GAME #10 FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Secretaries' Cup Up For Grabs in Coach George Finale

GAME #10 FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Secretaries' Cup Up For Grabs in Coach George Finale
MERCHANT MARINE (5-3, 4-2) AT COAST GUARD (5-4, 2-4)
NOV. 16TH -- NOON -- NEW LONDON, CONN.
** SECRETARIES' CUP **
 
ON THE AIR: The game will air live on ESPN3
 
THE SERIES: Merchant Marine leads 32-15
 
THE RIVALRY: The teams meet at the end of the season for the third straight 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 48th meeting between the two schools with Merchant Marine holding a 32-15 edge. The Secretaries' Cup was established in 1981 and the Mariners hold a 25-13 lead in the battle for the Cup. Merchant Marine has won eight of the last 11 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. Last 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.
 
LAST YEAR:  Junior Ryan Jones threw three touchdown passes as Coast Guard captured the Secretaries' Cup for the first time since 2014 with a 26-12 over archrival Merchant Marine spoiling the  Mariners hopes of a share of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship.
 
It was Coast Guard's first win at Merchant Marine since 1996 and the first road win in the series for head coach Bill George. The Bears finished 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the NEWMAC while Merchant Marine finished 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the conference. The seven wins for the Bears were the most since the team finished 8-2 and won the NEFC Bogan Division in 2007.
 
Jones finished 22 of 42 for 269 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Sophomore Justin Moffatt had a game-high 10 receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown while freshman Damaso Jaime had eight receptions for a career-high 123 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
 
Moffatt, with his 10 receptions, set the CGA single-season record with 71 catches breaking the record of 70 set by Eric Gerken in 2011.
 
Coast Guard held Merchant Marine to just 58 yards in the second half and the Bears had three interceptions in a span of 2:27 in the fourth quarter as the Mariners were forced to throw to comeback.
 
Senior linebacker Jake Behne had a career-high 18 tackles, 15 solo to finish the season with 103. Behne, juniors Michael Goldsworthy, Dan Dinges and Patrick Crowley each registered an interception in the win.
 
The Bears finished with 331 yards, 269 passing and 62 rushing while the Mariners had 212 yards, 191 rushing and 21 passing.
 
Coast Guard forced a three-and-out on the opening possession, but the Bears fumbled on the second play. Merchant Marine would miss a 25-yard field goal with 8:02 left in the opening quarter and the game remained scoreless.
 
The Mariner defense came up big when senior Jesse Byorth returned an interception 22 yards to the Coast Guard 4 and on the next play, senior Wiley Martin scored giving the Mariners a 7-0 following the extra point with 6:25 left.
 
Moffatt had a 28 yard kick return giving Coast Guard the ball at the Mariner 48 and the Bears drove  to the Mariner 1-yard line, when Chris Gardner was stopped on 4th and goal with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
 
The Bears would tie it up on a 15 yard touchdown pass from Jones to Jaime with 27 seconds left in the first quarter after senior Cole Austin added the PAT.
 
Merchant Marine took a 10-7 lead on a 26 yard field goal by junior Gavin Gartner with 8:20 left in the half. The field goal capped a 17 play, 69 yard drive that took just over seven minutes off the clock.
Coast Guard came up big late in the first half when Behne intercepted Abbott and returned it 22 yards to the Mariner 30 with 35 seconds left, that would be the key play in this game.
 
Jones would fire a 29 yard touchdown pass to Moffatt with 12 seconds left in the half on 3rd-and-9, the extra point was missed and Coast Guard led 13-10 at halftime. Jones was 12 of 26 for 156 yards in the first half while Jaime led the way with five receptions for 73 yards.
 
Coast Guard struck on the opening drive of the second half marching 65 yards in just over two minutes as Jones threw a 30 yard touchdown to Jamie giving the Bears a 20-10 lead with 12:57 left in the third quarter
 
Sophomore Jon Wagner's five yard touchdowns run with 6:36 left capped a 10 play, 81 yard drive as the Bears took a 26-10 lead.
 
The Mariners would throw interceptions on their next three possessions and Coast Guard took a safety on purpose with 15 seconds left to close the scoring.
 
LAST WEEK: Sean McAllen and Connor Field combined to rush for 243 yards and five rushing touchdowns in the first half leading WPI to a 54-7 win over Coast Guard in a NEWMAC game, the Bears final road game of the season.
 
McAllen had eight carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half, while Field (12 carries, 81 yards) had 79 of his 81 yards and all three touchdowns in the aforementioned half as WPI led 45-7 at the break.
 
The Engineers ran up 473 yards of total offense in the win, 313 rushing, while the Bears were held to 101 total yards.Ryan Jones was 11 of 27 for 66 yards with three interceptions before being replaced by John Barbera late in the third quarter. 
 
Merchant Marine had 572 yards of total offense, 348 on the ground in a 47-10 win over Catholic. 
 
ONE FINAL GAME FOR THE COACH: Coast Guard head coach Bill George announced on Tuesday that this will be his final game before retiring after 21 seasons and a program record 75 wins 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.
 
CLOSE SHAVES: For the first time in the 96 year history of Coast Guard football the Bears played six straight games decided by 10 points or less, three of those decided on the last play of regulation or overtime, to open the season before the 33-8 win at Maine Maritime on Oct. 19th. 
 
The Bears have played a pair of overtime games in the same season for just the second time as the team also accomplished that feat in 1997 with wins over RPI (22-16) and Springfield (26-20) en route to winning a school record nine games, winning the Freedom Football Conference Championship and earning a berth to the NCAA playoffs.
 
RARE AIR: Ryan Jones became the fourth player in Academy history to throw for over 4,000 yards as he threw for a career-high 353 yards and three touchdowns on Oct 19th at Maine Maritime. 
 
He now has 4,382 passing yards joining Derek Victory, (2013-'16) who is the all-time leader with 7,513 along with Jon Resch (2009-'12), who has 4,569 and Cory Anderson (2002-'05) with 4,459.
 
Jones needs 78 yards to pass Anderson for third on the all-time list and 188 yards to pass Resch and finish his career second on the Bears' passing yards list.
 
MOFFATT SURPASSES 2,000 YARD PLATEAU: Justin Moffatt became just the second receiver in Coast Guard program history to go over the 2,000 yard mark as he have game-highs of seven receptions for 116 yards against MIT on Oct. 26th to finish the game with 2,002 career receiving yards second to only Christian Lee ('93-'96), who has an Academy record 2,356 yards. He now has 2,014 yards in his career. 
 
MR. OVERTIME: Jon Wagner's 12-yard touchdown run in double overtime was his second game winning touchdown in overtime this season. He had a 20-yard touchdown run in a 24-23 overtime win at Nichols on Sept. 13th.
 
SCOUTING COAST GUARD: The Bears look to retain the Secretaries Cup' with back-to-back wins in the rivalry game for the first time since 1996 and 1997.
 
Senior quarterback Ryan Jones is 151 of 275 for 1,619 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Junior Justin Moffatt has a NEWMAC-high 61 receptions and leads the team with 723 yards to go with four touchdowns while sophomore Damaso Jaime has 24 receptions for 375 yards and a team-high five touchdown receptions.
 
Juniors Jon Wagner and Chris Gardner are the Bears one-two punch in the backfield. Wagner leads the way with 431 yards (95 carries) and a team-high five rushing touchdowns while Gardner has 73 carries for 234 yards. Jones has 62 carries for 158 yards and a two touchdowns. Wagner is third on the team with 20 receptions for 161 yards.
 
Coast Guard is averaging 19.1 points and 275.6 yards per game (94.9 rushing and 180.7 passing).
 
The Coast Guard defense is allowing 20.2 points, third best in the NEWMAC, and 339.7 yards per game this season, 213.2 passing and 126.4 yards per game on the ground. 
 
The Bears pass rush has been outstanding registering a NEWMAC best 28 sacks this season. Junior defensive lineman Philip Orlando (59 tackles) leads conference with eight sacks and 13 tackles for loss. 
 
Senior linebacker R.J. Robiskie (38 tackles), who is second in the NEWMAC with 7.5 sacks and junior linebacker Zach Lukasik who has four sacks on the season, were both injured in the loss to MIT on Oct 26th and are out for the season.
 
Junior linebacker Eugene Bizer leads the NEWMAC with 94 tackles. He has 8.5 tackles for loss, a sack with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Senior cornerback Patrick Crowley (54 tackles) is tied for the NEWMAC lead with four interceptions.
 
SCOUTING MERCHANT MARINE: The Mariners look to win back the Secretaries' Cup in the season finale.
 
Merchant Marine's potent triple option attack is averaging 483.3 yards per game, 319.9 rushing and 39.3 points per game. 
 
Senior quarterback Krystian Abbott is 61 of 98 for 1,214 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing for 228 yards and five scores.
 
Senior fullback James Early leads the Mariners with 423 yards and four touchdowns while sophomore fullback Alex Kiernan (358 yards) leads the team with six rushing touchdowns.
 
The Merchant Marine defense is allowing 376.1 yards per game, 257.5 passing and 29.9 points per game.
 
Sophomore linebacker Eric Davidson leads the team with 46 tackles, 22 solo and three interceptions while freshman Colton Ray (28 tackles) leads the team with five sacks.
 
LAST WEEK'S NEWMAC GAMES
SATURDAY, NOV. 9TH
Springfield 56, Maine Maritime 7
WPI 54, Coast Guard 7
Merchant Marine 47, Catholic 10
MIT 34, Norwich 21
 
THIS WEEK'S NEWMAC GAMES
SATURDAY, NOV. 16TH
Merchant Marine at Coast Guard, noon
WPI at Norwich, noon
MIT at Springfield, noon
Catholic at Maine Maritime, noon
 
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