In near-storybook fashion, the Yellowjackets rallied from behind to score an emotional win over Carnegie Mellon University, edging the Tartans 39-35 in football Saturday afternoon. “It’s a nice way to end the season,” said UR head coach Mark Kreydt, whose team completed the 2002 season with an overall record of 2-8. “I was pleased especially for the seniors, who were able to walk off the field the last time as winners,” added Kreydt. Senior tailback John Breedy finished his career with 1,706 rushing yards, placing him eighth on the all-time list.

The victory was also meaningful for the younger players, especially for freshman quarterback Pat Manuel and junior wide receiver Brian Ferris, each of whom earned a place in the UR record books. After his first year of college, Manuel holds the single season record for attempts, completions and total offense. Ferris broke the record for receiving yardage in a single season and tied Rich Parrinello and Guy Bailey for the number of touchdowns in a season at 11.

The Yellowjackets started the game in usual fashion, scampering over the dazed Tartan defense for an easy touchdown to gain the lead. Breedy easily sieved through the defensive lines to reach Carnegie Mellon’s 7-yard line, from which Manuel ran the rest of the way for a quick score. Junior defensive back, Bill Hershey kicked the PAT to make the score 7-0.

Unfortunately, UR continued in their usual fashion, allowing the opposing team to quickly rebound and score. The Tartans drove the field steadily, building off short runs by Adam Urbanczyk and quick passes from Ricardo Clarke. Clarke rushed for a 5-yard touchdown but Carnegie Mellon’s extra point attempt failed, leaving the Yellowjackets ahead 7-6.

UR fumbled on their next possession, giving the Tartans excellent field position. Carnegie Mellon quickly capitalized, scoring a second touchdown with a 4-yard run by Urbanczyk. Carnegie Mellon successfully completed a two-point conversion with a trick play to put them on top 14-7.

Carnegie Mellon increased the lead to 21-7 midway through the second quarter as UR’s defense was unable to stop runs by Urbanczyk and Brad Stanley. A long 28-yard run by Stanley brought the Tartans to UR’s 1-yard line, from which Urbanczyk easily scored.

The Yellowjackets pulled it together long enough for Manuel to hit Ferris with a 28-yard touchdown pass before halftime. “Scoring right before the half was a pivotal moment of the game,” said Kreydt. “Going into halftime 21-14 is a big difference than going into halftime 21-7.”

Carnegie Mellon regained a 14-point lead during the third quarter off a 1-yard touchdown run by Stanley. The PAT was good, leaving the score 28-14. UR was able to drive the ball down to the Tartans’ 15-yard line on their next offensive drive, but had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by junior kicker Chris Johnston to increase the score to 28-17. Nevertheless, Kreydt commented that the field goal “started our momentum and we were able to build off of that.”

The field goal sharpened the sting of the Yellowjackets’ defense, as they forced a fumble that was recovered by junior defensive back Buc Pederzolli. From there Manuel began to hit Ferris with long passes, and advanced down the field to the 1-yard line. Junior running back Gerard Hopkins took the ball in for UR, shrinking the deficit to 28-25.

The Yellowjackets regained the lead several minutes later with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Ferris followed up by a successful PAT by Johnston. With 3:45 left UR was again on top 32-28.

The next few minutes were an emotional roller coaster for both teams as the Tartans made a final stand on their home turf, with a 32-yard run to move deep inside UR’s red-zone. The drive was capped off with a seven yard touchdown run on the next play. With less than three minutes left, the Tartans led 35-32.

UR started its final drive at their 20-yard line, advancing 13 yards with a spiral from Manuel to Ferris. Manuel was in the zone, hitting his targets with pinpoint precision. Manuel hit Ferris on the next play for a seven yard gain moving UR down the field. The Yellowjackets crossed into Tartan territory with a 17- yard pass to Breedy and advanced deeper with a 19-yard pass to senior wide receiver Parker Jaques. Senior tight end Joe Spillman was rushed for a loss of a yard, but UR quickly recouped with a short pass to Jaques. John Breedy rushed four yards to the 7-yard line and the spectacular drive was capped off with a touchdown pass from Manuel to Ferris. The PAT was good, putting UR ahead of the Tartans 39-35. CMU was unable to muster a response to UR’s final drive and the Yellowjackets relished the taste of victory for only the second time in their physically trying season.

“I think from the standpoint of being a young team we gained a lot of experience this season and hopefully we can gain from that,” said Kreydt. “We would have liked to win more games but we are a young team and the most important thing for us to do right now is look toward the future.” For now, Kreydt is focusing on an intensive off-season program that he hopes will make the Yellowjackets ready for next season. The hard part to becoming a successful team, however, is behind them. In the words of Coach Kreydt, “there is no substitute for experience.”

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