KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Oct. 19, 2019) – The USMMA football team lost its home NEWMAC game to Springfield College, 45-34, on Saturday at Brooks Stadium. In defeat, the Mariners drop to 4-2 (3-1 NEWMAC) on the season, while the Pride improves to 4-3 (3-1 NEWMAC) with the victory.
Senior James Early (Middletown, Md.) had a big 39-yard rush to get into Springfield territory on the opening drive of the game for the Mariners and that drive ended with senior Gavin Gartner (Cedar Park, Texas) hitting a 37-yard field goal to open the scoring. The Pride responded with two-straight touchdowns to go up, 14-3, at 6:40 of the first, but the Mariners got one back on a 64-yard TD pass by senior Krystian Abbott (Lansing, Kan.) to wide open classmate Joe Vitelli (Warrington, Pa.) at 1:47, and Gartner's PAT made it 14-10.
Springfield began the second quarter with a 60-yard rushing touchdown to go back up by 11, but Early capped off a nine-play, 66-yard drive with a one-yard TD run and Gartner's PAT brought the Mariners back to within four, 21-17, at 11:32.
The Mariners were in search of a go-ahead score with just under five minutes to go in the second, but they were stopped at the Pride one yard-line on a fourth down play. On Springfield's ensuing drive, they marched 99 yards – helped by a big 30-yard passing play on third down – and scored the final TD of the half with 57 seconds left.
Merchant Marine looked to have a big play set up very late in the half, but the Pride forced a fumble deep in their territory after a big catch and run, and the visitors took over with 18 seconds left and kneeled on the ball to take a 28-17 lead into the halftime break.
The Pride opened the second half with a 78-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it 35-17. USMMA responded with a 10-play, 78-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard TD run by senior Tyler Reihs (Moorpark, Calif.) to make it 35-24. However, Springfield needed just two plays to go back ahead by 18, as they scored on a 67-yard TD run at 10:10 of the third that made it 42-24. Gartner tacked on three more for the hosts with a 24-yard field goal at 2:12 and the Mariners trailed by 15, 42-27, at the end of the third.
Abbott connected with sophomore Matt Restifo (Hudson, Ohio) on an eight-yard TD pass at 8:43 of the fourth to make it a one-possession game, 42-34, at 8:43. The Mariner defense then forced a three-and-out on Springfield's ensuing drive, but the next Merchant Marine possession ended on an interception on the Mariner side of the field. The Pride increased their advantage back to 11 with a 32-yard field goal that helped secure the win.
For the Mariners, Abbott finished the day 18-for-31 passing for 374 yards with two TDs. Early amassed a team-best 80 yards on the ground with one score, while sophomore Alec Kiernan (Centereach, N.Y.) added 37 and Abbott rushed for 32. Vitelli caught 11 passes for 193 yards and one score, and junior James Hutchinson (Topsfield, Mass.) hauled in three for 100 yards.
On defense, senior Reno Dubreuil (Moorpark, Calif.) led all players in the game with 14 tackles including a half-sack for a loss of three yards. Classmate Tanner Carter (Columbiana, Ala.) made 12 stops with one for a loss of three, while three other Mariners all made six tackles apiece – sophomore Tyler Sloman (Poulsbo, Wash.), freshman Colton Ray (Bellevue, Ohio) and senior Robert Grzymkowski (Stafford, Va.). Sloman had a sack for a loss of three and one other player dropped the Springfield quarterback back, as senior Greg Royal (Evergreen, Colo.) recorded a half-sack and also forced a Pride fumble in the third quarter.
In addition to the two field goals, Gartner made all four of his PAT attempts, and sophomore punter Jack Ruark (Urbanna, Va.) averaged 30.3 yards on four punts.
Springfield was led by junior Tim Callahan, who rushed for a game-high 161 yards and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Chad Shade amassed 77 yards on the ground with a score, and junior Nick Rajotte also found his way into the end zone, as he finished the day with 37 yards. Shade was also 3-of-5 passing for 97 yards with a long of 55 yards to senior Andrew Smith that helped set up the Pride's first TD of the day. Smith finished with two catches for 67 yards.
Junior AJ Smith led the Springfield defense with 13 tackles. Three other players had six stops apiece – classmates Kyle Niehr, Ryan Deguire and sophomore D'Aunte Moore. Niehr recovered the fumble late in the first half that was forced by sophomore Damien Rabis, and freshman DJ Brown had the Springfield interception in the fourth quarter.
Freshman kicker Christian Hutra made one field goal and converted all six of his PAT kicks. Sophomore punter Patrick Tuohy averaged 36.3 yards on six punts, and senior kickoff returner Kejuan Farquharson had the 78-yard return for a touchdown to open the second half.
Up next, the Mariners are on the road at first-place WPI next Saturday, Oct. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the Engineers' Alumni Field. Live links to follow along will be available on the USMMA Football Schedule Page.
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