GENEVA, N.Y. (Oct. 1, 2016) – The USMMA football team lost a heartbreaker at undefeated Liberty League foe Hobart on Saturday afternoon, 38-35, in a game that featured six lead changes in the second half – including four in the fourth quarter alone (and two in the final minute). The loss drops the Mariners to an even 2-2 (1-1 Liberty) on the season, while the Statesmen improve to 5-0 (2-0 Liberty) in victory.
The Statesmen scored the game-winning touchdown on a 57-yard pass play with just 19 seconds left in regulation. That play came on the drive after the Mariners had taken the lead with under a minute to go on junior Robert Moore's (Pace, Fla.) second rushing TD of the day and classmate Jake McDonough's (Wilmington, N.C.) PAT kick made the score 35-31 with just 54 seconds remaining.
Merchant Marine took an early 10-0 lead in the game in the first quarter as the Mariners scored on their first two drives of the game. McDonough nailed a 26-yard field goal for the game's opening points and sophomore Luke Tiefenthaler (Freehold, N.J.) ran in a six-yard TD to cap off a 12-play, 79-yard drive with just 2:10 remaining in the opening quarter.
Hobart rallied back to take the lead in the second quarter, however, on a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead TD with just two seconds remaining that gave the Statesmen the 14-10 lead, which they took into the locker room.
In the third quarter, the Mariners scored twice in a row on back-to-back drives just about two and half minutes apart thanks to a Hobart fumble deep in the Statesmen territory. After Moore's first touchdown run of the game at 8:50 put the Mariners back on top, 17-14, just two plays into Hobart's ensuing drive, junior Justin Sydlowski (Plymouth, Mich.) forced a fumble and senior Josh Woodburn (Huntingtown, Md.) jumped on it on the Statesmen 16-yard line. McDonough nailed another 26-yard FG to increase the Mariners' lead to 20-14.
Hobart responded with a touchdown on their very next drive, however, to steal the lead back, 21-20. The Mariners took over late in the third and scored a TD early in the fourth on a 22-yard run by sophomore Wiley Martin (Polo, Mo.) and a Tiefenthaler two-point rush gave USMMA a seven-point lead, 28-21.
The Statesmen responded with a field goal on their next drive that cut the Merchant Marine lead down to 28-24. After the Mariners were stalled on their next drive, the Statesmen grabbed the lead back on a touchdown with just 4:14 to play, before the two teams exchanged the leads again in the final minute.
The game was pretty evenly matched throughout as the Mariners had 457 yards of total offense to Hobart's 432. As expected, nearly all of the USMMA offense came on the ground (397 yards), while the Statesmen relied on their passing (416 yards).
Martin and Moore registered 113 and 112 rushing yards, respectively, and Tiefenthaler also broke 100 yards as he ended with 102. Moore was 6-for-10 passing for 60 yards and freshman Luke Jamison () snagged three catches for 44 yards.
Defensively, senior Patrick Keyes (Parsippany, N.J.) led the Mariners with eight tackles, while classmate Ian Stoner (Glen Allen, Va.) had seven stops, including two half-tackles for losses of combined six yards with a sack for a loss of five.
The Statesmen were led by junior QB Shane Sweeney, who threw for 416 yards on 32-for-51 passing with five touchdowns. Senior Jack Pfohl caught seven passes for 126 yards and two scores, including the game-winner, while junior Brandon Shed also had two TD receptions on 76 yards receiving. Senior Sean Cunningham caught Hobart's other touchdown, the six-yard connection that ended the scoring in the first half.
On defense for Hobart, senior Marcus Jemison led all players with 16 total tackles and four other Statesmen registered double-digit tackle days.
Up next, the Mariners travel up to Worcester, Mass., to take on Liberty League opponent WPI next Saturday, Oct. 8. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at the Engineers' Alumni Stadium. Live stats and a live video feed of the game will be available with links on the USMMA Football Schedule Page.
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Mariners Edged By Hobart, 38-35, In Back-And-Forth Affair