GAME #10 FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Bears Host Secretaries' Cup Game on Saturday

GAME #10 FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Bears Host Secretaries' Cup Game on Saturday

MERCHANT MARINE (4-4, 3-3) AT COAST GUARD (3-6, 1-5)

The game will be streamed live on ESPN3. To watch ESPN3 -- CLICK HERE

THE SERIES: Merchant Marine leads 31-14. The Mariners have won seven of the last nine meetings.

LAST YEAR: Junior quarterback Robert Moore ran for 203 yards while sophomore running back Wiley Martin ran for 101 yards and pair of touchdowns leading Merchant Marine to a come-from-behind 31-27 win over Coast Guard in the annual battle for the Secretaries' Cup.

Coast Guard led 21-14 at half behind three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Derek Victory, but Merchant Marine held the Bears to just one first down and 29 total yards in the second half.

Merchant Marine had 460 yards of total offense, 411 of those on the ground in the season-opening win. The Mariners, who did not attempt a pass in the second half, ran for 274 yards in the second half and kept the Bears offense off the field as they dominated the time of possession 23:36 to 6:34 in the second half.

Coast Guard finished with 299 total yards. Victory was 21 of 36 for 229 yards with three touchdowns. He was 15 of 23 for 204 yards in the first half. He threw a 12-yard pass to junior Cody Bain on the Bears first offensive play of the second half, but that would be Coast Guard's last first down of the game.

LAST WEEK: Sophomore Sean McAllen rushed for 152 yards and a three touchdowns and WPI scored 30 straight second half points as the Engineers beat Coast Guard 44-16.

WPI led 14-10 at halftime and took control outscoring the Bears 16-0 in the third quarter racking up 194 third quarter yards while holding Coast Guard to negative 19 yards in the third quarter as WPI which ran 27 plays in the first half, had 25 plays in the third.

The Engineers finished with 416 yards of total offense, 200 on the ground while the Bears had 202 yards of total offense, 143 of those passing. WPI outgained the Bears 279-71 in the second half.

Coast Guard sophomore quarterback Ryan Jones was 10 for 17 for 100 yards. Freshman Justin Moffatt had three receptions for 66 yards to lead the Coast Guard receivers. Senior Cam Cecchini led the Bears with 13 carries for 70 yards on the ground. Sophomore Patrick Crowley led the Bears defense with nine tackles, all solo.

Merchant Marine tied a school record with 62 points and had 707 yards of total offense, 592 of those on the ground in a 62-27 win over Catholic.

All nine touchdowns on the day came on the ground, as senior quarterback Brice Moore rushed for a team-high 104 yards and found the end zone twice. Moore was also 2-for-3 in passing with 115 yards. Junior Luke Tiefenthaler ended the day with 90 rushing yards and a game-high three TDs.

THE RIVALRY: For the first time since 2005 the Coast Guard Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy will meet for the Secretaries' Cup on the final game of the season. The two schools met in the final game of the regular season from 1991-2005 until Coast Guard joined the New England Football Conference, a two division conference which needed the last week of the season for a championship game, thus the game was moved to September. The game has similar pageantry as the Army-Navy game.

Coast Guard and Merchant Marine first squared off for the "The Secretary of Transportation Cup" or Secretary's Cup in 1981. While the Bears and Mariners rivalry has always been a natural one, it was enhanced when the Maritime Administration was switched from the Department of Commerce to join Coast Guard in the Department of Transportation, however , the name of the contest was pluralized to Secretaries' Cup when the U.S. Coast Guard moved to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

This will be the 46th meeting between the two schools with Merchant Marine holding a 31-14 edge. The Secretaries' Cup was established in 1981 and the Mariners hold a 24-12 lead in the battle for the Cup. Merchant Marine has won seven of the last 10 meetings. After the Academies' first matchup in 1949, the two teams played again in 1965 and 1966 before resuming the matchup in 1974 and continuing until 1979. After not matching up in 1980, the teams have met every year since.

The Bears and Mariners were conference rivals in the Freedom Football Conference from 1992-2003 before Coast Guard left to join the Liberty League. This season the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) sponsored football for the first time. Coast Guard is a full conference member while Merchant Marine are associate members of the league for football, so the team's will meet in a conference game this year for the first time since 2003.

COACH GEORGE IS BEARS WINS LEADER: Coast Guard head coach Bill George, in his 19th season, has a record 63 career wins as head coach at the Academy as he passed John Merriman for the most in program history in the win over Maine Maritime on Oct. 19th, 2013.

Merriman was the coach from (1930-1945) and the Gymnasium is named is his honor. In 2012, George passed NFL Hall of Famer and former Director of Athletics and head football coach Otto Graham, who had 43 wins in his two stints as head coach (1959-'65 and 1974-'75). Coach George led the Bears to a pair of NEFC Bogan Division championships in 2006 and 2007.

ESPN COMES TO NEW LONDON : Coast Guard hosts Merchant Marine in the final game of the season as the team's battle for the Secretaries' Cup on Nov. 11th. The game will be will be streamed live from Cadet Memorial Field on ESPN3, beginning at noon.

Here is what the 2017 Coast Guard football captains have to say about the opportunity to play on ESPN3 this week.

"We are ecstatic about opportunity ESPN has given us; we look forward to representing our nations' finest service academy in a classic rivalry against Merchant Marine. If you're watching Coast Guard football you aren't going to find any flashing lights or glamour. It's never been that way.  It never will.  What you will find is selflessness and college football in its purest form. There are no aspirations of playing at a higher level, only aspirations to one day be worthy of a commission as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, in the service of our country and humanity. In today's society, we are especially conscious of the sacrifices veterans and their families make. We are honored to be part of this nationwide celebration of America's heroes."

"I think this game will be a great opportunity for the team as well as for the Academy as a whole. It is a good way to get exposure on a popular network and educate people about the other two service Academies that can sometimes be forgotten.  I admire ESPN's commitment to honoring the members of the Armed Forces and I think the program is blessed to be able to play a long standing rivalry game on Veteran's Day weekend. I am personally excited for one of my last games of football here at the Academy to be as important and beneficial to the football program as this opportunity presents. Nonetheless, it will be a unique experience that I won't forget."

A LOOK BACK AT THE 1997 NCAA PLAYOFF TEAM: It has been 20 years since the 1997 football team made the program's second straight NCAA Playoff appearance. That team coached by Chuck Mills won the Freedom Football Conference (FFC) with a perfect 6-0 record and finished the regular season 9-1, the third best regular season football record recorded at the Academy. The Bears lost to Rowan 43-0 in the NCAA playoffs to finish 9-2. The nine wins is tied with the 1988 team for the most wins in a season.

Each week this season, we will take a look back at how that team did.

In the final week of the season, Coast Guard beat Merchant Marine 34-16 to secure the Freedom Football Conference (FFC) Championship and win the Secretaries' Cup for the third straight year.

Dan Warren threw three touchdown passes and Jamie Amon rushed for two more in the win.

The Bears finished as the #1 team in New England and earned the #4 seed in the East Region of the NCAA playoffs.

SCOUTING COAST GUARD: The Bears look to win the Secretaries' Cup for the first time since 2014 when they beat the Mariners 42-31 in New London.

Sophomore Ryan Jones makes his sixth career start. He is 67 of 138 for 653 yards with three touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Senior Cam Cecchini leads the Bears with 121 carries, 449 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. He also leads Coast Guard with 31 receptions (182 yards).

Senior Cody Bain is second on the team with 26 receptions for 262 yards while freshman Justin Moffatt has 25 receptions for a team-high 328yards and a team-high three touchdowns. Sophomore tight end Liam Middleton has 23 receptions for 240 yards.

Coast Guard is averaging 16.3 points and 269.4 yards of total offense per game, 183.6 in the air and 85.9 on the ground.

The Bears are allowing 23.3 points per game. Coast Guard is allowing 339.7 yards per game, 152.1 passing and 187.6 rushing.

Junior linebacker Jake Behne leads the team with 64 tackles and has four for loss. Sophomore cornerback Patrick Crowley is second with 62 tackles and leads the team with 47 solo and two interceptions. Junior defensive tackle Tommy Jones (38 tackles) leads the way with 7.5 tackles for loss.

Junior punter Chip Crowley is having a great season as he is averaging 39.8 yards per punt this season, second best in the NEWMAC, with 13 punts inside the 20 and eight of those over 50 yards with a long of 68 yards.

Junior placekicker Cole Austin has been outstanding making 7 of 8 on field goal attempts and 16-of-18 PAT's this season.

SCOUTING MERCHANT MARINE: The Mariners snapped a two-game losing streak with their win over Catholic on Saturday.

Senior quarterback Brice Moore leads the Mariners triple-option attack. He has 175 carries for 791 yards and 10 touchdowns and is 53 of 129 for 912 yards with three touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Junior fullback Joe Bellomo is second on the team with 95 carries for 401 yards and five touchdowns.

Freshman wide receiver Joe Vitelli leads the Mariners with 31 receptions for 670 yards and three touchdowns.

The Mariners are averaging 35.5 points and 462.8 yards per game, 348.8 rushing and 114 passing.

Junior safety Brooks Cannell leads the team with 50 tackles, 34 solo while junior defensive lineman Jake Wallace (29 tackles) has a team-high seven tackles for loss and is tied for the team lead with four sacks.

Senior Erik Swayne is averaging 40.7 yards per punt with 12 inside the 20 and he is 3 of 4 on field goals. Senior Jake McDonough handles the PAT's and is 38 of 39 on the season.

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