GAME #1 PREVIEW -- Bears Host Merchant Marine
MERCHANT MARINE (0-1) at COAST GUARD (0-0)
SEPT. 5, 2012 -- 2:30 PM -- CADET MEMORIAL FIELD
ON THE AIR: The game will be aired live on WXLM-980 AM and there will be an audio stream at www.cgasports.com. A video webcast link will be announced later this week.
THE SERIES: Merchant Marine leads 27-13
LAST YEAR: Sophomore wide receiver Chase Dunn caught his third touchdown pass of the afternoon, a 32-yard throw from junior quarterback Stephen Sasso with eight seconds remaining in regulation to lift Merchant Marine to a 35-28 triumph over archrival Coast Guard in the annual battle for the Secretaries' Cup in the 40th meeting between the two rivals.
The Mariners overcame a pair of sizeable deficits to pull off the win, 14-0 early in the second quarter and 21-10 in the third quarter to climax a wild game and an emotional day before a crowd of 2,500 at Tomb Field.
After dropping a 10-8 decision to the Bears in 2010, the Mariners won back the Secretaries Cup as they extended their lead in the competition for the cup to 20-11.
Junior running back Jon-Paul Gosselin ran for 210 yards on 32 carries, which included a 63-yard run that set up J.P. Bourquin's 22-yard field goal in the second quarter. The freshman added a 38-yarder with 14 seconds left in the third period.
Sasso came off the bench to complete five-of-10 passes for 196 yards, including an 80-yard TD to Dunn. All three of Dunn's receptions results in TDs, including a 67-yard reception for Merchant Marine's first score in the opening quarter.
The Mariners, who amassed 503 total yards, struck for three TDs in the third and fourth quarters.
They grabbed a 28-21 lead with Michael Mitchel's two-yard run and Matthew Bozich's two-point conversion with 10:28 remaining in the fourth period. But the Bears tied it on senior quarterback Jarrod Owens' three-yard run and senior Jacob Shackleford's extra point with 1:53 left.
Dunn outleaped three defenders for the game winning catch with eight seconds left.
The Mariners faced an uphill battle early as a pair of junior Eric Gerken TD's – a fumble recovery in the end zone with 5:06 left in the first quarter and a 25-yard TD reception from Owens with 14:53 remaining in the second quarter – gave the Bears a 14-0 advantage.
Owens was 15 of 24 for 151 yards with two touchdowns while also rushing for 24 yards and a score.
Gerken led the Bears with seven receptions for 85 yards while senior Stephen Spotts had five catches for 39 yards.
Sophomore Tyler Hames led the Bears ground attack with 17 carries for 77 yards.
Coast Guard finished with 330 yards of total offense, 222 passing and 108 rushing.
LAST WEEK: Merchant Marine led 21-17 midway through the fourth quarter but Susquehanna rallied late to capture a 37-21 victory on the opening day.
The Mariners held a 7-3 lead at halftime and 14-10 after three quarters before Susquehanna scored 27 points in the fourth quarter for the opening day win. Merchant Marine posted 299 yards of total offense in the game, including a team high 86 rushing yards from Zachary Boucher.
The Susquehanna defense would seal the game down the stretch with a pair of touchdowns. Jack McCarty stripped Merchant Marine quarerback Alex Coviello, recovered the fumble and went 21 yards to for a touchdown to make it a two score game, 30-21, after a missed PAT. Jalon Scott rounded out the scoring with an interception for a pick-six with 1:12 on the clock.
The Mariners finished the game with 224 yards on the ground and were 9-for-15 (60%) on third down conversions. However, the difference in the game was in the turnover battle as Susquehanna had four take-aways to just one for Merchant Marine.
BEARS LOOK TO WIN THE CLOSE ONES THIS YEAR: If one were to bring a script to Hollywood about a team that loses last minute heartbreakers over and over again, the story of last eason for Coast Guard would not be believed. The Bears have had four games decided in the final minute and lost five games by seven points or less. The Bears lost the season opener against Merchant Marine 35-28 on a touchdown pass with eight seconds left.
In October, three of the four games have been decided in the final minute. Fitchburg State beat the Bears 28-21 on a touchdown pass with 13 seconds left on Oct. 1st.
The Bears had back-to-back heartbreakers as they led Westfield State 21-17 and had the ball with under two minutes left and the Owls out of timeouts. Coast Guard fumbled the ball taking a knee on its own 3-yardline only to lose on a touchdown with 49 seconds left. The following week, the Bears trailed 31-30 and missed a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the game after driving 54 yards in 1:30 to get into field goal range.
In the final game of October, a 14-7 loss at Framingham State marked the fourth loss in the month and fifth loss of the season by seven points or less.
BEARS PICKED 7TH IN PRESEASON POLL: Coast Guard has been picked to finish seventh in the Bogan Division in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Pre-Season Coaches Poll.
The Bogan Division coaches voted both 2011 Division champion Framingham State University and Bridgewater State University as co-favorites to win the Division. Each institution received four first place votes, two second and two third place votes each. Each team garnered 58 of a possible 64 points. Westfield State University finished a distant third in the Bogan balloting with 41 points.
In the Boyd Division, defending NEFC champion Western New England also received 58 points with three first place picks, four seconds and a third. Right on the tail of the Golden Bears were Salve Regina University and Endicott College. Each totaled 54 points with Salve Regina taking three first place slots, and Endicott chosen for the top spot on two ballots.
The final NEFC Championship game, pitting the champions of the Bogan and Boyd Divisions, will be held on Saturday, November 10 at noon at the site of the Boyd Division Champion.
BIG WINS IN WEEK ONE: The New England Football Conference (NEFC) had a pair of great non-conference wins on the opening weekend as Bridgewater State beat Springfield 21-7 and Salve Regina knocked off Union 17-14.
OUT WITH THE OLD ... IN WITH BLUE: Coast Guard has changed its helmet this season and for the first time the Bears will wear blue helmets. The old helmets were orange with an interlocking CGA while the new helmets will feature the new Bear logo that will be unveiled on Wednesday, Sept. 5th.
BREAK 'EM UP: This will be the final season of the New England Football Conference's two-division format as eight teams will leave the conference. The eight remaining teams that will make up the new NEFC will be Coast Guard and Maine Maritime from the Bogan Division and Curry, Endicott, MIT, Nichols, Salve Regina and Western New England.
A LOOK BACK ON THE 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 2ND NCAA PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: In 1997, the Coast Guard Bears won their second straight Freedom Football Conference (FFC) and made the program's second consecutive appearance in the NCAA playoffs. Each week, we will look back at a game or games in that magical season in which the team finished 9-2.
In the 1997 season began with a thrilling 22-16 overtime win at RPI as Jamie Amon's 10-yard run in overtime gave the Bears the opening day win and the Shotglass Trophy. RPI had tied the game 17-17 with 7:05 left in regulation. The Bears won the toss in overtime and RPI missed a 41-yard field goal. Coast Guard quarterback Dan Warren threw a 15-yard pass to Joe Comar to set up Amon's winning scamper.
SCOUTING COAST GUARD: Last season, Coast Guard lost five games by seven points or less, four of those in the final minute. Head coach Bill George, in his 14th season, returns 16 starters from that team, seven on offense and nine on defense, however last year is in the past and George is looking forward to the new season and the group of experienced players that will lead the Bears in 2012, the last season of the New England Football Conference's (NEFC) current two division set up.
Coast Guard welcomes back nine starters on offense, including four offensive linemen. Seniors Mike Rauch (LT) and Jacob Bibb (RT) return at the tackle spots while classmate Jed Daleiden is back at center and junior Mike Vitrano returns at right guard while senior Geddy Miller also has game experience and will battle for a starting spot.
Senior Jon Resch, who made five starts in 2010 and served as the backup last season, will start at quarterback. Resch was 35 of 68 for 391 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions last season.
Junior Tyler Hames had a break out year last season and is back at running back. He led the team with 683 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns last season while also catching 32 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Jake Wawrzyniak will also get some carries in the backfield.
With the success of Hames in the backfield, senior Pat Meggers makes the move from running back to his natural position of wide receiver and will be joined by sophomores Collis Brown, who had 18 receptions for 223 yards and a touchdown last season and sophomore Blake Thompson as starting receivers.
Thompson and Wawrzyniak will also be used to return kicks as each had ten kick returns with over an 18 yard average a year ago.
Senior co-captain Casey Paris (7 receptions, 114 yards, 2 TD) will start at tight end for the fourth straight season. He is an exceptional blocker and receiver and one of the top tight ends in the region.
The Bears return nine players on defense. Senior co-captain Curt Barrett and senior Parker Bateson will anchor the experienced linebacker core which includes senior Max Walker, junior Nick Phillips (24 tackles) and sophomore Victor Rizzardi (41 tackles). Barrett led the team with 65 tackles, 36 solo, 11.5 for loss and three sacks last season while Bateson was second with 57 tackles, 31 of those solo.
Up front, senior John Manganiello, an NEFC Bogan Division first team selection last season, leads the defensive line from his nose guard spot. He had 47 tackles, 25 solo, 5.5 for loss and a sack last season. He will joined on the line by defensive ends sophomore Kevin Postiglione, who came on strong late last season and senior Steve Lozier, who made seven starts last season.
The Bears return all four talented veterans in the secondary led by second team All-Bogan Division senior cornerback Drew Russo. Senior Mark Bonner will start at the other corner spot while senior Dante Adams is back at strong safety and junior Evan Rothfeld returns at free safety. Rothfeld led the team with three interceptions last season while Russo had a pair of interceptions.
Sophomore newcomer Joe Kelly will be the starting punter while freshman Tyler Henning will handle placekicking duties.
SCOUTING MERCHANT MARINE: The Mariners were picked to finish seventh in the Liberty League, in the annual preseason poll. Merchant Marine returns a pair of dangerous weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Alex Coviello will look to repeat his production from 2011 as the senior signal caller racked up over 1,300 all-purpose yards as a junior. He will have sophomore lineman Jacob Margrey to run behind. Margrey picked up First-Team All-Liberty League accolades as a freshman. The Mariners were tops in the league in rushing last season, averaging 239.4 yards per game.