NEW LONDON, CONN.--(10/2/10)--Sophomore Eric Gerken had quite an
afternoon as he set a school-record with 167 punt return yards
including an 85-yard return for a touchdown, finished with 277
all-purpose yards and scored both Coast Guard touchdowns as the
Bears beat Fitchburg State 19-7 in a New England Football
Conference (NEFC) Bogan Division game in front of a Homecoming
Gerken caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Jon Resch (18 of 39 yards, 220 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) with 6:14 left in the first quarter and junior Jacob Shackleford's extra point gave Coast Guard a 7-0 lead. Gerken tied a career-high with 10 receptions for a career-high 110 yards. He set up the score with a 34-yard punt return and then scored the touchdown on the next play.
Shackleford missed a 44-yard field goal attempt earlier in the quarter and then had a 42-yard attempt blocked on the Bears' first possession of the second quarter.
The Coast Guard defense had three sacks on the next possession and the Falcons punted on 4th and 31 when Gerken zigged and zagged his way 85 yards for his first career punt return for a score and following the extra point Coast Guard led 14-0 with 4:49 left in the first half.
Fitchburg State (1-4, 1-1) got back in the game late in first half when senior quarterback Jordan Cannava (13 of 27 for 155 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) came off the bench and fired a 55-yard touchdown pass to starting quarterback Jeremy Kimber (1 of 5, 21 yards and 5 receptions, 96 yards) cutting the lead to 14-7 with 44 seconds left in the half.
Coast Guard (2-2, 1-1) had 191 of its 265 offensive yards in the first half with Resch throwing for 173 yards in the first half.
Fitchburg had 116 yards in the first half and finished the game with 262 yards, 176 passing.
There was no scoring in the third quarter as Coast Guard punted three times and Fitchburg State punted twice, turned it over on downs at the Coast Guard 37-yard line and Coast Guard linebacker Max Walker picked off Cannava for his first career interception with 41 seconds left in the quarter.
Following the Walker interception, Shackleford missed a 47-yard field goal as it hit the right upright with 14:16 left in the game.
Each team punted and the Falcons took over at their own 15-yard line and following an illegal shift penalty and a pair of incomplete passes, Cannava was called for intentional grounding in the endzone as senior Sam Beauchamp sacked him as Cannava tried to throw the ball away and the Bears led 16-7 with 8:33 left in the game.
Shackleford, the backup punter, then pinned the Falcons at their own one-yard line for the second time in the half. Fitchburg moved the ball to the 15-yard line and had to punt, but Gerken had a 37-yard return down the home sideline to give Coast Guard the ball at the Fitchburg 19-yard line.
This time Shackleford made a 26-yard field goal with 3:39 left to close the scoring.
Fitchburg did take the ball and go on a 14 play, 69-yard drive that ended when Cannava was intercepted by senior linebacker Ben Barrett on first-and-goal from the eight with 55 seconds left.
Senior Darren Wilson led the Falcons on the ground with 25 carries for 107 yards.
The Coast Guard defense was outstanding as it registered five sacks. Senior linebacker Kyle Ennis led the team with 11 tackles, five solo to go with a fumble recovery while Walker added a career-high 10 tackles, seven solo.