KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 9, 2018) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy football team scored on each of its possessions in the first half en route to a 47-10 home NEWMAC victory over Catholic on Senior Day Saturday at Brooks Stadium. With the win, the Mariners improve to 5-3 overall (4-2 NEWMAC) and clinch a winning regular season, while the Cardinals fall to 1-8 (1-5 NEWMAC) in defeat.
Prior to kickoff, the USMMA football program paid tribute to its 17 graduating seniors with a special Senior Day ceremony honoring the Class of 2020 – Krystian Abbott (Lansing, Kan.), Tanner Carter (Columbiana, Ala.), Ryan Chrisom (Hanover, Mass.), John Coughlan (Massapequa Park, N.Y.), Reno Dubreuil (Moorpark, Calif.), James Early (Middletown, Md.), Gavin Gartner (Cedar Park, Texas), Robert Grzymkowski (Stafford, Va.), Patrick Hume (Windham, N.H.), Colin Ihlefeld (Fairfield, Conn.), Luke Jamison (Tequesta, Fla.), Johnny Lazear (Newark, Del.), Anthony Pravata (Bayside, N.Y.), Tyler Reihs (Moorpark, Calif.), Mitchell Trabb (Manalapan, N.J.), Joe Vitelli (Warrington, Pa.) and Kevin Weis (New Hyde Park, N.Y.).
The Mariners quickly built up a 13-0 lead on a rushing TD four plays into the opening drive by Early, followed by a three-and-out by the defense, and then a 24-yard haul by sophomore Brian McGovern (Cranford, N.J.) from Abbott at 7:11 of the first quarter that capped of an 11-play, 87-yard drive.
Catholic got on the board with a 36-yard field goal by sophomore Fabrizio Reilly which made it 13-3 at 4:26. On the next possession, Merchant Marine marched 77 yards on 11 plays and junior Matt Restifo (Hudson, Ohio) found the end zone on a nine-yard run as time expired and Gartner's second PAT of the day put the Mainers ahead, 20-3.
USMMA scored again quickly in the second quarter after the defense forced another three-and-out, as sophomore Alec Kiernan (Centereach, N.Y.) ran in the first of his two TDs on the day from three yards out. After the only turnover of the game – an interception by junior Noah Newburgh (Gilbert, Ariz.) just two plays later – the Mariners added to the lead with a 33-yard field goal by Gartner.
The Cards then had arguably their best drive of the half – 10 plays and 52 yards – but a 40-yard field goal attempt by Reilly missed wide left. On the Mariners' final drive of the half, Gartner extended the Merchant Marine lead to 33-3 with another 33-yard field goal with just 27 seconds left and the Mariners took that lead into halftime.
The Mariners added two more touchdowns in the second half – Kiernan's second of the day on a two-yard rush on their first drive of the third and then on a 62-yard run by sophomore quarterback Ian Blankenship (McRae, Ga.) late in the fourth. Catholic's lone TD of the game came as time expired in the third quarter, a 76-yard pass by freshman Evan O'Donnell to sophomore Dan Marcello.
The Mariner defense held the Cardinals to 290 yards of total offense (292 passing and negative-two rushing). USMMA had a total of four sacks that dropped the Cards back a combined 36 yards. Sophomore Ethan Brady (Palm Coast, Fla.) was in on 2.5 of those sacks. Dubreuil led the Mariners with seven tackles – one for a loss including a half-sack, while Carter and sophomore Joshua King (Haymarket, Va.) both had six tackles apiece. Carter also broke up two passes and King had two tackles for losses and a forced fumble.
Offensively, Abbott finished the day with 223 passing yards on 10-of-13 passing with one TD, his long of 57 yards came on the second play from scrimmage to Vitelli, who ended up with four catches for 143 yards. Blankenship led the ground game with 95 yards on six carries, while Restifo was second with 64 yards on seven carries. Early added 45 yards, sophomore Matt Strong (Pacific, Mo.) had 34 and Kiernan and sophomore Mark Thompson (McKinney, Texas) both finished with 28 yards each.
Gartner was 2-for-2 on FGs, both from 33 yards, and 5-for-6 on PATs, while sophomore punter Jack Ruark (Urbanna, Va.) averaged 30.0 yards on three punts with a long of 37 yards. Strong handled the return duties today and averaged 17.3 yards on three kickoff returns.
For Catholic, O'Donnell finished with 292 passing yards on 18-of-37 passing with one TD and an interception. Junior Trey Carson caught five passes for a team-best 88 receiving yards, while Marcello was second on the squad with 76 yards on the TD catch in the third. Defensively, junior Jake Ballard led all players in the game with 11 tackles, including one sack and two other Cardinals had nine stops each, sophomores Matthew DiSanto and Dieter Kerat.
Up next, the Mariners close out the regular season with the annual Secretaries' Cup game up at arch-rival Coast Guard next Saturday, Nov. 16, which will be produced and streamed live on the WatchESPN App. Kickoff has been confirmed for a noon start at the Bears' Cadet Memorial Field. More information on the game will be available next week on www.USMMASports.com.
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