Kings Point, NY – The USMMA football team came out on the wrong end of a 24-8 decision Saturday afternoon against No. 7 Hobart in the team's Liberty League opener. The Mariner defense forced two turnovers in the second half but would be unable to rally back after the Statesmen scored the game's first 24 points. Matthew McDaniels (Malverne, NY) entered Saturday afternoon as the leading rusher in the nation but the Hobart defense limited the USMMA option offense and kept the sophomore quarterback to only 65 yards and one touchdown.
Hobart (3-0, 1-0 Liberty) forced the Mariners into a three-and-out to start the game and immediately marched into the red zone. However, the USMMA defense came up with a stop and the Statesmen settled for a 30-yard field goal from Sean Kirshe to make it 3-0. Hobart would eventually get the game's first touchdown with 6:28 remaining the second half on a five-yard Conner Hartigan run.
Merchant Marine (3-1, 0-1 Liberty) had its best drive of the opening half on the ensuing possession and found itself with a first-and-goal at the eight yard line. The Mariners used both of their remaining timeouts in the final 35 seconds but were unable to punch the ball into the end zone. The field goal unit had to rush onto the field and a Daniel Kennedy (Youngstown, OH) kick from 23 yards was pushed right as time expired, giving the visitors a 10-0 halftime advantage.
The Statesmen needed only two plays and 45 seconds to score on their first drive of the second half. The first play was an 18-yard run from Steven Webb, who finished with 93 yards on 18 carries. Patrick Conlan then completed a 37-yard touchdown pass to Yosh Karbowinczak to make it 17-0, Hobart. Conlan's stat line for the game included 9-of-20 in the air for 129 yards and one touchdown along with 49 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
As the game went into the fourth quarter Hobart brought out the punt team for a fourth-and-13 at its own 13 yard line. However, a roughing the kicker penalty would extend the drive and three plays later Conlan found room in the middle of the USMMA defense for a 53-yard touchdown scramble that made it 24-0.
The Mariners finally broke through with 3:33 remaining in the fourth quarter after a nine-play, 53-yard drive ended with a one-yard McDaniels touchdown run. The big play of the march also came from the sophomore quarterback on a 27-yard run on third-and-10. Matthew Berglund (North Kingstown, RI) laid out for a diving catch to complete the two-point conversion and close the deficit to 24-8.
Troy Robinson recovered the onside kick for the Statesmen and a Parker Thelander two-yard carry on fourth-and-one sealed the victory for #5 Hobart. Hobart has now won 10 straight meetings against the Mariners since Merchant Marine joined the Liberty League.
Scott Cokeley (Ukiah, CA) and Michael Biehn (The Woodlands, TX) both recorded double-digit tackles for the Mariners defense with 12 and 11, respectively. Dan Pierce (Caldwell, NJ) notched four tackles along with a forced fumble and fumble recovery following his strip of Webb in the third quarter. USMMA converted on only 33 percent of its third downs (5-of-15) but won the time of possession battle by holding the ball for 32:17.
The USMMA football team returns to action on the road next Saturday for a 1:00 pm kick-off against RPI.