KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Sept. 30, 2017) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy football team lost its NEWMAC Conference contest to visiting MIT, 35-7, on Saturday afternoon at Brooks Stadium. The Mariners fall to an even 2-2 on the season (1-1 NEWMAC) with the loss, while the Engineers improve to 4-1 (2-0 NEWMAC).
21 of MIT's 35 points on the afternoon came after USMMA turnovers, as the Mariners suffered seven TOs throughout the 60 minutes – five interceptions and two fumbles. The Engineers' jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first 15:43 of action after finding the end zone on their first possession of the game and then turning two-straight Merchant Marine interceptions into TDs after quick drives.
The Mariners responded early in the second quarter with a defensive touchdown when junior Jake Wallace (Pittsburgh, Pa.) ran in a four-yard scoop-and-score. USMMA had opportunities to inch closer into the game on back-to-back drives later in the quarter where momentum was going its way. However, a pair of red-zone turnovers – a fumble at the 13-yard line and then an interception in the end zone – ended both threats, and the Engineers entered the locker rooms at halftime ahead 21-7.
Neither team produced much offense in the third quarter, as the first four possessions resulted in punts. MIT got the ball with under a minute to play in the quarter and just two plays later, junior quarterback Udgam Goyal hooked up with classmate Eddy Garcia-Montes for the duo's second TD connection of the day, this on a 60-yard TD pass that put the Engineers ahead, 28-7. The visitors tacked on one more touchdown in the fourth to close out the scoring on the day.
Junior defensive back Jesse Byorth (Billings, Mont.) tied for the game-high with 10 tackles, while classmate Jacob Davis (East Chatham, N.Y.) and sophomore Reno Dubreuil (Moorpark, Calif.) both had nine stops apiece. Wallace finished the day with three tackles and the score on the fumble recovery.
Offensively, senior Brice Moore (Pace, Fla.) threw for 146 yards on 16 completions, while also leading the team on the ground with 42 yards. Sophomore Joe Vitelli (Warrington, Pa.) was his top target with 10 catches for 92 yards.
Senior Erik Swayne (Great Falls, Va.) averaged 39.5 yards on six punts with a long of 44 yard and also averaged 55 yards on two kickoffs, while classmate Jake McDonough (Wilmington, N.C.) converted his only PAT kick. Freshman returner Matt Restifo (Hudson, Ohio) amassed 57 yards on five kickoff returns (11.4 yards per return).
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For the Engineers, Goyal was 20-for-30 passing for 217 yards and three TDs, while also gaining 61 yards on the ground. Garcia-Montes ended the day with six catches for 119 yards and two scores and sophomore tight end Booker Schelhaas also caught a TD pass. Sophomore John Robertson led all runners in the game with 65 yards and scored twice on the ground.
Senior linebacker Matt Nicolai tied Byorth for the game-high of 10 tackles and had two of MIT's five interceptions. Classmate Kyle Pina recorded nine tackles and had one of the Engineers' two fumble recoveries and sophomore AJ Iversen forced a fumble with a strip-sack.
Up next, the Mariners will travel up to Northfield, Vt., next Saturday, Oct. 7, for a NEWMAC matchup against Norwich University. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. at the Cadets' Sabine 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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