KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 10, 2018) – The USMMA football team lost its rivalry matchup to Coast Guard, 26-12, on Saturday afternoon at Brooks Stadium, in a game broadcasted by ESPN. In defeat, the Mariners fall to 7-2 (5-2 NEWMAC), while the Bears improve to 7-3 (5-2 NEWMAC) and win the Secretaries' Cup for the first time since 2014.
The Merchant Marine defense forced turnovers on Coast Guard's first two drives of the game – a strip-sack by senior Jake Wallace (Pittsburgh, Pa.) recovered by classmate Trever Huss (Orange City, Iowa) and an interception by fellow senior Jesse Byorth (Billings, Mont.). The Mariners were able to cash in on the second takeaway, as Byorth's return gave them the ball at the Bears' four yard-line. One play later, senior Wiley Martin (Polo, Mo.) found the end zone on a rush up the middle and junior Gavin Gartner's (Cedar Park, Texas) PAT made it 7-0 USMMA at 6:20 of the first quarter.
Once again the defense came up big for the Mariners, as they had a huge fourth-down stop at the one yard-line, however, they went three-and-out on the ensuing drive.
Coast Guard got on the board late in the first after a five-play, 42-yard drive was capped off by a TD pass from junior Ryan Jones to freshman Damaso Jaime, and then senior Cole Austin tacked on the PAT to tie the game up at 7-7 with 27 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Gartner nailed a 26-yard field goal to give the Mariners the lead back, 10-7, at 8:20 of the second, but the Bears were able to take advantage of a Merchant Marine turnover on an interception in the final minute and found the end zone when Jones connected with sophomore Justin Moffatt for a 29-yard TD with just 14 seconds left in the second. The extra point was no good, so Coast Guard took a 13-10 lead into the halftime break.
The Bears got the ball to start the second half and scored a touchdown seven plays into the opening drive when Jones found Jaime once again, this time from 30 yards out, giving USCGA a 20-10 lead.
The next three possessions resulted in punts, before the Mariners forced another fumble on a sack, this by senior Brian Harris (Yonkers, N.Y.), recovered by freshman Eric Davidson (Savannah, Ga.). The USMMA offense was unable to muster up something big, however, and they were forced to punt - the first of three more possessions that resulted in the teams kicking the ball away.
When the Bears got the ball at 11:46 of the fourth quarter, they used a 10-play, 81-yard and 6:36 possession to put a dagger in with a five-yard touchdown rush by sophomore Jon Wagner. The PAT was blocked by sophomore Noah Newburgh (Gilbert, Ariz.), so Coast Guard went ahead 26-10 with just 5:10 to go in the fourth.
The ball traded hands multiple times in the closing minutes, as Mariners' next three possessions resulted in interceptions and there was also a fumble for the Bears in there as well.
The final points of the game came when the Coast Guard punter, senior Chip Crowley, intentionally ran time of the clock in the final half-minute and was tackled in the end zone for a safety with just 15 seconds left.
The Mariners were led offensively by junior QB Krystian Abbott (Lansing, Kan.), who ran for 55 yards and passed for 21 on 7-of-23 passing, while classmate Joe Vitelli (Warrington, Pa.) caught three passes for 61 yards.
Defensively, USMMA had four sacks, two by Wallace, one by junior Reno Dubreiul (Moorpark, Calif.) and another split between Davidson and senior Jacob Davis (East Chatham, N.Y.). Dubreiul and Davidson tied for the team-lead with eight tackles apiece.
Jones finished the day 22-for-42 for 269 yards and three TDs. Jaime hauled in eight catches for 123 yards and two scores, while Moffatt had a team-high 10 catches for 102 yards and a score. On the ground, sophomore Chris Gardner led the way with 39 yards on eight carries. Wagner had 32 yards on 10 and found the end zone.
Defensively, senior Jake Behne led all players in the game with 18 tackles and he also had an interception. Junior Patrick Crowley and senior Luke Wilson both finished seven tackles apiece. The Bears defense had four interceptions and three sacks on the day.
The Mariners will find out their postseason fate in the next couple of days. Stay logged on to www.USMMASports.com and to our social media accounts (links available below) for more information in the coming days.
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