Dickinson College scored 26 points in the second half, its quarterback threw for 301 yards and the Red Devils were inside Catholic's 20-yard line in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. But the comeback fell just short and Catholic earned its first victory under new Coach Ro Waldron, 29-26, at the new Raymond DuFour Complex yesterday.
The victory had a hollow ring to it, though; senior Tony Gallis dislocated a kneecap and is likely to be out for the year. He had set the school's career passing records for completions and yardage before getting hurt in the second quarter with his team up, 10-0. He was 11 of 18 for 164 yards.
"It's a tragedy to lose your starting quarterback in the first game," Waldron said. "I think they (his players) were emotionally drained when they saw that happen."
Dave Long replaced Gallis, but had practiced only 1 1/2 weeks because of difficulties "at home and with study habits." As a result, the Cardinals downshifted their offense for him.
With some help from the defense that was overpowering in the first half, and tough when it counted in the second, the Cardinals led by 19-0 at the half, and 29-0 with 3:21 to go in the third quarter. Ray Hoeymans' three field goals, including a career-best, school-record 48-yarder, were a big help, too.
Before the injury, Gallis completed a 31-yard touchdown pass to brother Ed for a 7-0 lead on the game's first drive. Hoeymans' first field goal made it 10-0. After watching the quarterback leave on a stretcher, Hoeymans made it 13-0. Melvin Smith's interception set up John Middendorf's two-yard touchdown run with 50 seconds left in the first half.
Catholic's Ned Leonard intercepted a pass by Stan Abromauage deep in Red Devils territory to set up Long's 15-yard pass-and-run touchdown to Walter Kalinowski. It gave Catholic a 26-0 lead with 10:01 left in the third. Hoeymans' third field goal made it 29-0.
The Red Devils finally took advantage of the change in quarterbacks and the letdown by Catholic. The Dickinson defense gave the offense better field position and Abromauage made good use of it.
With 10 seconds left in the third quarter, Tony Simmons went over the top to score after Abromauage's three straight completions set up the play. Simmons went the same route with the same success on the two-point conversion. Abromauage threw Rich Gilbert a five-yard scoring pass with 9:58 to go in the game, and then found him open again for the two points.
It was 29-16 and Catholic was in trouble. Peter Manzi's second of three interceptions averted one Dickinson score but the Red Devils got the ball back four plays later on Catholic's 42. Three plays after that it was 29-24, because Tom Caphart caught Abromauage's 18-yard pass in the end zone. Abromauage threw to Steve Esmond for the two-point conversion with 4:11 left.
The Red Devils threatened again in the last two minutes. But on fourth and three on Catholic's 10 with 1:43 left, Abromauage was short by less than a yard when he ran out of a collapsing pocket. Catholic held the ball and took a safety when it was forced to punt.
Abromauage, who, though he got a bad spot on his fourth-down run, said his defense and the loss of Gallis allowed the comeback.
"The defense made a couple big plays and that turned things around. We got the field position we didn't have in the first half," said Abromauage, who completed 24 of 47 passes but had five interceptions. "(Gallis) was really their whole offense. Everything revolved around Gallis."
Waldron said, "We let it get away in the second half . . . but we didn't let it all get away. We're 1-0 and we're happy about that."