FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Catholic University football sophomore Bryan Melara rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown, but Methodist converted two Cardinal fumbles into 14 points as the Monarchs posted a 30-14 victory Saturday at Monarch Stadium.
In the first meeting between the two teams since 2000, the Cardinals (0-3), ran for 187 yards as a team with Melara and junior Chance Le Grand combining for 144 yards on 25 carries and an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Catholic added two field goals from sophomore Fabrizio Reilly.
Meanwhile, junior Jake Ballard led the defense with seven tackles, including two sacks, while junior Andrew Funaki had eight tackles, one pass breakup and a blocked punt that set up a field goal late in the third quarter.
Methodist (1-1) jumped took a 7-0 lead just 2:45 into the game after its defense forced a fumble on Catholic's opening drive and recovered inside the red zone at the Cardinals' 17-yard line. Four plays later, the Monarchs converted the turnover into seven points when Vontre Howard scored on a four-yard run.
On their ensuing possession, the Cards drove 50 yards in eight plays down to the Monarchs' 36-yard line, but could not convert on fourth-and-4, turning the ball over on downs.
However, the Catholic defense forced a three-and-out and neither team was able to muster any offense the rest of the quarter.
On their fourth drive of the game, the Cardinals were able to pick up two first downs, including one a 19-yard rush by Melara, before Reilly hit a 23-yard field goal attempt to get the Cards on the board with 11:00 remaining in the second quarter.
Reilly finished the day 2-for-2 on field goal attempts and is now 3-for-3 this season after hitting a 29-yard attempt against Kenyon.
Catholic couldn't muster any more offense as it was limited to 39 yards on 12 plays the rest of the half as the Monarchs scored the final 17 points of the quarter.
Following a 42-yard touchdown run by Nick Baker, the Methodist defense forced another fumble on the ensuing Cardinals' drive and converted it into an 11-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Bullins to Jamaar Moore with 4:35 to play in the half.
The Monarchs tacked on a 27-yard field goal with only four seconds remaining to take a 24-3 lead at the half.
Reilly's second field goal of the game from 21 yards out with 3:02 left in the third quarter cut the Cards' deficit to 24-6 as the defense held Methodist to just 53 total yards.
After Catholic blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt on the opening possession of the fourth quarter, Methodist drove 55 yards in five plays on its second possession before Baker found the end zone for the second time on a nine-yard run to put the Monarchs up 30-9.
In addition to 14 points off turnovers, the Monarchs held the Cardinals to just 2-of-13 on third-down conversions. However, Catholic did score on all three of its trips inside the red zone.
The Cardinals open NEWMAC play next Saturday, Sept. 28 when they host MIT on Cardinal Weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.