NEW LONDON, Conn. – Sophomore quarterback Derek Victory threw three touchdown passes, all in the second half, two of them to junior Jordan Groff, as Coast Guard won the Secretaries' Cup for the first time since 2010 with a come-from-behind 42-31 win over archrival Merchant Marine.
Victory was 20 of 31 for 281 yards and three touchdowns with one interception while Groff led the Bears with six receptions for 136 yards and his first two career touchdowns.
Coast Guard (1-1) took the lead for good 35-31 on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Victory to Groff with 12 seconds left in the third quarter. It was also the Bears first lead of the game.
Victory found Groff again, this time for 47 yards on a 3rd and three with 5:20 left to close the scoring.
Merchant Marine (1-1) opened the scoring on an 8-yard run by junior Mario Colangelo with 8:50 left in the first quarter.
The Bears tied the game on a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Jake Wawrzyniak on the ensuing possession to tie the game 7-7.
Following a fumbled punt by Coast Guard, the Mariners went 15 yards with Colangelo scoring on a 3-yard run to give Merchant Marine a 14-7 lead with 2:24 left in the opening quarter.
Merchant Marine's defense got a stop and the Mariners then marched 71 yards in ten plays capped on 28-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Matthew McDaniels with 11:39 left in the half for a 21-7 lead.
Coast Guard answered just over a minute later on Wawrzyniak's 38-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 21-14 with 10:32 left in the half.
Colangelo scored his third touchdown of the half on the next drive, a 12-yard run, giving the Mariners a 28-14 lead with 7:18 left in the half.
The Bears drove down to the Mariners 6-yard line, but turned it over on downs with 3:13 in the half.
The key play to game came on the next play as McDaniels attempted his first pass of the day and it was intercepted by junior Eli Maurer, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown and the Bears quickly had all the momentum trailing 28-21 with 3:05 left .
The Coast Guard defense forced a punt to end the half.
Coast Guard tied the game on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Victory to senior Collis Brown with 7:17 left in the third quarter. Brown set up the touchdown with a 32-yard option pass to senior Blake Thompson on the play before the score.
Merchant Marine took the lead on its next possession on a 21-yard field goal by freshman Erik Swayne with 2:08 left in the third quarter.
Victory hit Groff with the 50-yard touchdown on the ensuing possession and the Bears defense got back-to-back stops before the Bears iced the game with the second Victory to Groff touchdown pass.
The Mariners drove to the Coast Guard 27 yard line before turning it over on downs with 3:40 left and Merchant Marine later missed a 38-yard field goal with 26 seconds left.
The Coast Guard defense held Merchant Marine to just three points in the second half. The Mariners had 473 yards of total offense, 449 rushing and 24 passing and had 207 total yards in the second half. McDaniels (23 carries, 174 yards) and Colangelo (21 carries, 110 yards) both had over 100 yards rushing for Merchant Marine.
Coast Guard had 425 yards of offense, 313 passing and 112 on the ground. Wawrzyniak led the Bears with 17 carries for 88 yards. Sophomore Bryan Popp had six receptions for 68 yards while Brown finished with five catches for 53 yards.
Each team turned the ball over twice in the game.
Senior defensive end Aaron Black had a game-high 14 tackles, nine solo and a tackle for loss to lead Coast Guard while senior strong safety Joe Rizzardi added 12 tackles, eight solo. Senior defensive end Joel Wyman (11 tackles) and junior linebacker Kyle Wood (10 tackles) also has double figure tackles in the win.
The 42 points scored by Coast Guard is the most scored by the Bears against the Merchant Marine Academy.
The football win coupled with the wins earlier in the day by the men's soccer and volleyball team gave the Bears a sweep of Merchant Marine for the first time since the Superintendent's Trophy was established in 2002. Each institution gets a point for each win in an athletic contest held during the year.
POST GAME INTERVIEW WITH COAST GUARD HEAD COACH BILL GEORGE