KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Sept. 16, 2017) – On Saturday, the USMMA football team hosted rival SUNY Maritime at Brooks Stadium during Homecoming and Hall of Fame Weekend festivities. After the Mariners jumped out to a 14-0 lead early, the Privateers answered back in the second and the two teams ended up knotted up at 24-24 at halftime. Merchant Marine jumped ahead early in the second half and led 31-24 after the third, however Maritime scored two touchdowns in the fourth, including the go-ahead TD with just 1:09 to play, to claim the victory.
In defeat, the Mariners fall to 1-1 on the season, while the Privateers improve to 3-0 to start the year.
The Mariner defense scored the first points of the game, as junior Brooks Cannell (Ambler, Pa.) intercepted a pass on the Privateers' first possession and returned it 44 yards for the TD just 36 seconds into action. Senior Jake McDonough's (Wilmington, N.C.) PAT made the score 7-0 in favor of USMMA.
The Merchant Marine offense also scored on its first drive, as junior Joseph Bellomo (Holliston, Mass.) capped off a 15-play, 67-yard drive with his first of two trips to the end zone on the day at 6:51 of the first. After time expired in the opening quarter, SUNY Maritime cut its deficit in half early in the second when junior Thomas Wright connected with classmate Brandonn Drumgole for a 6-yard TD, and senior Matthew Murphy's PAT made it 14-7, Mariners.
It took less than two minutes for USMMA to respond, as Bellomo added a 1-yard TD run to his stat line that ended a 7-play, 65-yard drive at 10:28 of the second. However, the Maritime offense put together a drive that culminated with a 33-yard connection from Wright to senior Matt Ward that brought the visitors back to within a touchdown.
That tying TD came on the Mariners' next offensive possession, when the Privateers took advantage of a Merchant Marine fumble and junior Matt Mavrovich brought it back 24 yards for the game-tying score. SUNY Maritime then went ahead, 24-21, when Murphy nailed a 48-yard field goal at 2:14 of the third.
Merchant Marine was able to tie the score up at 24-all when McDonough converted a 27-yard FG as the last seconds ticked off the clock in the second half and the two teams went into the locker rooms all square.
The Mariners came out strong to start the third quarter and took the lead back when senior quarterback Brice Moore (Pace, Fla.) ran in a five-yard TD to make it 31-24. That was the only scoring in the third, as both teams would miss a field goal apiece in the frame.
After the two teams traded three-and-outs early in the third, Maritime went on an 11-play, 80-yard drive that concluded with Drumgole's second touchdown reception of the day that tied the score up at 31-31. Merchant Marine was able to get a pair of first downs on its next drive, however the possession ended with another missed field goal, this from 42 yards.
After the Privateers took over on possession, with 5:36 remaining, they were able to run the clock down to just over a minute and score the go-ahead touchdown at 1:09. The Mariners seemed to grab some momentum and got the ball up the field quickly into Maritime territory, however, they were set back due to a penalty and were unable to convert after a few chances from the Privateer 45-yard line.
Moore was the Mariners' leading rusher with 142 yards and one TD, while senior Luke Tiefenthaler (Freehold, N.J.) amassed 80 yards on the ground and Bellomo ended the day with 51 yards and two scores. Moore was also 13-for-29 passing for 173 yards with one interception. His top target was sophomore Joe Vitelli (Warrington, Pa.), who hauled six catches for 126 yards.
Defensively, Cannell tied for the game-high with 12 total tackles (six solo, six assisted) to go along with two pass breakups and the interception returned for the 44-yard score. Senior Justin Sydlowski (Plymouth, Mich.) was right behind with 11 tackles (four solo, seven assisted). The Mariner defense also sacked Wright a total of three times on the day, with junior Jake Wallace (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and junior Trever Huss (Orange City, Iowa) each getting solo sacks and junior Charles Deegan (Huntington, N.Y.) and Addison Radcliff (Orlando, Fla.) combined for the other.
Senior Erik Swayne (Great Falls, Va.) averaged 44.5 yards on four punts including a career-long of 65 yards in the fourth quarter and two others that were 40-plus yards.
For the Privateers, Wright ended the day 22-for-45 for 323 passing yards with three TD passes and one pick. Drumgole made 13 catches for 164 yards and scored twice and senior Chris Olberding led the team with 77 rushing yards. Senior Kendal Parker led the SUNY Maritime defense with 12 tackles, while sophomore Liam Bailey had 11 tackles and two pass breakups.
Up next, Merchant Marine will open NEWMAC action with a road game at Maine Maritime next weekend, Saturday, Sept. 23, up in Castine, Maine. Kickoff is slated for 12-noon at the Mariners' Ritchie Field. Live stats and a live video feed of the game will be available with links on the USMMA Football Schedule Page.
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