GAME #9 PREVIEW -- Bears Host First Place Showdown

GAME #9 PREVIEW -- Bears Host First Place Showdown

#19 WESTERN NEW ENGLAND (8-0, 5-0) AT COAST GUARD (5-3, 4-1)

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 on the football schedule page.

THE SERIES: The series is tied 1-1.

LAST YEAR: Senior running back Kevin Cook had a career-high 246 yards as Western New England, the #1 team in New England  beat Coast Guard 22-7 in New England Football Conference action at Golden Bear Stadium, a game in which it rained from start to finish, heavy at times.

Western New England held Coast Guard to just 225 yards of total offense and the Golden Bears defense intercepted Coast Guard quarterback Derek Victory four times in the win.

Victory passed for 152 yards on 22 of 52 attempts and an 18-yard touchdown toss to junior Jordan Groff, who finished with two receptions for 25 yards. Senior Collis Brown caught five balls for 33 yards. Coast Guard was held to 73 yards rushing as a team, with junior Mike Clancy getting 36 yards on 11 carries.

Western New England finished with 391 yards to total offense, 318 of those on the ground.

The Golden Bears led 14-0 at halftime, holding Coast Guard to just two first downs and 43 total yards on 27 plays in the first half while Western New England ran 60 plays in the first half for 263 yards.

The Bears defense kept them in the game all afternoon long and the offense got its only touchdown of the day on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Victory to Groff with 4:13 left in the third quarter cutting the deficit to 14-7 and Coast Guard appeared to have some momentum.

The momentum was short lived as Tucker Schumitz returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown and the Golden Bears converted the two point conversion for a 22-7 lead with 4:01 left in the third quarter.

Victory would be intercepted on two the next three possesions, but following a WNE fumble, Coast Guard drove down to the Golden Bears 27-yard line before turning it over on downs with 6:17 left.

Coast Guard would force a punt and once again drive into WNE territory, but again turned it over on downs, this time at the 29-yard line with 2:50 left to end the chances of a comeback.

Defensively, senior Victor Rizzardi and junior Kyle Wood led the Bears with 12 tackles apiece, followed by juniors James Rizzo (7 solo) and Joe Rizzardi (3 solo) with 11 each. Sophomore Brendan McNeil and junior Mark Behne chipped in 10 apiece.

LAST WEEK: Sophomore quarterback Adam Davis threw for 301 yards and a pair of touchdowns and senior Joe Rizzardi returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown leading Coast Guard to a 24-6 win over Nichols in a New England Football Conference (NEFC) game.

The Bears, who scored all 24 points in the first half, improved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the NEFC while Nichols drops to 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the conference.

Davis, filling in for junior Derek Victory, who was injured last week and is out for the rest of the season, was 25 of 46 for 301 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Western New England remained unbeaten with a 19-13 win as graduate quarterback Tyler Ward threw a pair of second half touchdown passes to overcome a first half deficit.
Ward finished with three passing touchdowns overall, completing 15 of his 31 attempts for 233 yards to go with 46 yards on the ground. Junior Nick Connell carried 26 times for 116 yards, his third consecutive 100+ yard effort and fourth overall this season.

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 eight with 17 takeaways and just nine turnovers. He was injured on October 24th 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 98 (98 of 100) in his career breaking the mark of 87 set by David Lieberman (2004-07). Henning is also just one field goal shy of the school record of 28 held by Jacob Shackleford (2008-2011). Henning is 27 of 44 in his career.

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 57 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.

RIZZARDI HONORED BY NEFC: Senior strong safety Joe Rizzardi was been named the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Bears 24-6 win over Nichols on Saturday.

Rizzardi had a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown while adding ten tackles, nine solo, two for loss and a partially blocking a punt in the win.

He leads the Bears with 68 tackles, 48 solo and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions, two of which he has returned for touchdowns.

SCOUTING COAST GUARD: The Bears look to move into first place in the NEFC and finish a perfect 5-0 at home with a win this afternoon. Coast Guard can win the NEFC Championships with back-to-back wins to close the season.

Sophomore Adam Davis, who threw for 301 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his first career start on Saturday, is 39 of 73 for 418 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions on the season.

Senior Jordan Groff leads the team with 42 receptions, 421 yards and three touchdowns while senior wide receiver Carter Provost is second with 24 receptions for 350 yards and a score.

Senior Mike Clancy leads the Bears with 86 carries for 363 yards and four touchdowns.

Coast Guard is averaging 21.1 points and 270 yards of total offense per game, 193.6 yards in the air and 76.4 on the ground. The Bears are last in the conference in time of possession with 23:53 per game.

The Bears defense is allowing 19.4 points per game, third best in the NEFC along with 426.9 yards per game, 176.6 passing and league-high 250.2 yards on the ground.

Senior strong safety Joe Rizzardi leads the Bears with 68 tackles on the season, 48 solo and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions, two of which he has returned for touchdowns. Senior linebacker Kyle Wood is second with 66 hits, 40 solo. Senior free safety Mark Behne (52 tackles) is tied for the team lead wtih three interceptions and 4.5 tackles for loss to go with his team-high nine pass breakups.

The Bears have the best red zone defense in the NEFC at 55.9 percent (19 of 34 scores).

Senior punter Tyler Henning, a first team All-conference and All-ECAC selection last season, leads the New England Football Conference (NEFC) and is 6th nationally with a 41.9 yard average this season. He leads the conference with 21 punts inside the 20 and ten kicks of more than 50 yards. He unleashed a season-long 69 yard punt in the win on Saturday. He also handles the kicking duties and is 6 of 10 on field goal attempts and 19 of 20 on extra points.

SCOUTING WESTERN NEW ENGLAND: The Golden Bears, ranked 19th nationally, lead the NEFC in scoring offense (39.5), scoring defense (11.9) and total defense (270.5). Western New England is 8-0, its best start in school history, 5-0 in the NEFC. They can also win the NEFC Championship with back-to-back wins to close out the season.

Graduate student quarterback Tyler Ward is 75 of 127 for 1,162 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season. He is also a threat to run the ball carrying 65 times for 420 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target is sophomore wide receiver Mark Dietrich, who has 26 receptions for 438 yards and five touchdowns.

Junior Nick Connell leads the Golden Bears ground attack with 135 carries for 797 yards and a team-high nine rushing touchdowns.

WNE is avergaging 494.5 yards of total offense per game, 290.1 on the ground, second to only Maine Maritime's triple-option. The Golden Bears are averaging 214.1 passing yards per game.

The Golden Bears defense, the best in the conference, as mentioned allowing just 11.9 points and 270.5 yards per game, is second in the NEFC in passing yards allowed (155.6) and rushing yards allowed (114.9).

Senior linebacker Dean Soucie leads the team with 56 tackles, 29 solo while junior linebacker Blair Cook is second with 49 tackles. Senior defensive end Connor DeVarney (38 tackles) leads WNE with eight tackles for loss and five sacks while junior cornerback Obi Etuka has a team-high five interceptions.

UP NEXT: Coast Guard closes out the regular season at Endicott on Nov. 14th with kickoff set for noon.

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