Bears Fall to Merchant Marine in Secretaries' Cup Battle
KINGS POINT, N.Y.—Sophomore quarterback Matthew McDaniels carried 31 times for 245 yards and three touchdowns leading Merchant Marine to a 27-20 win over Coast Guard in the annual battle for the Secretaries' Cup.
McDaniels final touchdown was a 10-yard run with 2:48, a fumbled snap on the PAT kept it a seven points game, 27-20.
The Mariner defense stopped Coast Guard on 4th and 15 on the ensuing drive and took over at the Bears 16-yard line with 1:55 left and ran out the clock.
Merchant Marine (2-0) finished with 394 yards, 368 on the ground in winning the Secretaries' Cup for the third straight season. The Bears (0-2) finished with 242 yards, 84 on the ground.
The Mariners struck first on a 2-yard run by senior fullback Charles Helms with 10:04 left in the opening quarter capping a 41-yard drive.
Following a Coast Guard punt, McDaniels 4-yard touchdown with 5:17 left in the first quarter pushed the lead to 14-0.
The Bears got on the board on a 1-yard run by junior quarterback Blake Thompson with 1:34 left in the first quarter to cap a 73-yard drive. Junior Collis Brown had a pair of key receptions for 38 and 37 yards during the drive.
Coast Guard appeared to tie the game as sophomore James Rizzo returned a fumble 70 yards for a touchdown, but a penalty brought it back and the Bears offense took over, but had to punt it away.
The Bears defense came up big again when sophomore Blake Maurer delivered a big hit forcing a fumble and classmate Blake Bonifas recovered at the Mariner 18-yard line and the sophomore Tyler Henning booted a 45-yard field goal to make the score 14-10 with 10:46 left in the first half.
Merchant Marine had 162 yards of offense in the first half, 136 rushing while the Bears had 113 total yards in the first half, 96 of those through the air.
The Bears took the lead 17-14 on the opening possession of the second half on a 13-yard run by junior Jake Wawrzyniak with 11:46 left in the third quarter. Merchant Marine had an interception on the drive that was negated by a penalty. It was an 82-yard drive to start the half. Brown had the big play, a 37-yard reception down to the 6-yard line, before an unsportsmanlike penalty for taunting put the ball back at the 21-yard line.
McDaniels and the Mariners responded quickly as the sophomore signal called scrambled 43 yards for a touchdown for a 21-17 lead with 9:38 left to cap a 77-yard drive.
Coast Guard senior linebacker Nick Phillips recovered a fumble for the Bears on the Mariners next possession at the MMA 19-yard line, but the offense couldn't move the ball and Henning's 34-yard field goal was blocked with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
The Bears special teams came up big on the next possession as sophomore Joe Rizzardi blocked a punt and senior Evan Rothfeld recovered at the Mariners 37-yard line, but Coast Guard was forced to punt on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Coast Guard sophomore linebacker Kyle Wood recovered a fumble at the Mariner 34-yard line and the Bears settled for a 40-yard field goal by Henning to cut the deficit to 21-20 with 10:58 left.
The teams exchanged punts then following a Merchant Marine punt, the Bears fumbled a snap on a punt on their next possession with 2:59 left setting the Mariners up at the Coast Guard 16-yard line which set up McDaniels final touchdown with 2:48 left.
Wawrzyniak led the Bears with 18 carries for 56 yards while Thompson had 15 carries for 45 yards. Thompson was 13 of 35 for 158 yards.
Coast Guard which turned the ball over five times, did not turn the ball over in the game this week while the Bears defense had four take aways, all fumbles.
Junior Joel Wyman led Coast Guard with 12 tackles while Phillips finished with 11 tackles.
The Bears host Hampden-Sydney in the home opener next Saturday at 1 p.m., when the team will honor the 1963 team which was coached by Otto Graham and went to the Tangerine Bowl, by wearing throwback uniforms.
POST GAME COMMENTS FROM HEAD COACH BILL GEORGE