Opening with a bang

Joe Rollins © 2010 David Sinclair/McDaniel College

Catholic outlasts McDaniel in 39-36 season-opening thriller

WESTMINSTER, Md. – Catholic scored the final 15 points of the game to take a 39-36 victory over McDaniel, capping season-opening football action with a 34-yard touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:01 to play on Saturday.

Joe Rollins (Temple Hills, Md./Surrattsville) racked up 292 all-purpose yards for the Green Terror (0-1), including 159 rushing and a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Greg Cordivari threw for 459 yards on 31 of 48 passing with three touchdowns to lead the Cardinals (1-0), who watched McDaniel score the first 19 points of the second half to erase a 24-17 halftime deficit.

After Jesse Jarvis (Clear Spring, Md./Clear Spring) moved the Green Terror 29 yards on the final three plays of the third quarter, Rollins moved the team 12 more yards at the start of the fourth quarter to set his team up for a first-and-goal at the Catholic 3.

After the first of three fourth-quarter botched snaps, Tom Massucci (Tabernacle, N.J./Seneca) found Shane Edmond (Sherman, Conn./New Milford) in the back of the end zone for his only catch of the day and first collegiate touchdown reception.

Jake Nichols' (Frederick, Md./Gov. Thomas Johnson) ensuring PAT gave the hosts a 36-24 advantage, capping a 19-0 stretch over 14 minutes, 44 seconds of game action.

The Cardinals needed just eight plays and 2:25 to go 85 yards and make it a one-possession game with 10:36 to play.

A 32-yard connection between Cordivari and Nick Cortese keyed the drive before Cordivari was able to find Alonzo Cooke from 17 yards out for the score.

The two teams exchanged punts before the Green Terror took over at its own 31 with 7:54 on the clock.

Behind eight Rollins rushes that netted 39 yards, McDaniel ate up 6 minutes, 15 seconds but were unable to convert two attempts of less than one yard from the Catholic 10 to turn it over on downs with 1:39 showing.

Cordivari completed five of his six passes on a 6-play, 42-second drive that put the visitors on top by one. Cordivari hit Jeff Frusciante in the front of the end zone for the two-point conversion and a three-point lead.

Massucci hit Woody Butler (Smithsburg, Md./Middletown) for 12 yards on the first play of the ensuing drive. A 13-yard rush and a 16-yard connection with Tom Orrok (Point Pleasant, N.J./Point Pleasant) from backup quarterback Nick Valori (Sewell, N.J./Washington Twp.) moved the ball inside the Cardinal 20 with 17.4 seconds to play.

An illegal substitution penalty made it a 39-yard field goal attempt, which drifted just to the right of the uprights to give Catholic the win.

Nichols and Brian Gongaware exchanged field goals in the first quarter. Nichols came from 25 yards while Gongaware hit from 34.

A 50-yard punt from Nichols pinned Catholic at its own three-yard line at the end of the first quarter and the Green Terror defense forced a punt from the end zone three plays late to give the offense the ball at the Cardinal 33.

A 15-yard pass to Nick O'Melia (Taneytown, Md./Francis Scott Key) set up a first down at the 11 before back-to-back Rollins runs gave the hosts a 10-3 lead with 11:40 to play.

After Catholic tied the game on a Cordivari-to-Lawrence DeSimone connection, Rollins took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for his first career return for touchdown.

The Cardinals responded immediately, taking the next possession 80 yards on 11 plays.

Mike Pitensberger found the end zone for the second time with 19 seconds to play in the first half, finishing a 7-play, 83-yard drive to give Catholic the 24-17 lead at halftime.

Nichols once again pinned the Cardinals deep with a punt early in the second half, putting the ball at the half-yard line.

One play later, Sam Cox (Towson, Md./Towson) met Pitsenberger in the end zone for the Green Terror's first safety since Nov. 12, 2005 to ignite the 19-point run.

Butler caught a 14-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone two plays after having a six-yarder wiped off the board by a penalty to make it a 26-24 game with 7:21 to play.

After a Kevin White (Bryn Mawr, Pa./Haverford Twp.) interception, Nichols capped the next drive with a career-long 40-yard field goal for a five-point lead.

Cooke finished with 127 yards on eight catches for Catholic while Ouellette caught nine balls for 97 yards.

Diego Weiner (Miami, Fla./Riverside Military Academy [Ga.]) led the McDaniel defense with nine tackles.

The Green Terror opens the Centennial Conference schedule at home against Moravian on Saturday. Game time is 2 p.m.

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Joe Rollins talks about his day and the season.

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