Coast Guard has rea­son to cel­e­brate

Bears de­feat arch-ri­val Mer­chant Marine and fin­ish with most wins since the 2007 sea­son

The Day - - SPORTS - By VICKIE FULKERSON Day Sports Writer

Kings Point, N.Y. — The giddy Coast Guard Academy cadets who made the trip to the Mer­chant Marine Academy for Satur­day's red, white and blue ri­valry game were chant­ing, “Reg-gie! Reg-gie!” pay­ing homage to line­backer R.J. Ro­biskie's late sack (his first name is Regi­nald).

That was fol­lowed by the “We be­lieve that we will win” chant.

And then, mo­ments later, af­ter a joy­ous cel­e­bra­tion, Ad­mi­ral Karl Schultz, the com­man­dant of the Coast Guard, pre­sented coach Bill Ge­orge with a chal­lenge coin to mark the oc­ca­sion of a de­ci­sive 2612 vic­tory over Mer­chant Marine, in which the Bears al­lowed their op­po­nents just 58 sec­ond-half yards to take home the Sec­re­taries' Cup for the first time since 2014.

The win al­lowed Coast Guard to fin­ish 7-3, the re­verse of last year's 3-7 record, and marked the Bears' first vic­tory on the Kings Point cam­pus since 1996.

“It's about as awe­some as it gets,” Ge­orge said. “Ray (LaForte, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor) kept telling me he thought the guys were tight, a lit­tle ner­vous. I no­ticed it last night when we got off the bus to go in the mo­tel, I looked back and they were all se­ri­ous. It's good. You want guys to be se­ri­ous.”

The sights and sounds of the af­ter­math were made pos­si­ble by this:

An in­ter­cep­tion by Coast Guard se­nior Jake Behne — also one of

the script-writ­ers from last week's vic­tory over WPI — gave the Bears the ball on the Mariners' 30-yard line with 35 sec­onds re­main­ing in the first half.

The in­ter­cep­tion led to a 29-yard touch­down pass from Ryan Jones to Justin Mof­fatt, who dove for­ward into the end zone for the catch. Coast Guard led 13-10 at half­time, then scored on a 65-yard drive to start the sec­ond half on a 30-yard throw from Jones to fresh­man Da­maso Jaime to make it 20-10.

The ju­bi­lance was also fa­cil­i­tated by this:

Jones, the ju­nior quar­ter­back, de­spite a rough start, kept his poise un­der the most hard-charg­ing Mer­chant Marine blitzes and kept throw­ing. He was 22-for-42 for 269 yards and three touch­downs, pick­ing apart the Mariners' de­fense (while also help­ing it at times with three fum­bles and an in­ter­cep­tion).

Yet ev­ery time Jones had an op­por­tu­nity to get the Coast Guard into the end zone, he did so un­fail­ingly.

Coast Guard scored its fi­nal touch­down with 6:36 re­main­ing on a 5-yard run by Jon Wag­ner, capping an 81-yard drive which took 5:10 off the clock and made the score 26-10.

The Bears then in­ter­cepted Mer­chant Marine's Krys­tian Ab­bott three times, one each for Mike Goldswor­thy, Dan Dinges and Pat Crow­ley, to seal the vic­tory, at the same time cost­ing the Mariners (7-2, 5-2 in the New Eng­land Women's and Men's Ath­letic Con­fer­ence) a share of the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship and a pos­si­ble NCAA tour­na­ment bid.

The game, played be­tween the two U.S. ser­vice acad­e­mies for the 47th time, was broad­cast by ESPN3 in honor of the Vet­er­ans Day hol­i­day.

Jones was asked about what Ge­orge said re­gard­ing the team be­ing ner­vous to start.

“I think it was ev­i­dent that I was,” he said, smil­ing, re­fer­ring to a fum­ble on the Bears' sec­ond play from scrim­mage. “I just got my hands sweaty out here in the cold and went to work.

“I knew this was go­ing to be a good pass­ing day for me. It was last year. I felt great. The of­fen­sive line kept me safe all day. I was just run­ning around throw­ing balls to guys I knew would catch it. No one has been that safe against the Mer­chant Marine de­fense all year.”

Coast Guard's Mof­fatt fin­ished with 10 catches for 102 yards and a touch­down — giv­ing him 71 catches for the sea­son, a Coast Guard record — and Jaime had eight catches for 123 yards and two touch­downs.

Behne, who last week ran a fake punt for a first down in Coast Guard's vic­tory, fin­ished with a ca­reer-high 18 tack­les and the cru­cial in­ter­cep­tion against Mer­chant Marine. That gives Behne, a se­nior line­backer, a team-lead­ing 103 tack­les for the sea­son.

“It's great, prob­a­bly the best end­ing you could ask for,” Behne said. “It's def­i­nitely the most fun I've had play­ing foot­ball. It was an emo­tional day … just all day know­ing it's the last time you're play­ing foot­ball. No one on this team has beat Kings Point un­til now.”

“The in­ter­cep­tion and the re­sult­ing touch­down was prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant thing that hap­pened to­day,” Jones said. “I'm just so proud of this team. You've got to treat it just like an­other game. But to fin­ish 7-3 against Kings Point on their home turf … ”

Added Jones: “Three years ago when I was get­ting re­cruited to come to the Coast Guard, if you would have told me you're go­ing to be play­ing on ESPN one day … I'm blessed just to have this op­por­tu­nity on Vet­er­ans Day. Thank you (to the vet­er­ans) and I'm glad we could show them a great foot­ball game.” v.fulkerson@the­day.com

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