DUDLEY, Mass. – Sophomore Chris Gardner's 18 yard touchdown run with 10:31 left in the game gave Coast Guard the lead for good as the Bears overcame a 10-point second half deficit and score the final 17 points of the game to beat Nichols 27-20 in a non-conference game.
Nichols took a 20-10 lead with 7:20 left in the third quarter before the Coast Guard defense dominated the rest of the game holding the Bison to just 24 yards and a pair of first downs the rest of the way.
Junior quarterback Ryan Jones carried 17 times for a career-high 108 yards and Gardner had 19 carries for 78 yards as Coast Guard rushed for 229 yards and had 301 yards of total offense. Jones was 4 of 13 for 72 yards with an interception in the air.
Coast Guard improves to 2-1 overall while Nichols drops to 1-2 on the season.
Nichols had 362 yards of total offense, 173 passing and 189 rushing.
The Bison would take a 7-0 when Michael Pina threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Eric Mooney with 6:30 left in the first quarter to cap a 12 play, 92 yard drive on its first possession.
The Bears would respond with an eight play, 53 yard touchdown drive capped on a 1-yard run by sophomore Chris Gardner with 2:28 left in the opening quarter. Senior Chip Crowley gave the Bears excellent field position with a 39 yard kickoff return and sophomore Jon Wagner had a 32 yard run during the scoring drive.
Senior Jake Behne would recover a Nichols fumble at the Coast Guard 34 yard line on the ensuing possession and senior Cole Austin would connect on a 36-yard field goal to with 10:40 left in the half as the Bears took a 10-7 lead. The big play in the drive was a 30-yard pass from Jones to junior Miguel Moroles.
Nichols regained the lead 14-10 with 8:40 left in the half on a 10 yard touchdown run by Jacob Duffrene to cap a 72 yard drive that took just two minutes.
Coast Guard was held to just four first downs and 116 total yards in the first half (32 passing and 84 rushing) while Nichols had 239 first half yards (123 rushing and 116 passing).
Jones was just 2 of 4 for 32 yards in the first half while Wagner had a 27-yard run on his only carry before leaving with an injury.
Duffrene's 29-yard touchdown run with 7:20 left in the third quarter opened the second half scoring, the extra point was missed and Nichols led 20-10.
The Coast Guard defense would then take the game getting stops on the final six possessions allowing just two first downs and 24 yards.
Following an exchange of punts, it took the Bears just two plays and 44 seconds to go 48 yards as Jones scored on a 17-yard run to pull to the Bears to within 20-17 with 4:03 left in the third quarter. Jones threw a 31-yard strike to junior Liam Middleton on the first play of the drive.
The Bears defense would force back-to-back three and outs and Gardner's 18-yard touchdown run with 10:31 left gave Coast Guard a 24-20 lead capping a 10 play, 62 yard drive. The key play was a 9-yard pass to Middleton on 3rd-and-4 to the Bison 23 to keep the drive alive.
The Coast Guard defense rose to the occasion once again with a three-and-out and Austin added a 38-yard field goal with 5:15 left as Coast Guard extended its leads to 27-20.
The Bears defense forced four straight three-and-outs and allowed just three yards on those 12 plays over those four possessions allowing the Bears to regain the lead.
The defense would force a fifth straight punt, but the Bears fumbled it away with 3:08 left giving the Bison life at their own 45 yard line. Nichols would turn it over on downs at the Bears 42 yard line with 1:31 left.
Coast Guard sophomore Justin Moffatt, who leads the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) with 20 receptions and 263 yards was held without a reception.
Behne led the Coast Guard defense with 12 tackles, seven solo in the win.
The Bears are back in action on Sept. 22nd when they host Norwich in the Battle for the Mug and the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener for both teams.