Setting the Scene... Merchant Marine travels to Troy, NY this weekend to make-up a game originally scheduled for October 5 against RPI. The Mariners returned to action for the first time in four weeks last Saturday and came away with a 26-14 victory over WPI. USMMA earned the 300th victory in program history against the Engineers and is now 2-0 on the road in 2013. RPI will be looking to snap a four-game skid and is most recently coming off of a 35-13 loss to nationally ranked Hobart.
Series History... Merchant Marine currently leads the all-time series against RPI, 12-9, including last year's 34-31 over the Engineers. All of the last five meetings between the two sides have been decided by one possession or less with the Mariners holding a 3-2 record in those games. In the game's 2012 edition, USMMA jumped out to a 21-6 advantage and would finish the afternoon with 352 rushing yards and five touchdowns. The Engineers last earned a victory over the Mariners in the 2010 season finale with a tight 29-27 triumph.
McDaniels in NCAA Statistics... Quarterback Matthew McDaniels (Malverne, NY) remains fifth in NCAA Division III in rushing yards per game, totaling 770 yards and eight touchdowns in his first five career games under center. The sophomore has reached the end zone at least once in every game this season and is a three-time Liberty League Offensive Performer of the Week. He claimed that award for the third time following last week's 138 rushing yard performance as he scored one touchdown both on the ground and through the air.
Big Time Stops... The USMMA defense came up with two huge plays on fourth-and-one in the fourth quarter to secure the Mariners victory over WPI. The Engineers had cut the Mariners lead to 20-14 and had the ball deep in Merchant Marine territory. Freshman Patrick Keyes (Parsippany, NJ) made a solo tackle at the line of scrimmage to end the threat and turn the ball over on downs. Scott Cokeley (Ukiah, CA) made the Mariners' second stop on fourth-and-one on the Engineers final drive of the game.
Nationally Ranked Rushing Attack... Merchant Marine's triple-option offense has the program perennially among the nation's leaders in rushing yards. In 2013, the Mariners currently ranked 11th in NCAA Division III in rushing yards per game. Zachary Boucher (Wyckoff, NJ) is the team's second leading rusher with 58.5 yards per game and two touchdowns on the year.
Scouting the Engineers... RPI has used a running attack by committee in 2013 with five players scoring at least one touchdown. Andrew Armato leads the group in total yards with 368 on 4.4 yards per carry this season. Jeff Avery and Jessie Maynard have split time at the quarterback position with similar numbers across the board. However, the RPI quarterbacks have completed only 43.4 percent of its passes in 2013. The Engineers have a weapon in kicker Andrew Franks, who is 8-of-10 in field goal attempts this season, including 5-of-7 from outside of 40 yards. Brandon Cook is the team's leader on defense with 54 total tackles while Ted Abriel has posted 50 tackles along with four sacks.
Around The Liberty League... Last week featured a full slate of Liberty League games as Hobart, Rochester, Springfield, and Merchant Marine all earned victories. St. Lawrence was handed its first league loss of the season in a 21-20 decision at Springfield. Hobart remains the only undefeated team both overall and in league play as the Statesmen are driving towards a third straight Liberty League Crown. This week's slate of games also includes: Hobart vs. Union and WPI vs. St. Lawrence with Rochester and WPI on a bye week.
Up Next... The Mariners will have their first home since September 28 as they welcome Union (NY) to Brooks Stadium for a 12:00 pm kick-off.