GAME #8 PREVIEW -- Bears Host Nichols on Halloween

Eli Maurer
Eli Maurer

NICHOLS (1-6, 0-4) AT COAST GUARD (4-3, 3-1)
OCTOBER 31, 2015 -- CADET MEMORIAL FIELD -- 1:00

ON THE AIR: The game will be aired live on WXLM-980 AM. There also both an audio and video stream available and those links can be found at www.cgasports.com on the football schedule page.

THE SERIES: Coast Guard leads 2-0.

LAST YEAR: Sophomore quarterback Derek Victory threw for 259 yards and a career-high four touchdowns leading Coast Guard to a 28-12 win over Nichols in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) opener for both teams.

The Bears finished with 348 total yards, 259 of those in the air while Nichols totaled 435 total yards, 223 of those on the ground.

Victory threw a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter as the Bears led 14-0 at the break. Senior Jake Wawrzyniak's 41-yard run down to the 5-yard line set up Victory's third touchdown pass of the game a 5-yard strike to junior Jordan Groff as the Bears pushed the lead to 21-6 with 12:20 left to put the game away.

Groff, who led the Bears with eight receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns, would add a 54-yard touchdown reception from Victory with 6:57 left as the Bears led 28-6.

Nichols closed the scoring with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Respass to senior Brett Franciosi with 1:27 left.

Victory was 22 of 34 on the day with the four touchdowns and two interceptions while senior Collis Brown had six receptions for 80 yards while Wawrzyniak led the Bears with six carries for 57 yards in the win.

Junior Andre Rickerson's 3-yard touchdown run capped a 15 play, 97-yard drive on Nichols' first possession of the second half to cut the deficit to 14-6 after the extra point was blocked by senior Aaron Black with 6:35 left in the third quarter.

Following a Coast Guard punt, sophomore quarterback Quillian Respass' 15-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-five was called back for a hold and the Bison turned the ball over on downs following an incomplete pass with 2:16 left in the third quarter.

Nichols took the opening kickoff and marched down the field inside chewing up 7:46 off the clock. They converted three third downs and moved inside the Bears 20-yard line before a pair of penalties stalled the drive as the Bison turned it over on downs at the 22-yard line.

Coast Guard junior punter Tyler Henning, who is ninth nationally with a 42.5 yard average, boomed a 56-yard punt to pin Nichols at its own 3-yard line and the Bears defense forced a punt.

Victory was intercepted by freshman Brian Camacho at the Nichols 49-yard line on the Bears' next possession.

Following a Nichols punt, Coast Guard marched 92 yards in seven plays as Victory threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to senior Blake Thompson, his first touchdown of the season. The big play in the drive was a 48-yard pass from Victory to senior Collis Brown. Sophomore Chris Bell made his first career extra point as the Bears took a 7-0 lead with 13:03 left in the second quarter.

The Bears defense would get a three-and-out and a 17-yard punt return by junior Mark Behne would give Coast Guard the ball at the 50. Victory would throw a 12-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Bryan Popp, his first career touchdown reception, with 9:16 left in the half for a 14-0 lead.

Junior Joe Rizzardi, who returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns against Nichols last season, intercepted Nichols quarterback Quillian Respass at the 12-yard line and returned it 23 yards, but junior Connor Richard intercepted Victory and returned it 32 yards to set up the Bison at the Bears' 19-yard line.

The Bears defense stopped the Bison inside the 5-yard line and sophomore Grant Kilmek would miss a 20-yard field goal with 21 seconds left as the Bears took the 14-0 lead into the half.

Senior Victor Rizzardi also had an interception while Joe Rizzardi  led the Bears with 16 tackles, nine solo in the win.

Nichols dominated the time of possession in the first half 21:55 to 8:05 and the Bison had the ball for 37 minutes and 53 seconds in the game.

LAST WEEK: Freshman quarterback Riley Cote in just his second career start accounted for all six touchdowns as he threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for two touchdowns leading Curry to a 42-14 win over Coast Guard.

The Bears record setting junior quarterback Derek Victory left the game with an injury after the first series and Curry scored touchdowns on four straight possessions to end the first half.

Nichols dropped their fifth straight losing 35-6 to Salve Regina. The Seahawks rushed for 392 yards and compiled 569 yards of total offense as Sam Pascale rushed for a school-record 265 yards in the win for Salve.

Salve Regina sophomore James Dawson carried the ball 12 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

LET THERE BE LIGHT: Coast Guard played the first home night game since 1996 to open the 2015 season beating Anna Maria 34-6. The Bears beat Mass. Maritime in that last home night game 42-21 on Sept. 21st of 1996. This year's season opener was also the first ever Thursday night opener for the Bears.

BEARS TO COMPETE IN NEWMAC IN FOOTBALL BEGINNING IN 2017: It was announced in April that the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) will begin sponsoring the sport of football starting in the 2017 season. Current conference members, Coast Guard, MIT, Springfield College and WPI will be joined by Maine Maritime Academy, Merchant Marine Academy and Norwich University and Catholic, who enter the NEWMAC as associate members in 2017.

Springfield, WPI, and Merchant Marine have been participating in the Liberty League, while MIT, Coast Guard, and Maine Maritime are members of the New England Football Conference, and Norwich is a part of the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference and Catholic is part of the ODAC. In addition to the connection Maine Maritime, Merchant Marine and Norwich have to Coast Guard, MIT, Springfield and WPI in football; they also have long-standing relationships with NEWMAC members in other sports.  

BEARS PICKED SIXTH IN THE NEFC PRESEASON POLL: Defending New England Football Conference Champion MIT was picked by the coaches in the Conference to repeat its NEFC title while Coast Guard has been picked sixth.

2015 POLL
1. MIT 61 (6 first place votes)
2. Western New England 56 (2 first place votes)
3. Salve Regina University 41
Endicott College 41
5. Curry College 30
6. U.S. Coast Guard Academy 25
7. Maine Maritime Academy 23
8. Nichols College 11

*Points are awarded based on position selected in the poll. A first place vote is awarded one point, a second place vote is two points, etc.

DEREK WAS THE KEY TO VICTORY: Junior quarterback Derek Victory was the key to the Bears winning three straight games for the first time in eight years this year as he did not throw an interception. In fact, Victory had just two interceptions on the season, both back in week two. He has attempted 149 passes since being intercepted in the fourth quarter at Merchant Marine. Last year, Victory was intercepted 21 times. The Bears lead the NEFC in turnover margin at at plus nine with 15 takeaways and just six turnovers. He was injured on Saturday and will miss the rest of the season.

VICTORY REWRITES THE RECORD BOOK: Junior quarterback Derek Victory, who has started the last 24 games for Coast Guard has set four career records this season. He has 5,067 yards of total offense breaking the mark of 4,883 yards held by Jon Resch (2009-12) and Victory has 4,866 career passing yards breaking the mark of 4,569 also set by Resch. Victory also set the Academy records for a career in pass attempts (915) and pass completions (508) earlier this season.

HENNING BOOTS HIS WAY INTO THE RECORD BOOK: Senior Tyler Henning broke the career record for extra points in the win over Maine Maritime on Oct. 3rd.  He now has 95 in his career breaking the mark of 87 set by David Lieberman (2004-07). Henning is also just two field goals shy of the school record of 28 held by Jacob Shackleford (2008-2011).

BEARS TO HONOR BOB FLYNN IN 2015: The Coast Guard football team will pay tribute to a very special former cadet-athlete and great friend of the academy - Mr. Bob Flynn, CGA Class of 1974.  Bob served as the Chairman of the Board of the Coast Guard Foundation starting in 2008 until his tragic and sudden death in February of this year.  The Bears will wear a special decal on their helmets this season in his memory, featuring Bob's initials and a ribbon depicting his very favorite symbol – the Coast Guard Tartan print.  We will always remember Bob, and honored his service to and relentless advocacy on behalf of the academy at halftime of the home opener against Anna Maria. Members of his family served as honorary captains during the pre-game coin toss.-

COACH GEORGE IS BEARS WINS LEADER: Coast Guard head coach Bill George, in his 17th season, has a record 56 career wins as head coach at the Academy as he passed John Merriman for the most in program history in the win over Maine Maritime on Oct. 19th, 2013.

Merriman was the coach from (1930-1945) and the Gymnasium is named is his honor. In 2012, George passed NFL Hall of Famer and former Director of Athletics and head football coach Otto Graham, who had 43 wins in his two stints as head coach (1959-'65 and 1974-'75). Coach George led the Bears to a pair of NEFC Bogan Division championships in 2006 and 2007.

BEARS TO HONOR COAST GUARD'S ANNIVERSARY: The United States Coast Guard celebrates its 225th anniversary and the Coast Guard football team will wear a 225 sticker with the Coast Guard racing stripe on the back of their blue helmet and will wear a larger sticker on the side of their white helmet with the traditional Bear head on the other side. The team will wear these helmet stickers for the rest of the season.

THROW BACK WEEKEND: Coast Guard will wear their throwback uniforms to honor the 1963 team and their accomplishments. The uniforms featurethe same colors and design worn by the 1963 team coached by NFL Hall of Famer Otto Graham. The 1963 football team was the first to go undefeated and untied in Coast Guard Academy history. Coached by Graham, CGA pounded out an 8-0 record while giving up just 42 points – the lowest total surrendered by any football team in Academy history. The 1963 team advanced to a post-season Tangerine Bowl for the first time ever, where they lost to Western Kentucky by a 27-0 score.

SCOUTING COAST GUARD: The Bears, who had their three-game win streak snapped on Saturday, look to bounce back and remain perfect at home on the season.

Junior quarterback Derek Victory who is 106 of 193 for 1,119 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions on the season was injured on the first drive on Saturday and is out for the season. Sophomore Adam Davis, who is 14 of 27 for 117 yards with a touchdown, will make his first career start.

Senior Jordan Groff leads the team with 33 receptions, 296 yards and three touchdowns while sophomore tight end Cody Bain has 20 receptions for 280 yards and a score.

Senior Mike Clancy leads the Bears with 77 carries for 336 yards and four touchdowns.

Coast Guard is averaging 20.7 points and a league-low 261.6 yards of total offense per game, 178.3 yards in the air and 83.3 on the ground.

The Bears defense is allowing 21.3 points per game, third best in the NEFC along with 449.7 yards per game, 191.1 passing and 258.6 on the ground.

Senior strong safety Joe Rizzardi leads the Bears with 58 tackles on the season, 39 solo while senior linebacker Kyle Wood is second with 55 hits, 32 solo. Senior free safety Mark Behne is third with 49 tackles while leading the team with three interceptions, 3.5 tackles for loss and eight pass breakups.

Senior punter Tyler Henning, a first team All-conference and All-ECAC selection last season, leads the New England Football Conference (NEFC) and is 9th nationally with a 41.6 yard average this season and he also handles the kicking duties and is 5 of 8 on field goal attempts and 16 of 17 on extra points.

SCOUTING NICHOLS: The Bison look to snap a five-game slide and pickup their first NEFC win of the season.

Sophomore Michael McCourt is 73 of 143 for 1,118 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. His favorite target is sophomore Derrick Warren, who leads the team with 26 receptions for 606 yards and six touchdowns.

Junior Grant Klimeck leads the Bison ground game with 97 carries and 328 yard and four touchdowns.

Nichols is averaging a league-low 17.9 points per game. The Bison are totaling 267.1 yards per game, ahead of only Coast Guard, 189.3 in the air and a NEFC-low 74.78 rushing yards per game.

Sophomore linebacker Brett McEvoy leads the team with 64 tackles, 33 solo and two interceptions while sophomore linebackerTJ Ellison is second with 55 tackles, 28 solo.

Nichols is allowing 34.7 points and 444.1 yards per game, a league-high 221 passing yards per game and 223.1 rushing yards per game.

UP NEXT: Coast Guard will host Western New England at 1 p.m. on November 7th

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