Bears Drop Heartbreaker in Season-Opener
CANTON, N.Y.— Junior Michael Leffibine's 16-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Joseph Battaglia on 4th-and-six with just 1:21 left lifted St. Lawrence to a come-from-behind, season-opening 21-17 win over Coast Guard.
St. Lawrence had not scored since 10:30 left in the first quarter before the game winning touchdown.
Coast Guard fell behind 14-0 in the first 4:30 of the game, yet rallied to take the lead 17-14 with 4:12 left on a 31-yard reverse by junior wide receiver Collis Brown, who made an acrobatic move to score the touchdown, before dropping the season opener.
The Saints finished with 450 yards, 244 passing while Coast Guard ended with 276 total yards, 219 on the ground.
Coast Guard junior quarterback Blake Thompson making his first career start was 6 of 14 for 67 yards with two interceptions while he led the Bears on the ground with 94 yards on 15 carries while junior Jake Wawrzynkiak had 25 carries for 74 yards.
Brown led the Bears with four receptions for 44 yards. Sophomore backup quarterback Drew Londo was 4 of 9 with one interception for -10 yards passing.
St. Lawrence got off to a fast star as they took the opening kickoff drove 65 yards when Lefflbine threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to freshman Mitch Gallagher with 10:45 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
The Saints junior Jayson Leigh then intercepted Thompson's first collegiate pass on the Bears first play from scrimmage and returned it 37 yards pushing the lead to 14-0 with 10:30 left in the quarter.
Wawrzyniak fumbled on the Bears second play of the next series, but the Bears defense stepped up and forced a punt.
The Bears got on the board when sophomore Tyler Henning booted a 32-yard field goal with 41 seconds left in the first quarter. The key play of the drive was a 43-yard pass from Thompson to junior Collis Brown. Coast Guard got the ball for that drive following a defensive stop when the Saints turned the ball over on downs at the Bear 21-yard line.
St. Lawrence missed a 24-yard field goal that was partially blocked by sophomore Blake Bonifas and a Saints lineman and following a 2-yard punt into the wind, senior Evan Rothfeld intercepted Lefflbine at the 2-yard line to again keep the Saints off the board.
However, Coast Guard backup quarterback Drew Londo was intercepted by Leigh and the Saints took over at the Bear 41-yard line, but again the defense stepped up and got the ball back on downs.
The Bears special teams came up big again as sophomore Eli Maurer blocked a 37-yard field goal with 1:33 left in the half and the score remained 14-3 at halftime. The Saints were just one-of-four in the red zone in the first half with an interceptions and a pair of blocked field goals.
St. Lawrence had 200 yards of total offense in the first half, 133 rushing while Coast Guard finished the first half with just 102 yards, 56 passing and 43 of those on pass on the one long play to Brown.
The second half saw St. Lawrence intercept Thompson on the opening drive at the Saint 15-yard line after the Bears led by Thompson had moved the ball well on the ground during the drive.
Following yet another stop by the Bears defense, Coast Guard fumbled the punt giving St. Lawrence the ball at the Bear 46-yard line. The Saints again had a kick blocked, Rothfeld returned it 58 yards and following a penalty during the return, Coast Guard got the ball at the St. Lawrence 12.
The Bears capitalized as Wawrzyniak scored on a 1-yard run with 4:33 left in the quarter and Henning's PAT cut the deficit to 14-10.
A 53-yard pass from Lefflbine to junior Colby Johnson on the first play of the fourth quarter set up the Saints in the red zone later in the drive yet again, but once again the Bears defense got a turnover on downs taking over at the 10-yard line.
Following an exchange of punts the Bears marched 79 yards in ten plays capped on a 31-yard run on a reverse by Brown for a 17-14 lead with 4:12 left.
Sophomore Joe Rizzardi led Coast Guard with 14 tackles, ten solo while senior Nick Phillips registered 11 tackles.
The Bears are back in action next Saturday when they travel to play Merchant Marine in the annual battle for the Secretaries' Cup with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m.
POST GAME COMMENTS FROM HEAD COACH BILL GEORGE