Setting the Scene... Merchant Marine welcomes defending Liberty League champion and 2012 NCAA Quarterfinalists #7 Hobart to Brooks Stadium Saturday afternoon during Homecoming Weekend. The Mariners are 3-0 for the first time since 1997 after a gritty 7-6 road victory at Maritime (NY). The Statesmen hold a 2-0 record this season, most recently downing Utica, 34-21. Saturday's clash marks the start of the Liberty League slate as both teams have wrapped up the non-conference portion of their schedule.
Series History... Hobart currently leads the all-time series against the Mariners, 9-4. The Statesmen knocked-off USMMA at Boswell Field, 42-21, in 2012 but the Mariners were within one possession at halftime. In that game, quarterback Luke Stidham rushed for 161 yards as the visitors racked up 231 yards on the ground. Merchant Marine has dropped nine straight games to Hobart since joining the Liberty League, last defeating the Statesmen back in 1970.
McDaniels Tops NCAA Statistics... Quarterback Matthew McDaniels (Malverne, NY) currently leads Division III in rushing yards, totaling 568 yards and six touchdowns in his first three career games under center. The sophomore has gained at least 125 yards in every game this season and is a two-time Liberty League Offensive Performer of the Week. McDaniels is averaging 6.76 yards per carry and has also thrown two touchdown passes in 2013.
Chasing "300"... The Merchant Marine football program currently sits at 299 victories, one shy of a milestone 300. USMMA's 50th, 100th, 150th, 200th, and 250th program wins have all come in the friendly confines of Brooks Stadium. In those games, only one opponent scored in double digits with the Mariners posting two shutouts in milestone victories. USMMA is 6-1 in their last seven games at home.
Defense stands tall... The Mariners defense allowed a touchdown to Maritime (NY) on the opening possession, but would pitch a shutout against the Privateers for the remainder of the game. USMMA has dominated the second half of games early in 2013, outscoring opponents 34-10 in the final thirty minutes. The Merchant Marine defense has not surrendered a fourth quarter touchdown this year. Opponents have only converted on third or fourth down 30% of the time against the Mariners in the second half.
Johnson Named Rookie of the Week... Rubyn Johnson (Jacksonville, FL) was tabbed as the Liberty League Rookie of the Week following the Mariners 7-6 victory over Maritime (NY). The rookie corner sealed the Mariners win with his first career interception with just 2:10 remaining in regulation. Johnson also added three tackles and a 26-yard punt return to his stat line.
Around The Liberty League... The Liberty League posted a 4-4 record last week as Merchant Marine, Hobart, Springfield, and RPI all earned a win. There are currently four undefeated teams remaining in the league with the Mariners, Engineers, and Pride all sitting at 3-0. Hobart was tabbed seventh in the latest NCAA Division III rankings with another Liberty League team, Springfield, receiving votes for the first time this season. This week will see all eight members in their conference openers as Springfield vs. Rochester, RPI vs. WPI, and St. Lawrence vs. Union complete the Week 4 docket.
Up Next... Next up, the Mariners take to the road for a 1:00 pm Liberty League contest against RPI. Merchant Marine will play back-to-back games away from Brooks Stadium before returning home on October 19th for a meeting with Springfield.