Kings Point, NY - The USMMA football team forced four turnovers but ultimately fell to Liberty League rival, 27-14, Saturday afternoon on Senior Day. The Mariners honored its 19 graduating seniors before kick-off, including Michael Biehn (The Woodlands, TX), who racked up a team high 14 tackles and forced two fumbles. Matthew McDaniels (Malverne, NY) rushed for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the loss.
Merchant Marine (4-3, 1-3 Liberty) grabbed the momentum on the opening kick-off as Tyler Washington (Chatham, NY) forced a fumble and Patrick Keyes (Parsippany, NY) recovered to give the Mariners prime field position. However, Daniel Kennedy (Youngstown, OH) missed a 35-yard field goal wide right to keep the game scoreless. The Dutchmen would tally the first points of the game as quarterback Nick Becker hit T.J. Franzese with a six-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0.
Union (3-6, 3-3 Liberty) saw the Mariners march down the field on the ensuing possession but maintained a touchdown advantage after another missed field goal from USMMA, this time from 25 yards out. The Dutchmen grabbed a 10-0 edge on a David Pope 28-yard field goal with 10:40 remaining in the second quarter. Just over four minutes later, Union scored 17 unanswered points with Becker hitting Andrew Baker for a 60-yard TD pass.
McDaniels provided a great individual effort to get Merchant Marine on the scoreboard with 3:56 left in the half. The sophomore quarterback appeared to be wrapped-up before breaking free up the right side for a 43-yard touchdown run. The Dutchmen would work their way deep into USMMA territory as the game headed towards the intermission. However, Skyler Stone (Glen Allen, VA) came up with an interception at the six-yard line to keep the score line at 17-7 heading into halftime.
Union quickly moved into scoring position early in the second half but another interception, this time by senior Patrick Clarke (Tampa, FL) at the 17 yard line, appeared to end the threat. However, after a USMMA false start an errant pitch was bobbled and wound up in the end zone where Jake Lebowitz dove on in it for a Union touchdown. McDaniels sparked the Mariners again with a 51-yard run late in the third quarter, eventually setting up his own 17-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to 24-14.
The Dutchmen padded their lead with 11:55 to play as Pope knocked through a 31-yard field goal. The Mariners would get three more possessions, including one following Union's fourth turnover, but was unable to threaten down the stretch. Becker took a knee after his 21-of-38 for 308 yards and two touchdown passing day to snap the Dutchmen's three-game losing streak while sending USMMA to its second straight defeat.
Daniel Thomas finished the day with 99 rushing yards on 26 carries for the visitors while Colin Hinchey (Denton, TX) posted 65 rushing yards for Merchant Marine. Joshua Callahan was Union's leading receiver with four grabs for 102 yards and Matthew Berglund (North Kingstown, RI) paced the Mariners with four catches for 32 yards.
The USMMA football team returns to action next Saturday to square-off with St. Lawrence in the annual battle for the Hoffman Cup.