New London, CT – John-Leon Gosselin (Nashua, NH) scored three touchdowns as Merchant Marine continued its recent dominance over rival Coast Guard, bringing the Secretaries' Cup back to Kings Point for the 12th time in the last 15 years with a 43-37 triumph Saturday afternoon. The victory moves the Mariners record to 21-11 against the Bears in the Competition for the Cup as well as 28-13 overall. USMMA chewed up 396 yards on the ground and also got rushing touchdowns from Alex Coviello (Cape Coral, FL), Mario Colangelo (Staten Island, NY), and Connor Kennedy (Bellerose, NY).
Merchant Marine (1-1) started off the day strong as the defense forced the Bears into a three and out to immediately get the ball to the offense. It took just six plays for the Mariners to find the end zone as Coviello completed a 33-yard pass to Christopher Cook (Ventura, CA) on just the second play from scrimmage. Kennedy dove across the goal line from three yards out to tally the first points of the game and put USMMA on top, 7-0.
Coast Guard (0-1) would immediately respond and march back up the field, primarily on a 57-yard run from Tyler Hames. Jon Resch and Blake Thompson connected for a 20-yard touchdown pass that leveled the game at 7-7. The Bears defense then came up with a stop of their own and gave the ball back to the offense in good field position. USCGA would convert four plays later on another Resch TD pass, this time to Collis Brown from five yards out.
The Mariners answered the challenge and marched down the field in 11 plays, covering 69 yards, on their next drive. Coviello converted on a third-and-two and turned it into a 14-yard touchdown scamper that tied the game, 14-14, just before the end of the first quarter. Merchant Marine pushed back in front on the heels of a Coast Guard miscue that resulted in a safety. USMMA extended its advantage to 23-14 with 5:40 remaining in the first half on the first of Gosselin's trio of TD's, a 34-yard score. The back-and-forth first half would record its final points with 1:11 left in the period as Pat Meggers brought in a 24-yard scoring pass from Resch for the home team. A failed two-point conversion would send the two sides into the locker room with the Mariners leading, 23-20.
The Bears would level the score on their first possession of the second half as Tyler Henning knocked through a 35-yard field goal to make it 23-23. The offenses would then trade touchdowns as the Mariners struck first on Colangelo's two-yard score. Coast Guard once again pulled even on a Jake Wawrzyniak two-yard rushing TD.
The USMMA offense continued to shine and needed just four plays to score again. The big play of the drive was a 56-yard pass from Luke Stidham (Baltimore, MD) to Kennedy. Gosselin again plunged his way into the end zone from two yards out to give the Mariners a 37-30 edge. Gosselin's final score came with four minutes to play as a five-yard touchdown gave USMMA a 43-30 cushion.
However, the archrival Bears would not go quietly and made it a one score affair with 1:57 to play on another touchdown reception from Brown. The ensuing onside-kick would not travel the required ten yards and gave the ball to the Mariners needing just one first down to end the game. Gosselin finished his all-star performance with a 16-yard run that allowed USMMA to kneel out the clock and keep the Secretaries' Cup in Kings Point.
The Mariners were clutch all afternoon, converting 11-of-15 on third down and dominated time of possession with 38:24. The most anticipated game of the 2012 season drew a boisterous crowd of 4,750, including all available USMMA Midshipmen and USCGA Cadets.
The Mariners will look to make it two in a row next week in their first home of the season as they host SUNY Maritime at Brooks Stadium.