SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Senior Nick Connell scored on a 3-yard run with 11 seconds left as New England Football Conference (NEFC) Champion Western New England, the #1 team in New England, held off a late Coast Guard rally and beat and the Bears 36-29 in the regular season finale.
Western New England finishes the season 10-0 and 7-0 in the conference while Coast Guard closes out the season 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the NEFC.
Connell carried 30 times for 188 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Senior quarterback Derek Victory threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to junior Darius Adams with 4:32 left and then hit senior Kyle Jackson with the 2-point conversion to tie the game 29-29 after trailing 29-14 with 14:36 left in the game. It was the 50th and final career TD pass for Victory.
Victory was 24 of 48 for 366 yards with two touchdowns, but was intercepted five times. He broke the Coast Guard single-season passing yards record finishing with 2,636 yards breaking the previous mark of 2,514 yards set by Jon Resch in 2012. He leaves with 15 school or conference records. (see list below)
Adams set the single-season school record as he became the first Coast Guard player to have over 1,000 receiving yards in a season. He finished with 1,054 receiving yards breaking the record of 983 set by Collis Brown in 2013. Adams had five receptions for 105 yards in the game . He finished the season with a school record 13 touchdown receptions in his first year of football at any level.
"I thought the guys came to play. They would have easily said the season is over, but they worked hard all week. and we had our chances," said Coast Guard head coach Bill George. "We played hard, we hung in there, battled back to tie the game. We didn't just come to get the season over with, we came to beat one of the better teams in New England and we came close, but it isn't horse shoes, so we will build from this."
Coast Guard turned the ball over on its first two possessions and both times the Golden Bears capitalized as Terrence N'Dabian scored on a 7-yard run with 12:20 left in the first quarter before quarterback Anthony Service's 18-yard touchdown run with 9:04 left in the opening quarter gave Western New England a 13-0 lead following a missed extra point.
The Bears got on the board as freshman Liam Middleton caught his first career pass, a 21-yard TD pass from Derek Victory with 6:52 left in the first to cut the deficit to 13-7 after sophomore Cole Austin's extra point. A key play in the drive was a 21-yard run by sophomore Jeff Porter.
Kevin Patterson's 26-yard field goal on WNE's next possession pushed the lead to 16-7 with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
Coast Guard would then march 71 yards in eight plays with sophomore Jeff Porter scoring on a 2-yard run n the final play of the first quarter making the score 16-14. The key play on the drive was a 49-yard pass from Victory to sophomore Chip Crowley.
Dante Aiken's 14-yard touchdown run with 6:58 left in the half was the only scoring of the second quarter as WNE led 23-14 at the break.
The Golden Bears had 293 total yards in the first half, 149 rushing, 144 passing while Coast Guard had 180 yards in the first half, 122 of those in the air.
There was no scoring in the third quarter, but on the second play of the fourth quarter, Connell scored a 3-yard run with 14:36 left in the game making the score 29-14 as sophomore Michael Goldsworthy blocked the extra point. The touchdown was set up by an interception at the Coast Guard 29-yard line.
Coast Guard made it a one score game when Victory drove the Bears 90 yards in just six plays and scored on a 1-yard run to make the score 29-21 with 4:43 left. Victory had big pass plays to 36 yards to Bain and a 44-yard pass play to Crowley down to the 1-yard line on the drive.
Coast Guard recovered an onsides kick and on the next play Victory threw the 53-yard strike to Adams.
The Golden Bears marched 79 yards in 12 plays for the winning drive.
Service was 7 for 10 for 108 yards before leaving the game with 7:55 left in the first half. Drew Tarantino was 7 of 12 for 79 yards with an interception in relief for Western New England.
WNE finished with 551 yards, 364 rushing and 187 passing while the Bears had 439 total yards, 366 passing and 73 on the ground.
Crowley had six receptions for 111 yards while Bain added five catches for 86 yards for Coast Guard. Porter led the Bears with 14 carries for 67 yards.
Senior Fred McClimans had a career-high 15 tackles for Coast Guard while Goldsworthy had the Bears only interception in thegame.
The Coast Guard defense held WNE to just 1 of 12 on third downs.
DEREK VICTORY RECORDS
COAST GUARD ACADEMY RECORDS
Most Passing Yards in a Game: 525, vs. Curry (2016)
Most Passing Yards in a Career: 7,513
Most Passes Attempted in a Season, 409, 2014
Most Passes Attempted in a Career: 1,296
Most Passes Completed in a Game: 36, vs. WNE (2013)
Most Passes Completed in a Season: 220, 2014
Most Passes Completed in a Career: 721
Most TD Passes in Game: TIED with 6, vs Curry (2016)
Most TD Passes in a Career: 50
Most Yards in a Game: 547, vs. Curry (2016)
Most Yards in a Career: 7,762
Most Passing Yards in a Game: 525
Most Passing Yards in Game vs. Curry (Individual): 525
Most Passing Yards in Game vs. Curry (Team): 525