DUDLEY, Mass. – Jon Wagner scored on a 20 yard touchdown run and Pat Crowley added the extra point as Coast Guard held off Nichols 24-23 in overtime in a non-conference game. The Bears open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2005.
Nichols had taken a 23-17 lead in overtime when Michael Pina threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Dominic Coppola, but the extra point was missed.
Coast Guard wins at Nichols for the second straight season to improve to 2-0 while the Bison drop to 1-1 on the season. It was the Bears first overtime game since a 31-28 over Worcester State in 2012.
Ryan Jones was 11 of 25 for 211 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions while also running for 34 yards. Damaso Jaime led the Bears with four receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
Coast Guard finished with 302 yards while Nichols has 289 yards, 249 of those in the air. Pina was 29 of 43 for 249 yards with three touchdowns in the loss.
The Bears led 17-10 at the half and the third quarter saw six punts, three by each team. Nichols had 67 total yards in the quarter while the Bears had 37 third quarter yards.
Jones was intercepted on the first possession of the fourth quarter and Nichols took over at the Coast Guard 47, but once again the Bears forced a three-and-out.
Nichols would back up the Bears deep in their own end and force a punt from the end zone and take over at the Coast Guard 37 with 10:36 left and the Bison would take advantage as Pina threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Pierre-Charles with 8:36 left and the PAT tied the game 17-17. The Bison would convert on 4th and 4 from the 19 with a 10-yard pass to Tony Martignoli to keep the drive alive.
Both defenses were outstanding in the second half as there were 15 total possessions, 12 which ended in punts, a Coast Guard interception, a Nichols touchdown and Coast Guard taking a knee to end regulation.
Coast Guard forced a Nichols punt to open the game and then scored on its opening possession as Jones threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jaime with 10:12 left in the first quarter to cap a five play, 62 yard drive.
The Bison drew even on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Michael Pina to Hunter Ferreira on 4th and 10 with 4:34 left in the opening quarter. It was a 14 play, 79 yard drive with a pair of fourth down conversions.
Patrick Crowley's 32-yard field goal, his first of the season, gave the Bears a 10-7 lead with 14:34 left in the first half. The key play in the drive was a 56-yard pass from Jones to Jon Wagner down to the Nichols 15 on the final play of the first quarter.
Nichols got great field position on the Coast Guard 43, but the Bears defense held and the offense responded as Jones threw a short pass to Jaime, who scampered 53 yards for a touchdown giving the Bears a 17-7 lead with 5:21 left in the half.
Crowley would have a huge possible touchdown saving tackle on the ensuing kickoff and the Bears forced a three-and-out, but Jones was intercepted by Dylan Keho and returned 30 yards to the Coast Guard 22.
The defense would get another stop and Nichols settled for a 32-yard field goal by Alex Santiago with 1:03 left in the half making the score 17-10.
Coast Guard had 189 yards in the first half as Jones was 7 of 14 for 170 with two touchdowns and an interception. Jaime had three receptions for 80 yards and both touchdowns while Wagner had two catches for 76 yards.
Nichols had 130 yards in the first half, 95 of those passing.
The Bears open conference play next week at Norwich on Saturday at 2:00 in the battle for the Mug. Coast Guard is trying to open the season 3-0 for the first time since 1997.