KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 7, 2015) – On Saturday, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy football team hosted Liberty League foe Union College at Brooks Stadium for the final home contest of the 2015 season. Prior to kickoff, the program paid tribute to its 13 graduating seniors with a special Senior Day ceremony.
The Mariners came out on top 24-14 on the gridiron, thanks to three rushing touchdowns – two by senior Matt McDaniels (Malverne, N.Y.) and one by freshman Wiley Martin (Polo, Mo.) – and a 36-yard field goal by sophomore Jake McDonough (Wilmington, N.C.).
McDaniels found the end zone on a 10-yard run to cap off the Mariners' first drive of the afternoon at 11:15 of the first. The Mariner defense was strong in the opening quarter, forcing the Dutchmen to go three-and-out on their first two drives and only allowing one first down on the visitors' third drive of the game.
After Union punted the ball away late in the quarter to end that drive, senior Zachary Boucher (Wyckoff, N.J.) had two rushes for a combined five yards to move the ball to the 50-yard line as time ran out in the first. On the first play of the second quarter, McDaniels scurried up the middle, broke a tackle and was in the clear for a 50-yard TD. McDonough's second PAT of the day made it 14-0 in favor of USMMA.
The Dutchmen mustered negative yards on their next drive and were forced to punt the ball away yet again. On the ensuing drive, the Mariners got the ball up to the Union nine-yard line and thought they scored on a nine-yard run by McDaniels, but a penalty brought them back to the 24-yard line. After gaining just five more yards over the next three plays, McDonough was called on to convert the 36-yard FG and put it through the uprights to put Merchant Marine ahead 17-0.
Later in the quarter, the Dutchmen got on the board two plays after a 56-yard pass by sophomore Dante Cioffi to senior Reynolds that brought the ball down to the Mariners' seven-yard line. Cioffi hooked up with junior tight end Jake Fass at 5:36 to put the visitors on the board and senior David Pope nailed the PAT to make the score 17-7.
USMMA responded on the ensuing drive, as Martin ran in a two-yard TD at 1:07 to cap off an eight-play 77-yard drive and put the Mariners ahead 24-7, where it would remain into the halftime break.
The Mariners failed to put up points in the second half of play, but held Union to just a six-yard TD pass by Cioffi to senior A.J. Baker early in the fourth quarter, as they held on for their second Liberty victory of the season.
The Merchant Marine offense put up 337 yards, all via the run. McDaniels totaled 180 yards on the ground, while Boucher ran for 76 yards and Martin compiled 51.
Defensively, the Mariners held the Dutchmen to 244 yards (196 passing and 48 rushing). Junior Marcus Kitchin (Austin, Texas) and senior Patrick Whalen (Norwalk, Conn.) both recorded a team-high six tackles each and twice combined for sacks totaling in combined losses of 17 yards. Senior Skyler Stone (Glen Allen, Va.) and Chris Kilroy (San Diego, Calif.) both had five tackles apiece. The Mariners also had three interceptions on the day by freshman Brooks Cannell (Ambler, Pa.) and juniors Patrick Keyes (Parsippany, N.J.) and Channing Meyer (Norman, Okla.).
For Union, Cioffi ended the day 16-for-31 for 196 yards, two TDs and three interceptions. Reynolds was the top receiver with 129 yards, while Kinzelmann netted 68 yards to lead the Dutchmen ground game.
The Mariners will close out the 2015 season next Saturday, Nov. 14, on the road with the annual Hoffman Cup rivalry game against St. Lawrence. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Saints' Leckonby Stadium.