Winning the close ones has been the difference for Coast Guard

New London - When Coast Guard Academy practices its two-minute drill, which is more than anyone in the country, coach Bill George says, George makes little concessions to give the offense the advantage. And usually hears about it from the defense.

His reasoning: "You're going to be in the close games. You've got to make a play."

Coast Guard, which earlier this season extended its streak to seven straight losses in games decided by seven points or fewer, is now coming off back-to-back weeks of breathless victories, topping Worcester State 31-28 last week on a game-winning field goal by Tyler Henning in overtime.

The victory also featured a textbook illustration of the two-minute drill, as Coast Guard scored with 33 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and force overtime. The Bears went 81 yards in seven plays, spanning 1 minute, 55 seconds.

Today Coast Guard (4-3 overall, 3-2 New England Football Conference Bogan Division) takes on division-leading Framingham State at 1:30 p.m. Framingham beat the Bears 14-7 last year. One win in its final two games would give Coast Guard a winning record for the first time since 2007.

"That was one of the best drives I've ever seen here," George said of the final drive in regulation, which started with a 21-yard completion from quarterback Jon Resch to Pat Meggers. "It was comparable to Christian George against Bridgewater (to give Coast Guard the 2006 Bogan title).

"It was as good as you will see anywhere on a football field. The catches weren't easy. It was just a great drive. There was a lot of confidence."

Resch, a senior, was 4-for-5 passing for 73 yards on the drive, the final completion a 27-yard catch by tight end Casey Paris to the Worcester State 5. Resch scored on the next play.

In overtime, defensive end Aaron Black came up with a sack to send the opposing team backward, allowing Coast Guard to hold Worcester State scoreless and setting up the game-winning field goal.

"I think the difference is everyone last year that is back and nobody likes to lose in close games," said Resch, who already holds the Coast Guard record for completions (185) and yards (2,200) in a single season.

Resch has been the key to Coast Guard's success. He has spread his 17 touchdown passes among six different receivers. And with injuries to running backs Tyler Hames and Jake Wawrzyniak, the back in overtime last week was freshman Mike Clancy, who not too long ago practiced on the scout team.

Coast Guard's offensive line has allowed just 10 sacks in seven games, and the Bears have scored on red zone opportunities 29 of 36 times (80.6 percent).

"We had a great team coming in without a doubt," Paris said. "People needed to realize and just run with it, get everybody back on the same page, make everybody believe we're good, no ifs ands or buts."

Framingham State (7-1, 5-0) is ranked second in New England. The Rams, whose running back Melikke Van Alstyne needs just 81 yards to reach the 4,000-yard mark for his career, can wrap up their second straight Bogan title with a win and earn the right to host the NEFC championship game on Nov. 10.

The Rams have the top defense in the NEFC, allowing just 11.6 points and 215 yards per game.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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