TACOMA, Wash. – The Puget Sound football team went ahead on a touchdown in the closing seconds of the third quarter and used a long fourth-quarter drive to help seal it as the Loggers defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 21-17 on Saturday in the season opener for both teams at Baker Stadium.
Sophomore cornerback Benjamin Cooney had a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown, to go along with six pass break-ups, to highlight the Stags' opening-day effort, one of four interceptions for the CMS defense on the day. Puget Sound also took a close 45-35 win over the Stags a year ago in Claremont, before CMS went on to share the SCIAC championship and advance to its first-ever NCAA Tournament.
The score was tied 14-14 going into intermission, when CMS had one of its patented long drives to open the second half. The Stags held the ball for the first eight minutes, with senior running back Garrett Cheadle picking up a key first down on 4th-and-1 to maintain possession. The drive finally stalled on the Puget Sound 29-yard line, but sophomore kicker Alessandro Maiuolo came through with his longest career field goal, connecting from 46 yards to put CMS ahead 17-14.
Puget Sound responded and moved the ball into the red zone at the end of the third quarter. Cooney had a big pass break up to deny a touchdown on a slant pass on second down from the 12-yard line to force a third-down play. However, with seven seconds left in the quarter, A.J. Johnson was able to pull down a 12-yard touchdown catch, his second of the game, to put the Loggers back in front 21-17.
CMS drove into Puget Sound territory midway through the fourth looking to take the lead back, but a sack forced the Stags into another long field goal attempt. Maiuolo's bid from 48 yards came up just short, giving Puget Sound the ball in its own territory with just under eight minutes left.
The Loggers then effectively killed the clock with a lengthy drive, before eventually turning the ball over with only 58 seconds left when junior safety Sachi Mindich had an interception on fourth down at the CMS eight-yard line, leaving the Stags 92 yards away and without any timeouts. After a sack, Fogel heaved a desperation pass to midfield that was intercepted with 30 seconds left to seal the win.
CMS was down 7-0 in the early going after Puget Sound scored a touchdown just 90 seconds into the game, but Cooney had a momentum-changing play when he stepped in for an interception and brought it all the way back for a touchdown to tie the score 7-7.
Sophomore safety Stiles Satterlee then ended the next Puget Sound possession with another interception and CMS was able to take advantage of the short field. With the ball on the Puget Sound seven-yard line, sophomore quarterback Zach Fogel was able to roll to his right and throw the ball high to sophomore tight end William Smith, who pulled it down to give CMS a 14-7 lead with two seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Loggers were able to knot the score up in the second quarter on the first of Johnson's two touchdown receptions, though, to make it a 14-14 game going into intermission.
Fogel finished the game 12-for-20 for 167 yards and a touchdown in his third collegiate start, while Cheadle carried for 55 yards on 16 carries. Cooney had a huge day with seven solo tackles and six pass break-ups to go along with his interception return for a touchdown, while Satterlee and sophomore linebacker Dylan Porter led the defense with eight tackles apiece, while junior linebacker Camrion Davis and first-year linebacker Christopher Wicke joined Cooney with seven.
CMS will be back in action when it travels to Northwestern (Minn.) next Saturday for its second road non-conference contest to start the 2019 season. The Stags defeated Northwestern at home 14-3 a year ago.