NEW LONDON, Conn.-Junior wide receiver Collis Brown broke a pair of school receiving records and the Coast Guard football team completed a come-from-behind victory for a 41-38 New England Football Conference (NEFC) win over Western New England on Saturday at Cadet Memorial Field.
Freshman Derek Victory complete a school single-game record with 36 completions as Coast Guard (2-3, 2-0 NEFC) rallied from a seven-point deficit with just over three minutes to play to defeat Western New England (1-3, 1-1 NEFC) in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
Forced to punt with 1:28 to play the Bears seemed content to play for overtime, but the bounce of the ball had other plans. As freshman Isaiah Barrios was blocking Coast Guard sophomore Mark Behne downfield, the ball deflected of Barrios' leg and Behne alertly jumped on top of the ball, giving Coast Guard possession at the Western New England five yard line.
Sophomore place-kicker Tyler Henning drilled a 22-yard field goal with just 54 seconds to play to snap a tie and put the Bears in line for the victory. After pinning the Golden Bears at their own 28 with the ensuing kickoff, the Coast Guard defense made a final stand when it mattered most.
Western New England made it to the Coast Guard 13-yard line when senior quarterback John Krafick's pass to junior Andrew Walz was reeled in for a nine yard pickup with 16 seconds to play. Krafick would spike the ball to kill the clock with four seconds to play and give the Golden Bears a chance to tie the game with a field goal. Freshman place-kicker Kevin Patterson would attempt the 30-yarder from the right hash, but Western New England would see their hopes dashed when Patterson's attempt was hooked wide left to preserve the victory.
The winning sequence wouldn't have been possible without the record-breaking performance by Brown, who caught a school-record 16 passes for 244 yards (another single-game school record), including a pair of touchdown catches. Brown absolutely went off in the first half, recording 10 catches for 196 yards.
Coast Guard started the scoring early when Victory hooked up with Brown for a 35-yard touchdown on the opening drive, just 2:43 into the game. Victory was perfect on the opening possession, completing all six of his pass attempts, accounting for 74 yards in what would be the start of a very special day for the young quarterback.
The Bears' offense was firing on all cylinders as they raced out to a 24-7 lead just 12 minutes into the game and it looked like Western New England wasn't going to be able to stop them. However, turnovers took their toll on the Bears, and by halftime the Golden Bears were back in the game trailing just 24-21.
With about two minutes to play in the third quarter, the score 31-28 in favor of Coast Guard, and Western New England lined up to try a 27-yard field goal attempt, senior Evan Rothfeld broke through the line to block Patterson's kick and give the Bears some momentum.
Victory finished the game with 388 yards on 36-for-63 passing, but it was a play he made with his legs that set everything up for the Bears.
Trailing 38-31 and faced with a third and goal at the Western New England one yard line, Victory kept the ball on a speed option play and broke into the end zone and Henning's fifth extra point of the afternoon tied the game up.
Western New England used a high-powered rushing offense to get back in the game and give the Coast Guard defense fits. Led by junior Kevin Cook (35 carries, 153 yards, and four touchdowns), the Golden Bears were able to run for 305 yards against the Bears' defense. Cook scored a touchdown in every quarter for the Golden Bears who compiled 600 yards on offense for the afternoon.
Coast Guard finished the game with 462 yards of offense, all but 74 through the air as five receivers caught three or more passes. Brown's 16 led the way, while senior Nick Frederickson (7 receptions, 75 yards), junior Blake Thompson (5-23), and senior Alex Oswald (3-37) all factored heavily into the offense.
Junior Tony Buzzini and sophomores Cory Sonnega and Kyle Wood each recorded interceptions as the Coast Guard defense forced Western New England into five turnovers. The Bears had five turnovers themselves, with Victory accounting for four interceptions, including two by sophomore Kenny Strecker.
Sophomore linebacker led Western New England with 14 tackles in the game, while senior Brandon Ormsby and sophomores Steve Melino and Strecker each tallied seven apiece.
The game saw 190 plays run (97 for Coast Guard, 93 for Western New England) and a total of 1,062 yards gained on offense.
Coast Guard has now won back-to-back games for the first time since October 13 and 20 last year when they recorded road victories over Westfield State (31-27) and Worcester State (31-28, ot).
Coast Guard will return to action on Saturday, October 12th when they travel to Curry for a 1:00 pm kickoff before returning home the following week for an October 19th Homecoming match-up with Maine Maritime at 1:30 pm.
Head Coach Bill George