Week 4: Merchant Marine at #13 Hobart
TV: Time Warner Cable Sports (Central NY) - Check Your Local Listings
** If you are not in this market, you will be able to access live video, audio, and live stats through the Hobart Athletics Website - www.HWSAthletics.com
Setting the Scene… USMMA will bring back-to-back wins into its first game of the Liberty League schedule as the Mariners clash with defending champion #13 Hobart Saturday afternoon in Geneva, NY. The Mariners two victories come against chief rivals Coast Guard and Maritime (NY) with the later serving as USMMA's home opener. Hobart is a perfect 3-0 in 2012 and is most recently coming off of a 45-26 triumph over Utica. Saturday's contest will be televised live on Time Warner Cable Sports. Live stats, video, and audio will also be available through www.HWSAthletics.com.
Series History... The Statesmen hold a 4-8 lead over the Mariners in the all-time series between the two programs. However, USMMA has not defeated Hobart since a 27-14 victory in 1970. Hobart came away with a 42-14 win in last year's clash, which saw the Statesmen bolt out to a 35-0 advantage at halftime. However, last week Merchant Marine cracked the win column for the first time against Maritime (NY), previously holding an 0-2 mark against the Privateers, and will look to again reverse recent trends with a win over the Statesmen.
Scouting the Statesmen... Hobart has continued to climb the national rankings every week in 2012 with its potent offense averaging 33 points and over 400 yards per game. Bobby Dougherty leads the rushing attack with 300 yards and five touchdowns on the season. The Statesmen defense is also responsible for 19 total sacks, including ten last time out versus Utica. However, that should be neutralized on Saturday with the Mariners operating in the option offense. Hobart has also made a habit of winning the time of possession battle early in 2012, controlling the ball an average of 35:30 over its first three games.
Around the Liberty League... The Liberty League posted 4-4 record last week with three teams posting an offensive explosion. RPI lead the way with 56 points in a shootout win over Castleton State while Springfield needed all of its touchdowns in a 49-42 victory over Mount Ida. This week's slate features all eight league members squaring off in conference openers. Other match-ups include: Rochester at Springfield, WPI at RPI, and Union at St. Lawrence.
Mariner Quick Hits
Ground and Pound… The Mariners option attack has produced huge gains in 2012 as USMMA has averaged 308 rushing yards per game. Merchant Marine chewed up 304 yards on the ground last week against the Privateers. USMMA currently ranks 7th in NCAA Division III in rushing offense. However, the Statesmen will provide the stiffest test yet for the Mariners as Hobart ranks eighth in the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 37 rushing yards per game.
Steady Stidham… Quarterback Luke Stidham (Baltimore, MD), who stepped in for injured starter Alex Coviello (Cape Coral, FL), did not miss a beat in the Mariners 19-14 victory over Maritime (NY). Stidham totaled 134 rushing yards and another 55 passing yards while scoring both USMMA touchdowns. He has averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2012 and his 9-of-17 for 144 yards through the air this season.
Spreading Around the TD's… Despite only Stidham crossing the goal line against Maritime (NY), USMMA has boasted a very balanced attack in 2012. For the season, seven different Mariners have combined for the teams 11 total trips to the end zone.
Don't Forget About the Pass… Despite operating in the option offense, Merchant Marine has struck for a big pass play in each of the first three games of the year. Last time out it was Richard Lyons (Virginia Beach, VA) who hauled in a 33-yard pass deep in Privateer territory. Earlier in 2012, Connor Kennedy (Bellerose, NY) brought in a 56-yard pass and Christopher Cook (Ventura, CA) recorded a 44-yard touchdown reception.
"Stone" Cold Defense... Freshman cornerback Skyler Stone (Glen Allen, VA) has accounted for both of the Mariners interceptions this season. He made a superb diving pick that halted what had been a promising looking drive for the Privateers at the end of the first half.
Up Next... The Mariners return home September 29 for Homecoming as USMMA squares-off with Rensselaer at 2:00 PM.