 40-yard line. Three plays later, Berger found freshman Johnny Hecht for his first career touchdown reception from 37 yards out on third-and-7 to put the Cardinals ahead, 14-3.

However, Catholic wasn't finished as senior Joe Nacci came up with an interception on the next MIT drive, returning it down to the Engineers' 27-yard line. The offense got inside the 10-yard line before its drive stalled at the four, leading to a 21-yard field goal from freshman Sean Gould.

The Cardinals totaled 133 yards on its first three drives while limiting MIT to just 65 yards on nine plays as they built a 14-point lead. On the Engineers' third drive, they drove 73 yards in 11 plays before missing a 27-yard field goal wide left.

After holding Catholic to a three-and-out, MIT would score on their next possession to pull within 17-10 with 11:10 remaining left in the second quarter.

However, sophomore Chance LeGrand returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards down to the Engineers' 15-yard line which led to an 11-yard touchdown pass from Berger to Carson four plays later on fourth-and-6 to put the Cardinals back on top by 14, 24-10, with 9:33 remaining.

MIT responded with another long drive, this time going 69 yards on nine plays while using 4:11 beore scoring on a 6-yard pass to get back within one score, 24-17, with 5:22 to play in the first half.

Despite having the ball for just over 12 minutes in the opening half, Catholic took its seven-point lead into halftime, marking the first time the team had held a lead at the half this season. The Cardinals also didn't have a turnover in the opening 30 minutes.

Catholic totaled 151 yards on 23 plays and scored on four of its first five drives of the game, but was limited to 163 yards on 35 plays on its final seven while totaling four punts and three turnover on downs. Meanwhile, MIT scored on three of its final seven drives, with two of the drives being used to kill the clock to end the first and second half.

Garcia led the Cardinals with eight receptions for 66 yards while Berger finished 18-of-31 for 270 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was also sacked just once.

Sophomore Jake Ballard finished with a game and career-high 12 tackles, including one for loss. Nacci and senior Jake Marcelino each added eight tackles and one pass breakup.

After wrapping up its three-game road trip, Catholic returns home for the first time since September 1 when it hosts a NEWMAC contest versus Coast Guard next Saturday, Sept. 29 at Cardinal Stadium. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.