Kings Point, NY – In a game with over 800 yards of total offense the Rochester Yellowjackets used a potent offensive attack to defeat Merchant Marine, 44-26, Saturday afternoon at Brooks Stadium. Rochester was 10-of-13 on third downs and opened up a lead in the second quarter by scoring 20 unanswered points. Alex Coviello (Cape Coral, FL) led the USMMA offense, racking up 152 rushing yards and two touchdowns while also throwing for 84 yards and another score.
Rochester (3-2, 2-1 Liberty) started the game with a 12-play, 70-yard drive on the opening possession. However, the Mariners defense was able to limit the visitors to a 22-yard field off the foot of Alex Antonucci.
Merchant Marine (3-3, 1-2 Liberty) answered with a long drive of its own and faced a 4th-and-one in Rochester territory. Coviello took the snap up the middle, broke a tackle, and found daylight up the right sideline for a 30-yard touchdown run that put USMMA on top. After the extra point hit the right upright the Yellowjackets got the ball back facing a 6-3 deficit.
The visitors marched back down the field and responded with a touchdown of their own with 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Chris Lebano capped the drive with a four-yard score and after another missed extra point Rochester was front, 9-6. Lebano finished the game with 75 yards and two touchdowns on his 20 carries.
Rochester pushed USMMA backwards on the next drive and turned the field position, taking over on the Mariners 31 yard line after a short punt. Four plays later Quinton Mitchell dove into the end zone from one-yard out. The Yellowjackets' defense would create another short field, allowing quarterback Dean Kennedy to score on a nine-yard draw play to make it 23-6 for Rochester.
USMMA then orchestrated a 75-yard drive that featured a pair of Coviello runs that went for 20 yards or more. John-Leon Gosselin (Nashua, NH) put the finishing touches on the possession with a one-yard surge across the goal line. However, Rochester put up the final points of the half with 12 seconds on the clock. Garrett Kesel's three-yard TD run sent the teams into halftime with the Yellowjackets ahead, 30-13.
The Mariners pieced together a 16-play drive that chewed up 65-yards and 7:32 to start the third quarter. Coviello made it a two possession game at 30-20 with a one-yard touchdown. But Rochester again had the answer, engineering a long drive of its own. It took the Yellowjackets 14-plays and 6:27 before Lebano scored his second touchdown of the game to make it 37-20. The Mariner offense continued to move the ball but was forced to settle for a 22-yard field goal attempt. However, the kick sailed wide left.
Rochester's next drive would cover 80 yards as Kennedy found Derek Wager for an 11-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal with 4:25 remaining in regulation. The Mariners option attack was then forced to go to the air. Coviello showcased his arm and completed seven straight passes, including a seven-yard touchdown to Connor Kennedy (Bellerose, NY). USMMA would be unsuccessful on a two-point conversion, bringing the score line to 44-26.
The Yellowjackets were able to kill the rest of the clock and hand the Mariners their first loss at home in 2012. The two sides combined for 17 accepted penalties, which resulted in 132 total yards.
Merchant Marine takes to the road next weekend in a battle of option offenses as they square off with the newest member of the Liberty League, Springfield, Saturday at 2:00 PM.