College football: Coast Guard at Merchant Marine
When: Today, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Captain Tomb Field, Kings Point, N.Y.
Records: Coast Guard 0-1 overall; Merchant Marine 1-0.
Last week: Coast Guard lost to St. Lawrence 21-17; Merchant Marine beat Susquehanna 35-28.
Players to watch: Coast Guard, QB Blake Thompson (6-for-14, 67 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs; 15 carries, 94 yards, 0 TDs), RB Jake Wawrzyniak (25 carries, 74 yards, 1 TD), WR Collis Brown (4 catches, 44 yards, 0 TD), LB Nick Phillips (11 tackles), DB Joe Rizzardi (14 tackles), DB Evan Rothfeld (1 INT).
Merchant Marine, QB Matthew McDaniels (5-for-9, 113 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 28 carries, 196 yards, 3 TDs), RB Zachary Boucher (16 carries, 84 yards, 0 TD), RB Connor Kennedy (5 carries, 57 yards, 0 TD; 2 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD), LB Scott Cokeley (12 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss).
Analysis: Thompson, Coast Guard's quarterback, moved to the position from wide receiver this season and had the enviable task of replacing all-time leading passer Jon Resch. The athletic Thompson, a triple-option quarterback in high school, carried the ball 15 times to lead the Bears in rushing with 94 yards in last week's loss to St. Lawrence, but had trouble throwing. He was 6-for-14 for 67 yards and two interceptions. "I don't know if we threw the ball well enough to threaten anybody," coach Bill George said. "He might have been nervous, I don't know, but he threw well in practice, he threw pretty well in a scrimmage, so something's there." George is hoping Thompson takes off in a similar fashion as former quarterback Christian George, also a convert from receiver whose debut against Merchant Marine in 2006 resulted in a 7-for-16 performance for 49 yards. Christian George went on to be named New England Football Conference Bogan Division Offensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. "Christian didn't even listen until after his first game," Bill George said. "We'll get better. ... (Thompson has) got to be able to throw; we're a spread offense. But quarterback is the hardest position. There's 32 of them in the NFL and only 16 of them are any good." ... The rivalry game is played annually for the Secretaries' Cup. Merchant Marine won 43-37 a year ago and is looking to win the cup for the third straight season. Coast Guard last won in 2010 in New London, but hasn't won at Kings Point since 1996. ... Merchant Marine runs the triple-option, requiring the Coast Guard defenders to pay strict attention to their assignments. The Bears' defense played well last week, blocking three field goals and getting the key pick from Rothfeld on the 2-yard line. Rothfeld also returned one of the blocked field goals 58 yards to set up a touchdown.
- Vickie Fulkerson
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