NEW LONDON, Conn.—Freshman quarterback Derek Victory making his first collegiate start threw for 261 yards and pair of touchdowns while sophomore strong safety Joe Rizzardi intercepted a pair of pass and returned them both for touchdowns leading Coast Guard to its first win of the season, a 37-20 win over Nichols, in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) opener for both teams on Parents' Weekend.
Rizzardi had both of Coast Guard's first half touchdowns as the Bears (1-3, 1-0) led 20-13 at halftime before Victory threw a pair of third quarter touchdowns to junior Collis Brown (5 catches, 53 yards, 2 TD) in the third quarter as the Bears opened up a 34-13 lead.
Nichols (1-2, 0-1) got off to a quick start as freshman running back Grant Klimek (10 carries, 102 yards) rambled 67 yards on the first play from scrimmage and junior running back Felipe Njeim scored from four yards out on the next play for a quick 6-0 lead just 53 seconds into the game. The extra point was blocked.
Sophomore Tyler Henning booted a 33-yard field goal to get Coast Guard on the board on its first possession to cut the deficit to 6-3 with 11:49 left in the first quarter.
Rizzardi got the first of his two interception returns for touchdowns on the next possession, a 28-yard return as Coast Guard took a 10-6 lead with 10:12 left in the opening quarter.
Njeim capped an 18 play 95-yard drive that took 8:14 off the clock with a 1-yard run as the Bison took a 13-10 lead with 7:11 left in the first half.
Coast Guard tied the game 13-13 on a 26-yard field goal by Henning with 1:46 left in half.
Rizzardi struck again on the next play from scrimmage returning an interception 30 yards for a score to close the scoring in the first half as the Bears led 20-13 with 1:28 left in the first half.
Nichols had 187 yards of total offense in the first half, 160 rushing while the Bears were held to just 117 yards in the opening half, 112 of those in the air.
Coast Guard took the second half kickoff and went 83 yards in seven plays with Victory (23 of 38, 261, 2 TD, 1 INT) throwing not only his first collegiate touchdown pass, but Coast Guard's first touchdown pass of the season, a 17-yard strike to Brown for a 27-13 lead with 11:42 left in the third quarter. It was also the Bears first offensive touchdown of the game.
The Bears added to their lead following a bad snap on a punt, Victory again found Brown and once again for 17 yards for a 34-13 lead wtih 1:49 left in the third quarter.
Henning kicked his third field goal of the game this time from 32 yards with 4:12 left as Coast Guard scored its 27th straight point to increase its lead to 37-13 with 4:12 left in the game.
Nichols sophomore quarterback Quillian Respass (12 of 26, 150 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT) threw a 26-yard touchdown to senior Dylan Rimsky (5 catches, 49 yards) with 1:41 left to close the scoring.
Nichols finished with 375 total yards, 225 rushing while the Bears had 334 yards of total offense, 261 passing.
Junior Jake Wawrzyniak led Coast Guard with 15 carries for 80 yards while senior Nick Fredericksen had five receptions for a team-high 55 yards in the win.
Respass led the Bison on the ground with 23 carries for 98 yards while Njeim carried 20 times for 57 yards in the loss.
Sophomore linebacker Kyle Wood led the Coast Guard defense with 15 tackles, 10 solo while sophomore James Rizzo added an interception for the Bears, who had five takeaways in the win.
Coast Guard turned the ball over twice.
The Bears are back in action on Saturday when they host Western New England at 1:30 in a New England Football Conference (NEFC) Game as the Bears will host Celebrate New London Day.
POST GAME COMMENTS FROM HEAD COACH BILL GEORGE