WASHINGTON, D.C. - Catholic University football freshman Evan O'Donnell threw for 140 yards and one touchdown, but a quick start by MIT led the Engineers to a 32-13 victory Saturday in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener for both teams.
Following a 6-yard touchdown run by sophomore Bryan Melara, the Cardinals (0-4, 0-1 NEWMAC) trailed by just 12 points with 5:08 remaining in the third quarter before MIT scored back-to-back touchdowns to end the third and start the fourth.
Despite forcing three punts on the Engineers' first three possessions, Catholic trailed 4-0 with 8:04 to play in the first quarter after MIT registered safeties on two of Catholic's first three possessions.
That would be all the Cardinal defense would allow in the first 15 minutes before the defending NEWMAC champions used big plays to score on back-to-back drives to take a three-possession lead.
On 2nd-and-12 from from the Catholic 45-yard line to start the second quarter, Chris Mauck connected with Keithen Shepard for a 45-yard touchdown to put the Engineers in front, 11-0.
After forcing a punt on the Cardinals' ensuing possession, Evan Gwozdz returned it 75 yards for the score to stretch MIT's lead to 18-0 with 11:42 left in the half.
Neither team could get anything going offensively the rest of quarter, but despite holding the Engineers to just 144 yards on 30 plays in the first half, Catholic found itself trailing 18-0 at the break.
The Cardinals had an interception and blocked a punt on MIT's first two drives of the second half, the second of which set up Melara's touchdown run late in the third quarter.
After a failed onside kick attempt that went out-of-bounds on the ensuing kickoff, the Engineers drove 43 yards in eight plays, capped by a Ashton Robinson 4-yard run to take a 25-6 lead.
After forcing a three-and-out, MIT scored on a 64-yard touchdown pass from Mauck to tight end William Woltmann to increase its lead to 32-6.
However, just three plays later, O'Donnell connected with junior Trey Carson for 74 yards and his first career touchdown pass.
Unfortunately, that would be as close as the Cards would get as MIT limited them to only 40 yards on nine during its next two drives before the clock ran out on their final drive with under a minute remaining.
O'Donnell and sophomore Devin Miles combined to complete 14 passes to seven different receivers for 233 yards and a touchdown. Junior Chance Le Grand was the biggest beneficiary, hauling in five catches for 77 yards.
Defensively, junior Jake Ballard had a game-high 12 tackles while junior Andrew Funaki had 11 tackles, including one for loss and one interception. Junior Drew Thomas, who ranks second on the team in tackles this season with 32, added nine more on Saturday.
Catholic travels to Coast Guard next Saturday, Oct. 5 for a 1:30 p.m., kickoff. Last year, the Bears won for the first time in the last four meetings against the Cardinals, 20-9.