Ross scores three TDs as Union beats Coast Guard 28-10
New London — Coast Guard Academy football coach Bill George referred to the outcome a couple times Saturday using the word “crime.”
“The crime, to me, of the game is that we were in the game even with the mistakes,” George said. “… They capitalized. I bet you they didn't make as many assignment mistakes offensively and defensively.”
Union freshman wide receiver Andre Ross Jr. caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from Will Bellamy with 5 seconds to go before halftime, with Ross Jr. having a day for the ages in a 28-10 nonconference victory over the Bears at Cadet Memorial Field.
Instead of trailing 14-3 at halftime, that made it 21-3 in favor of the Dutchmen (2-0).
Playing against a talented Union defense, including linebacker Jack Reilly — who was an All-Liberty League pick last season and had his arms in the face of Coast Guard quarterback Ryan Jones all day — the Bears (1-1) never quite synchronized things.
Still, Coast Guard left Union coach Jeff Behrman talking in his team's huddle after the game about the no-quit attitude of the Bears.
Coast Guard scored first in the second half on a 1-yard run by Jon Wagner, capping a 12-play, 91-yard drive to pull within 21-10 with 7:19 to play in the fourth quarter.
Union, however, recovered an onside kick attempt by Coast Guard and scored on the short field, with Ross Jr. collecting his third touchdown of the game on a 6-yard pass from Bellamy, who manifested the completion on fourth-and-6.
A 6-foot-3, 190-pound graduate of National Collegiate Prep in Washington, D.C., Ross Jr. finished with 16 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns. He had 10 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, including a 70-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give the Dutchmen a 14-0 lead.
Bellamy was 39-for-52 for 365 yards and three touchdowns.
Coast Guard's Jones was 19-for-33 passing for 215 yards and three interceptions a week after the Bears won their season opener 33-7 over the University of New England. This time, however, Coast Guard's running game produced just 65 yards on 29 carries, as opposed to supplementing Jones' contributions last week with 173 yards rushing.
Justin Moffatt had his second straight 100-yard receiving game, catching a career-high 11 passes for 106 yards. Chip Crowley had two catches for 70 yards, including a 35-yarder to the 1-yard-line set up the Bears' touchdown. Mike Goldsworthy had 10 tackles and Mark Wicke nine.
“That was a backbreaker,” George said of Ross Jr.'s catch right before the half. “… We had a couple of missed things here and there. I'm proud of the team, we came out (in the second half) and stopped them.”
“I'm living the dream right now,” said Ross Jr., who was named Liberty League Rookie of the Week last week with 102 yards receiving and a touchdown in a 30-7 victory over Husson and played even better in Week 2. “Not a lot of freshmen get to play. … (Right before the half), I was thinking, 'We're not going to get this big play.' Then I ran in my route and saw I had them. It was just a rush of excitement.”
George said that Union was “much stronger on the perimeter” on both offense and defense, more so than he saw on film, making things difficult for the Bears. The first quarter was the most telling as Union amassed 173 yards to Coast Guard's 35.
Coast Guard received the opening kickoff and lost a yard on its first possession.
Union then scored on a 16-play drive, getting a 5-yard run from Ike Irabor.
Jones was intercepted by Union's Tucker Newman, leading to Ross Jr.'s first lightning strike of the game, a 70-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 with 4:05 in the first quarter.
The Bears seemed to have settled in on defense, forcing four straight Union punts. Meanwhile Cole Austin kicked a 27-yard field goal for Coast Guard to make it 14-3.
But Coast Guard, on fourth-and-3 at its own 34, was forced to punt back to Union one more time with the clocking running down in the half.
The Dutchmen took over with 25 seconds remaining and Bellamy, not surprisingly, threw three times to Ross Jr., the third one being the game-changer.