Fumble in Final Minutes Cost Bears

NEW LONDON, Conn.--(10/15/11)--Coast Guard leading 21-17 with 1:49 left and Westfield State out of timeouts fumbled the snap on its own three-yard line and senior quarterback Tyler Dow threw a three-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Jeff Winchell with 49 seconds left as Westfield State stunned the Parents' Weekend crowd and beat Coast Guard 24-21 in a New England Football Conference (NEFC) Bogan Division game.

The loss marked the third time this season that Coast Guard has lost a game in the final minute as the Bears dropped to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the NEFC Bogan Division.

Coast Guard had taken the lead, its first of the game, 21-17 on a 41-yard touchdown pass from senior Jarrod Owens to junior Eric Gerken with 4:41 left in third quarter. The Bears however were held to just one total yard of offense in five possessions after that touchdown.

The Coast Guard defense came up huge time-and-time again in the fourth quarter as Westfield State missed a 35-yard field goal on its first possession of the quarter. The Owls drove from their own 38 to the Coast Guard two-yard line where Dow was tackled at the one-yard line by junior Mark Bonner on 4th-and-goal with 10:04 left to give the Bears the ball.

The Westfield defense forced Coast Guard to a three-and-out and then took over on the Bears 28-yard line, but the Owls moved just four yards turning it back over on downs.

Once again, Coast Guard went three-and-out and the Owls moved from their own 40 to the Coast Guard 11-yard line when Bonner picked off Dow at the one-yard line with 1:58 left. It appeared Bonner's momentum took him into the endzone for a touchback, but the ball was spotted at the one-yard line setting up the fumbled snap and game winning touchdown for the Owls.

Coast Guard had taken a knee on first down forcing the Owls to use their final timeout before Owens fumbled the snap on second down and junior Justin Ehrhardt recovered.

Early on, it appeared as it was going to be a shootout as the first three possessions all ended in touchdowns. Westfield State (3-4, 2-2) scored first, a two-yard touchdown by freshman Michael Mercadante with 9:54 left in the opening quarter.

Coast Guard tied the game on a one-yard run by Owens with 7:15 left before Westfield regained the lead 14-7 on a 31-yard pass from Dow to sophomore Kevin Nicol with 1:34 left in the first quarter.

The only scoring in the second quarter was a 33-yard field goal by junior Kennan Startzell with 11:39 left in the half as the Owls led 17-7 at the half.

Westfield State had 283 yards of total offense in the first half, 186 passing while Coast Guard finished the half with 144 yards, 68 passing.

The Bears got right back in the game with a touchdown on their first possession of the second half capped on three-yard touchdown run by Owens making the score 17-14 with 12:08 left in the third quarter.

Westfield State finished with 472 yards of total offense, 307 passing. Dow was 20 of 40 for 307 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Mercadante led the Owls with 25 carries for 70 yards while sophomore Brian Beauchemin had 11 carries for 56 yards. Nicol led the Owls with seven receptions for 134 yards and the touchdown while junior tight end Jake Storey had five receptions for 89 yards.

Coast Guard, which has dropped three straight, finished with 287 total yards, 151 passing. Owens was 12 of 28 for 136 yards while junior Jon Resch was 2 for 5 for 14 yards. Sophomore Tyler Hames led the Bears on the ground with 14 carries for 78 yards while Owens had 13 carries for 50 yards. Junior Eric Gerken, the leading receiver in the NEFC, had six catches for 77 yards.

Junior linebacker Anthony Raneri led the Owls with eight tackles, seven solo and one tackle for loss while junior linebackers Parker Bateson (12 tackles) and Curt Barrett (11 tackles) each had double-digit tackles for Coast Guard.