Merchant Marine Erases 21-Point Deficit to Defeat Susquehanna, 35-28

Matthew McDaniels accounted for four touchdowns Saturday vs. Susquehanna
Matthew McDaniels accounted for four touchdowns Saturday vs. Susquehanna

Kings Point, NY – Matthew McDaniels (Malverne, NY) made his first collegiate start at quarterback a memorable one, accounting for four touchdowns and over 300 yards of offense as the USMMA football team defeated Susquehanna, 35-28 Saturday afternoon at Brooks Stadium.  The Crusaders scored 21 unanswered points to start the game before the Mariners rallied back.   It was the big plays that made the difference as USMMA posted three 65+ yard scoring plays in the victory.

Susquehanna (0-1) cracked the scoreboard 4:29 into the first quarter as Tim Wade dove across the goal line from one-yard out.  Wade would strike again at the 6:44 mark with a five-yard score that made it 14-0, Crusaders.  The visitors quickly found the end zone a third-time as Josh Hunt scrambled in from five-yards out to make it a 21-0 affair with 2:08 to play in the opening stanza. 

Merchant Marine (1-0) went to the air for its first points of 2013, catching the Crusaders crashing the line of scrimmage against the typically option-based attack.  McDaniels hit Connor Kennedy (Bellerose, NY) with a pass up the seam that went for 77 yards and cut the deficit to 21-7.  USMMA took advantage of several key Susquehanna penalties on its next drive to set up a McDaniels nine-yard touchdown run.  McDaniels finished the game with 196 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to go along with 113 passing yards and one touchdown. 

The Crusaders answered right back, needing only 1:58 to push the lead back to two touchdowns.  Mark Rosenbaum found Denzell Walker for a 46-yard score, moving the scoreboard to 28-14 with 7:29 left in the half.  Rosenbaum finished with 216 yards and one touchdown while Taylor Kolmer added 72 passing yards of his own for the Crusaders.  Susquehanna would maintain a 28-14 advantage as the two teams headed into the locker room for halftime. 

USMMA moved the ball methodically with the opening drive of the second half, covering 72 yards on 15 plays and chewing up 8:29 on the clock.  The drive ended with a Colin Hinchey (Denton, TX) 10-yard touchdown run that made it a one possession game.  Susquehanna punter T.J. Morton pinned the Mariners at the 12-yard line to start its next possession after a Crusaders drive stalled out in USMMA territory.

McDaniels wasted no time as he sprung free around the left edge for an 88-yard touchdown rumble that ignited the over 2,000 fans at Brooks Stadium and tied the game at 28-28 with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.  USMMA was again marching the ball down the field with its first possession of the fourth quarter but a turnover deep in the Susquehanna end left the Mariners empty handed.

Merchant Marine got its final explosive play of the day at the 6:12 mark of the fourth quarter and it would again be McDaniels.  The sophomore quarterback sliced through the left side of the Crusaders defense for 66 yards and a score that put the home team on top, 35-28.

Susquehanna would use over five minutes on its final drive and earned a first-and-goal at the USMMA eight-yard line.  After two plays the Crusaders were staring at third-and-goal from the two-yard line and gave the ball to Wade.  Wade tried the middle of the defense but was cracked by Scott Cokeley (Ukiah, CA), at the one-yard line.  Cokeley finished the day with a game high 12 tackles for the Mariners.  The Crusaders decided to throw on fourth down and a pass to an open Casey Tosches, in the back of the end zone, deflected off his hands and fell to the ground, sealing the Mariners comeback victory, 35-28.

Zachary Boucher (Wyckoff, NJ) carried the ball 16 times for 84 yards while Kennedy also rushed for 57 yards on just five carries.  Merchant Marine finished the game with 491 yards of total offense, 378 rushing yards, and went 7-for-12 on third downs.

The next game on the USMMA football schedule is the most anticipated match-up of the year as the Mariners take-on arch rival Coast Guard at Brooks Stadium.