Football Sees Early Lead Slip Away in Loss at Merchant Marine

Brendan Gove

Kings Point, NY --- The United States Merchant Marine Academy rallied from an early 9-0 deficit to defeat visiting WPI 26-9 in a Liberty League football contest played on Saturday evening.  Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA) paced the Engineer running attack with 70 yards on 13 carries while Brendan Gove (Rutland, MA) backboned the defensive effort with 10 tackles, including nine solo stops. 

WPI jumped on the scoreboard first with a 30-yard field goal from junior kicker Cody Beckel (Jupiter, FL) with 5:56 remaining in the first quarter. Five minutes later, the three-point score was followed by one of the six-point variety as junior running back Mitch McClune (Pembroke, MA) notched a one-yard rushing touchdown to give the Engineers a 9-0 lead. Beckel's point-after attempt was blocked. 

Four minutes into the second quarter, USMMA senior quarterback Derrick Ventre (Cincinnati, OH) gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he hooked up with junior wideout Michael Mitchell (Mt. Pleasant, SC) for a 25-yard TD catch. The Mariners trailed 9-6 with 11:03 left in the second quarter. 

The rest of the second quarter winded down with no scoring until Kings Point rookie wide receiver Chaise Dunn (Dade City, FL) caught a 15-yard pass from Ventre in the endzone to give USMMA its first edge of the day. With 54 seconds left before halftime, Kings Point led 12-9. 

With a scoreless third quarter, the Mariners took the reins of the fourth quarter and owned it. Mitchell was the culprit again as he caught a 17-yard pass for a touchdown from Ventre with 14:55 remaining in regulation. The Mariners led 19-9 after a successful point-after from Grennen. 

With 2:51 left in the game, Kings Point sophomore running back John-Leon Gosselin (Nashua, NH) added the final touchdown for USMMA when he found the endzone on a 12-yard rush. Grennen's point-after kick made it 26-9, which would be the final. 

For the Mariners, Mitchell finished with 82 yards on four catches and two touchdowns, while Ventre was 5-for-9 and recorded 97 passing yards and three TDs. Gosselin rushed for 92 yards on 25 carries (one TD). Senior linebacker Kevin Stapf (Fort Pierce, FL) had a game-high 12 tackles (11 solo). Junior defensive lineman Michael Hagan (Milles Place, NY) sacked the WPI quarterback twice. 

For the Engineers, Mello had 70 rushing yards on 13 carries, while quarterback junior Pat McAuley (Hingham, MA) was 11-for-28 with 74 passing yards. In addition to Gove's 10 tackles, Hal Reader (Bel Air, MD) and Tom Thackeray (Braintree, MA) each added eight stops while Peter Gill (Franklin, MA) chipped in with seven. 

In a scheduling oddity, both teams take on Rochester in their next contest.  After an off week, WPI will host the Yellow Jackets at noon on Saturday, October 23rd while the Mariners will make the trip to upstate New York next weekend. 

Majority of Release Courtesy Merchant Marine Sports Information