Sound Bite: McDonough's Game-Winner
KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Oct. 15, 2016) – For the second straight week, junior Jake McDonough (Wilmington, N.C.) won a game for the USMMA football team with a very late field goal, as he nailed a 27-yarder as time expired to lift the Mariners to a big 16-13 victory over RPI at home on Saturday at Brooks Stadium.
The win improves the Mariners' record to 4-2 (3-1 Liberty), while the Engineers fall to 4-3 (2-2 Liberty) in defeat.
The game seemed to be heading for overtime, as Merchant Marine was forced to punt late in the fourth with the score tied, 13-13, but the return was fumbled deep in RPI territory by sophomore Conor Davies. Junior Isaac Lee (Grapevine, Texas) was credited with the forced fumble, and classmate Justin Sydlowski (Plymouth, Mich.) jumped on the loose ball to set the Mariners up with possession at the Engineer 14-yard line with just 17 seconds left on the clock.
After a three-yard rush by sophomore Wiley Martin (Polo, Mo.), USMMA called timeout with just two seconds left. RPI then used their two remaining timeouts to try and ice McDonough, but the junior converted his third field goal of the day to win the game.
The entire game went by in a blink of an eye prior to the final sequence. The first half alone took just over an hour to complete and the score was tied at 3-3 after 30 minutes of play.
The Engineers were unable to take advantage of two first-quarter turnovers by the Mariners, as the Merchant Marine defense came up big with a huge fourth-down stop deep at the USMMA three-yard line to end the first threat and then again forced RPI to turn the ball over on downs later in the quarter to thwart any momentum for the visitors.
A 30-yard field goal early in the second quarter by junior Christian Kapp gave the Engineers a 3-0 lead. McDonough responded with a field goal to end the half and send the teams into the locker rooms tied.
The Mariners began with possession to start the third quarter, but fumbled the ball away deep in their territory just two plays in. Two plays after that, RPI's freshman QB Tommy Avery connected with junior Johnny Ramsdell for an 11-yard TD pass to give the Engineers a 10-3 lead.
USMMA fumbled once again on their next drive, but got the ball back on an RPI fumble just two plays later. McDonough nailed his second FG of the game, a 32-yarder, at 6:47 of the third to pull the Mariners back to within four, 10-6.
After the Merchant Marine defense forced a quick three-and-out, the Mariners got the ball back and marched 71 yards up-field on 14 plays, but McDonough's field goal attempt late in the third went just wide left of the upright.
Again, USMMA forced the Engineer offense into a three-and-out, and on the ensuing drive, Martin capped off a 17-play, 63-yard drive with a two yard touchdown run at 8:36 of the fourth to give the Mariners their first lead of the day, 13-10, after McDonough's PAT.
The Engineers responded on the very next drive, however, as Kapp nailed a 30-yard field goal to tie the game at 13-13 with just 4:23 to go.
That's the point when the game started to slow down, when both teams were trying to find the winning score as time ran down. RPI intercepted a pass in their territory with just 1:51 to go in the quarter, but again the Engineer offense was stifled by the Mariners D and were forced to punt. After the Mariners went three-and-out with under 30 seconds left is when junior Erik Swayne's (Great Falls, Va.) punt to the RPI five-yard line was returned five yards by Davies, who was tackled hard by Lee, forcing the ball to come out and setting up the winning score.
Junior Brice Moore (Pace, Fla.) led the Mariner offense with 88 rushing yards, while also going 8-for-14 for 68 passing yards. Senior Spencer Blauw (Strasburg, Colo.) had 29 yards on the ground, and Martin finished with 64 yards and the TD.
Defensively, senior Channing Meyer (Norman, Okla.) registered a team-high nine tackles, while sophomore Brooks Cannell (Ambler, Pa.) made eight stops. Senior Alex Shiber (Bloomsburg, Pa.) recorded seven tackles, including a sack for a loss of four yards and five other Mariners had five tackles in the game.
For RPI, sophomore Nick Cella gained 56 yards on the ground and classmate Rob Law had 43 rushing yards. Avery was 9-for-13 passing for 46 yards and sophomore Keaton Ackermann was his top target with three catches for 15 yards.
Senior Alexander Greenidge led all players in the game with 17 tackles for the Engineers, as he was one of four players for RPI with double-digit tackles.
The Mariners return to the gridiron next Saturday, Oct. 22, when they play host to the first place Saints of St. Lawrence University in a Liberty League Showdown and the annual Hoffman Cup Game. Action is slated to get underway at 12-noon at Brooks Stadium. Live stats and a live video feed of the game, with play-by-play man Jaden Daly on the call, will be available with links on the USMMA Football Schedule Page.
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Mariners Edge RPI, 16-13, On McDonough’s Game-Winning Field Goal