As the old saying goes; sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.

Last season, the Allegheny football team feasted on five second-half turnovers to come from behind and post a 24-21 win over Carnegie Mellon.

On Saturday, the two teams met up again. And this time Allegheny forked over four of its possessions, and didn’t have much else go its way as CMU rolled to a 41-14 win over the Gators in front of 2,106 fans at Frank B. Fuhrer Field.

Carnegie Mellon (4-2) came into the game boasting one of the best rushing offenses in Division III. And that was no hollow boast. The Tartans rushed the ball 63 times for 359 yards and four touchdowns yesterday.

“We didn’t have an answer for the outside running game, didn’t have an answer for the trap,” said Allegheny coach Mark Matlak, whose team is now 2-3. “They pretty much ran over us.”

Running back Chris Garcia and fullback Anthony Ruzga both had career games against the Gators.

Garcia, thriving on CMU’s outside sweep, racked up 135 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, averaging 10.4 yards a take.

Early in the forth quarter Garcia scored on a 23-yard run up the sideline, giving the Tartans a 31-14 lead.

Meanwhile, Ruzga — a 6-foot-2, 230-pound freight train — broke tackle after tackle during his 22 carries to produce 125 yards and two touchdowns. He scored from one-yard out and 10-yards out all in the second quarter, which amassed a 21-7 Carnegie Mellon lead before the half.

“Ruzga is a man,” said Carnegie coach Rich Lackner. “I mean, he is just a possessed football player. He’s a big, strong, tough young man and we are blessed to have him.”

Even with CMU’s rushing prowess, it was actually a trick pass play that got the Tartans on the scoreboard.

On the visitors’ second play of the game, Tartans quarterback Phil Pantalone handed the ball off to Ruzga. Ruzga flicked it back to Pantalone who found Brendan Howe alone downfield. Pantalone’s pass met Howe around the Gators’ 30, and Howe legged out the remaining turf to finish off the 70-yard play.

“Right off the bat we got the ball thrown over our heads,” said Matlak. “We gave them seven (points) right off the bat.”

Carnegie Mellon also got a pair of field goals from kicker Colin Marks. He knocked through a 25-yarder late in the third quarter and added a 27-yarder halfway through the fourth.

Allegheny, meanwhile, struggled to get going on offense except from a couple nice scoring drives.

After CMU’s first touchdown, the Gators answered with a six-play, 65-yard possession that found paydirt on a 16-yard touchdown haul by freshman tailback Eric Mastrogiacomo.

However, the Gators’ next four possessions netted a total of zero yards (one went for negative 10) and featured one turnover — a fumble by quarterback T.J. Salopek that CMU cornerback Aleksey Tigay returned 55 yards to the Allegheny 14.

Later in the fourth quarter, Salopek would fumble again and get picked off twice.

“The turnovers were a big part of the football game,” said Lackner. “And they were tough turnovers for them. We returned one to their (14) in the first half. And we returned an interception into the red zone in the second half. The turnovers were killers for Allegheny.”

Yet, in the third quarter the junior Salopek would orchestrate another scoring drive. This one went 41 yards on eight plays and ended when Salopek pushed the ball across the plane from one yard away. That close the gap on CMU to 24-14 for CMU. But it would end up being the last time the Gators found the end zone.

Salopek ended the game going 8-for-13 for 137 yards in the air. Matt Giffith had three catches for 34 yards while Bobby Burkes caught two passes for 82 yards.

Burkes also had a couple nice kickoff returns for the Gators. Both times, Jeremy Walker received the kick and handed it off to Burkes.

In the second quarter, Burkes took the switch and went 58 yards to set Allegheny up on CMU’s 33. In the third quarter, Burkes added a 46-yard return to the Tartans’ 46.

“The only thing that was disappointing was our kickoff coverage,” said coach Lackner. “It wasn’t where it needed to be at times. But give Allegheny credit, the kids blocked it well and their return people did a nice job.”

Rushing for Allegheny, Mastrogiacomo had 52 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. David Tate had six carries for 40 yards.

Pete Chiodo can be reached at 724-6370 ext. 275 or by e-mail at

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