Throggs Neck, NY – The USMMA football team edged out Maritime (NY), 7-6, Saturday afternoon to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 1997. The Mariners lone score of the game came on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Berglund (North Kingstown, RI) with just 1:03 remaining in the first half. USMMA forced four turnovers while Jonathan Leone (Whitman, MA) paced the defense with eight tackles and a forced fumble.
Maritime (NY) (0-2) went 93 yards on its first drive of the game and quickly posted the afternoon's first touchdown. Ryan Heizman found Greg Caneparo for a 47-yard completion that resulted in a 6-0 advantage for the Privateers. However, the extra point attempt was unsuccessful and limited the home team's advantage to just six points.
Merchant Marine (3-0) finally cracked the scoreboard on its final possession of the first half, marching 70 yards in 1:38 on eight plays. The Mariners converted on a 3rd-and-6 as Matthew McDaniels (Malverne, NY) rushed for 13 yards to move the chains. Two plays later, Berglund hauled-in his first touchdown reception of the year to give the Mariners a 7-6 edge heading into halftime. McDaniels led the USMMA attack with 125 rushing yards along with 46 yards and one touchdown through the air.
Neither team would be able to crack the scoreboard in the second half as freshman Spencer Blauw (Strasburg, CO) became a valuable weapon. The rookie punter pinned the Privateers inside their own 20 yard line twice and launched a season long punt of 57 yards. The Mariner defense made a statement early in the second half, forcing a Maritime (NY) turnover on the opening possession of the third quarter.
Later in the period, the Privateers faced a 4th-and-1 at the USMMA 28 yard line and chose to leave the offense out on the field. Matthew Morse (Covington, LA) and Andrew Hendrix (Virginia Beach, VA) combined to stuff the rushing attempt for no-gain and force a turnover on downs.
The Mariner defense would come up with two more crucial turnovers in the fourth quarter. The first came with only 4:24 remaining in regulation as the Privateers were beginning a drive at midfield immediately following a USMMA turnover. Michael Biehn (The Woodlands, TX) dove on the loose ball to give Merchant Marine another chance to increase its lead. However, the Privateers would get one more possession with 2:29 to play.
Rubyn Johnson (Jacksonville, FL) came down with an interception with 2:10 to play that gave the Mariners a chance to seal the victory. Charles Helms (North Brunswick, NJ) had back-to-back carries that picked up a first down and enabled Merchant Marine to kneel out the clock and move to 3-0 on the year.
The undefeated Mariners return home next Saturday for Homecoming at the Merchant Marine Academy as they welcome preseason favorite and nationally ranked Hobart to Brooks Stadium.