Setting the Scene… USMMA welcomes Rochester to Captain Tomb Field at Brooks Stadium for a Liberty League showdown Saturday afternoon. Merchant Marine has won three of its last four games, including a 34-31 triumph over RPI last weekend. The Mariners will bring a ground attack that averages over 300 yards per game against a Yellow Jackets rushing defense that ranks seventh in the Liberty League. Rochester opened its last game with 30 unanswered points and held on for a 30-20 victory over St. Lawrence.
Series History... Rochester owns a commanding 15-1 record all-time against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The series between the now conference rivals dates back to the 1952 season. However, the Mariners lone victory came just two years ago as USMMA defeated the Yellow Jackets convincingly, 48-19. In that game, John-Leon Gosselin (Nashua, NH) rushed for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Rochester got a measure of revenge last year as they knocked off Merchant Marine, 45-16, in Kings Point, NY.
View From the "Toop"… Check out the weekly video preview with Merchant Marine Head Coach Mike Toop as he discusses the Mariners' week six match-up:
Scouting the Yellow Jackets... Rochester does most of its offensive damage through the air, gaining twice as many yards passing (1,078) than rushing (403). Quarterback Dean Kennedy orchestrates the attack and has accounted for 961 yards and six touchdowns in 2012. The Yellow Jackets top receiver is Thomas Hayes, who has recorded 302 yards on 16 catches this year, including three touchdowns. Tony Ortega has anchored the defense, totaling 35 tackles, while James Barrett is the team's top pass rusher, posting three sacks over the first four games. Rochester has had a problem with turnovers in 2012 and has given up the ball seven times while only notching two takeaways for a -5 margin, which ranks last in the Liberty League.
Around the Liberty League... The Liberty League standings continued to take shape as each conference member played its second league game last weekend. Hobart and Union are the only 2-0 teams remaining in the circuit . On the other hand, both WPI and St. Lawrence are 0-2. Hobart was the only road team to win on the road last weekend while USMMA, Rochester, and Union were all triumphant at home. All eight teams will be in action against each other again this weekend.
Up Next... The Mariners will take to the road next weekend to face-off against one of the Liberty League's newest members, Springfield. The contest will feature two of the top rushing attacks in the nation as both teams primarily run the option.
Mariner Quick Hits
Ground and Pound… The Mariners option attack has produced huge gains in 2012 as USMMA has averaged 301 rushing yards per game. Statistically, Merchant Marine currently ranks 11th in NCAA Division III in rushing offense. John-Leon Gosselin (Nashua, NH) leads the team with 433 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012.
Welcome Back Coviello… In his first game back from an injury Alex Coviello (Cape Coral, FL) led the Mariners with 141 rushing yards and three touchdowns in last week's 34-31 victory over RPI. All three of the senior's scores came in the first half as the Mariners built a 28-13 advantage going into the intermission. Coviello concluded the day with a 22-yard scamper for a first down that allowed the home team to kneel out the clock and secure the win on Homecoming.
"Stone" Cold Defense... Cornerback Skyler Stone (Glen Allen, VA) intercepted a pass on the first play from scrimmage against RPI. The freshman is getting a reputation for striking early after recording a pick on the opponent's opening possession in each of the last two games. Stone now has four interceptions in 2012, which puts him atop the Liberty League leaderboard.
Thriving Under Pressure… USMMA's three victories have all come in one possession games. The Mariners knocked off Coast Guard by six points, Maritime (NY) by five points, and RIP in a three point affair. Both of Merchant Marine's losses in 2012 have been by a double digit margin.
Third and Efficient… The Mariners are ranked 20th in NCAA Division III, and second in the conference, converting third down at a 49.3% clip. USMMA was successful on 10-of-16 (62%) on third down last week against RPI.
Washington Stands Tall … Junior Tyler Washington (Chatham, NY) leads the Merchant Marine defense with 38 total tackles in 2012, including 28 solo stops. He also has one interception and one tackle for a loss on his season stat line.