Football Suffers a Hard Fought 28-13 Loss at Merchant Marine

John Antonopoulos

Kings Point, NY – The USMMA football team rattled off 28 straight points Saturday afternoon en route to a 28-13 victory in a Liberty League contest against WPI at Brooks Stadium. Quarterback Alex Coviello (Cape Coral, FL) finished the day with 87 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Merchant Marine. Skyler Stone (Glen Allen, VA) recorded his fourth interception of 2012, tying him for the top spot in the conference.

Merchant Marine (4-4, 2-3 Liberty) bounced back from a tough defensive outing last time out and limited the Engineers offense to just 212 total yards and shutout the visitors through the first quarter. The Mariners also forced three turnovers as Matt Jernigan (Flower Mound, TX) and Christopher Oehl (Smithtown, NY) both came up with fumble recoveries. However, the USMMA offense also struggled in the first quarter as the two sides remained tied at 0-0 after the first 15 minutes of action.

WPI (1-6, 1-4 Liberty) would break onto the scoreboard first as Chris Turner (Manchester, CT)dove across the goal line from three yards out to make it 7-0. The TD run capped a 12-play drive that covered 65 yards over 5:18. Turner finished the day with 75 yards on 20 carries for the Engineers.

However, the Mariners answered right back with a 13-play march down the field on the ensuing possession. USMMA picked up a fourth-and-one deep in WPI territory on a run from Coviello. Coviello struck again to capitalize on the conversion and surged into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown run that leveled the game at 7-7. The score would remain there as the two teams headed into the locker room for halftime.

The USMMA defense started the second half strong and forced a three-and-out from the WPI offense. Tyler Washington (Chatham, NY) was the Mariners top tackler on the day, recording eight stops, while Shaine Grogan (Dalton, MA)tallied a game high 14 tackles for the Engineers. Mario Colangelo (Staten Island, NY), who finished with a team high 92 rushing yards, and Coviello both broke away for big runs on the Mariners first drive of the second half. Matthew McDaniels (Malverne, NY) got the call to punch it in from five yards out for his first career touchdown.

Merchant Marine continued to get solid field position in the second half as the defense limited five straight WPI drives to four plays or less. The Mariners made it a two score game early in the fourth quarter as freshman Zachary Boucher (Wyckoff, NJ) also recorded his first career touchdown on a ten-yard score.

Oehl's fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter gave USMMA another short field as the offense took over at the WPI 36-yard line. Eight plays later, Coviello notched his second touchdown run of the game to push the Merchant Marine advantage to 28-7 with 4:07 remaining in regulation.

The Engineers went 67 yards in the final 1:10 of the contest and John Antonopoulos (Cambridge, MA)found Roger Blanchard (Burrillville, RI)for a one-yard touchdown pass as time expired. Antonopoulos was limited to 105 yards through the air on 11-of-25 passing.

Merchant Marine dominated the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 38:21, including over 21 minutes in the second half. The Mariners held the Engineers to just 12 first downs and 3-of-11 (27%) on third-down.

WPI had four players who registered double digit tackles, leading the way was Grogan with fourteen. Michael Grasis (East Brookfield, MA) finished the day with thirteen while Joe Everett (Columbia, CT) and Stephen Barker (Saugas, MA) each tallied ten.

USMMA will now head into its bye week before they take on Union. WPI returns to the gridiron on Saturday when they host St.Lawrence at noon.