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    Thursday, September 28, 2023

    Coast Guard has caught lightning in a bottle on offense, tops Nichols 49-42

    Coast Guard ’s Harrison Hensley (33) tries to run away from Nichols’ Latte Kornegay, grabbing shirt, and Brendan Coppola during Saturday’s football game in New London where the Bears beat the Bison 49-42. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Coast Guard’s Broock Desta (10) catches a pass over Nichols’ Dante Barboza (9) during Saturday’s football game in New London. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Coast Guard quarterback Joey Armentrout (13) looks to pass the ball during Saturday’s football game against Nichols in New London. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Coast Guard’s Nico Barrios (7) tackles Nichols’ River Jackson (1) during Saturday’s football game in New London. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    New London — Joey Armentrout looked to the left and to the right and saw no one, so he kept going, a 57-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes remaining Saturday that gave the Coast Guard Academy football team a two-touchdown lead.

    The Bears, who have scored 142 points in the last two weeks, beat Nichols 49-42.

    Coast Guard head coach C.C. Grant made sure to point out later to Armentrout that if he had simply gained the first down, then slid to stop the play, he would have kept the clock running and not made the final two minutes so interesting.

    But having lightning for an offense is not exactly a bad problem to have.

    “I figured that a touchdown would be better,” said a smiling Armentrout, who accounted for four Coast Guard touchdowns, two passing and two rushing. “It did feel good.

    “So many options. I’ve never had that option before playing quarterback. Usually you’ve got one or two guys. We can do any package with five or two or one receiver. It really just varies. It gives me confidence knowing I can go wherever with the football and all I gotta do is get them the ball and they’ll make plays.”

    Armentrout finished 26-for-40 with 329 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and scored on runs of 1 and 57 yards. Freshman running back Harrison Hensley carried 23 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns and sophomore Broock Desta had nine catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.

    The Bears (2-1) begin play in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference next week at Springfield.

    Coast Guard, under offensive coordinator JB Wells, in his second season, runs a no-huddle offense where the cadence is akin to the Indy 500. A few times Saturday, for instance, the referee who spotted the ball at the line of scrimmage had trouble getting out of the way before the ball was snapped.

    “We’re a little bit behind defensively, I’ll say that,” Grant said. “Offensively, I think Joe, in his second year of the offense (at quarterback) has a better understanding. It looked so good in the first half.

    “Offensively, if they just keep it going ... JB has done a great job instituting it. In JB’s mind he has, ‘I know what I want to go to. I know I can bang with this. I’ve got two or three plays I want to go to.’ You can do that and the faster you do it, obviously for us, it worked pretty good.”

    Coast Guard led 28-0, getting a 23-yard touchdown pass from Armentrout to Ezra Tetreault, a 24-yard scoring run from Hensley, a 29-yard pass from Armentrout to Desta and an 8-yard reverse by wide receiver Amr Baadini, moonlighting as a running back.

    Nichols scored to make it 28-7 at halftime and then the Bison kept coming, picking off a pass by Armentrout and turning that into a touchdown to pull within 28-14. Nichols got within one touchdown for the first time with 8:48 to play, making it 35-28.

    Hensley responded to that with a 31-yard touchdown run, but Nichols kept pushing until finally, after Armentrout’s 57-yard jaunt, the Bison scored one more time with 12 seconds remaining on a 7-yard run from Zahir Booker.

    Defensive back Ryan Vigo made 12 tackles to lead Coast Guard.

    Armentrout, who got the call to start midway through his freshman year, gives a lot of credit for his growth to former quarterbacks coach Derik Abbott, now an assistant at Pittsburgh. Abbott used to tell Armentrout, “Don’t be a freshman your whole life.”

    Armentrout is 60-for-100 for 940 yards and seven touchdowns passing with three TDs rushing, while helping the younger players flourish.

    “I’ve been a younger brother my whole life,” Armentrout said, mentioning his older brother Johnny, who also played football. “It’s a good feeling to kind of feel like a big brother.”

    At halftime, Coast Guard honored six Gold Star Families, who have lost family members in the line of service. Coast Guard Adm. Steven Poulin presented Gold Star Family member Dr. Suzanne Sheaffer with the Distinguished Public Service Award and Grant later honored Sheaffer by giving her the game ball.

    Nichols fell to 1-2.


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