WASHINGTON – The Catholic University of America football teams looks to stay unbeaten to start the season when the Cardinals play their second-straight road game Saturday at Coast Guard.
It will be a battle of future New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) teams as both programs will join the newly formed league next season. It will be the final nonconference game for both teams.
The two teams will meet for the fourth time ever and for the second-straight season as the Bears visited Washington, D.C., in 2015, a 40-24 Catholic victory.
Scouting the Cardinals
Catholic is 2-0 for the first time since in three years and looking for its first 3-0 start since 2013. The Cards went 6-4 that year.
For the second-straight week, the Cardinals rallied for a victory, winning at Rochester, 27-14. Catholic trailed by at the half, 14-7, but pitched the shutout for the comeback win.
Junior defensive lineman Patrick Vidal anchored the line for first-year head coach Bill Bachman as the D posted three stops inside its own five-yard line. Vidal also blocked a second-half field coach attempt, forced a fumble and had 2.5 tackles for loss, including a sack for 16 yards that forced a punt with just five minutes to go.
For his efforts, Vidal was recognized on the D3football.com National Team of the Week. It's the second-consecutive week a Catholic player has made the team as senior cornerback Justin Paige was selected in week one.
Paige single-handedly turned the momentum in the improbable rally vs. McDaniel. Trailing by 15 with 3:26 to go, Paige blocked a punt near the Green Terror goal line that was recovered for a TD. Catholic would go on to tie it up at 21-all before winning with a touchdown and a defensive stop in the first overtime period. He also picked off a pass and broke up another. He finished the game with four tackles, including three solo stops.
The defense will continue to be key for the Cardinals, and is spear-headed by All-ODAC linebacker Ross Sanford, who has 19 tackles, 3.5 for loss and a sack through two games.
Offensively, All-America candidate Lucas Morley continues to shine with three touchdowns and 14 receptions. Last season, he torched the Bears for 13 catches, 131 yards and two scores. Last year's national leader in receptions per game (10.0) will certainly be a key to week three.
Junior quarterback Jorge Pola continued to progress in his first season as the starter, upping his completion percentage by 12 points in game two. He is now 40-of-69 for 461 and four scores, adding 69 yards on the ground with two rushing TD's.
Catholic also got its running game going last week, going for 197 yards on the ground. Senior Matt Perno went for 102, adding 99 in the air with a touchdown. Fellow running mate, sophomore Nick Esposito, nearly hit the 100-yard plateau at 94 yards.
Scouting the Bears
Coast Guard looks to get its offense back on track in week three. After scoring 21 points in the first half on Saturday the team managed just one first down and 29 total yards in the second half.
Senior quarterback Derek Victory was 21-of-36 for 229 yards with three touchdowns last week. He was 15-of-23 for 204 yards in the first half. For the season, he is 49-of-80 for 583 yards with six touchdowns on the season.
The Bears are averaging 404 yards of total offense per game, 317 of those passing. Sophomore Jeff Porterhas' 87 yards rushing on just seven carries lead the Bears while junior Camden Cecchini is second with 19 carries for 52 yards. Victory has both of the Bears rushing touchdowns.
Junior tight end Cody Bain paces the Bears with 11 receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns while senior wide receiver Kyle Jackson has 10 catches for 99 yards.
The Coast Guard defense is allowing 327.5 yards per game, 238 of those on the ground after allowing 411 rushing yards to the Merchant Marine triple-option attack.
Junior strong safety Ryan Robertson, who had a career-high 14 tackles, 13 solo last week, to earn NEFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, leads the team with 21 tackles while sophomore linebacker Titus Creamer and junior free safety Matt O'Donnell are second with 14 tackles each. Creamer leads the team with three tackles for loss.
About the NEWMAC
It was announced in April of 2015 that the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) will begin sponsoring the sport of football starting in the 2017 season. Current conference members, Coast Guard, MIT, Springfield College and WPI will be joined by Maine Maritime Academy, Merchant Marine Academy and Norwich University and Catholic, who enter the NEWMAC as associate members in 2017.
Springfield, WPI, and Merchant Marine have been participating in the Liberty League, while MIT, Coast Guard, and Maine Maritime are members of the New England Football Conference, and Norwich is a part of the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference and Catholic is part of the ODAC. In addition to the connection Maine Maritime, Merchant Marine and Norwich have to Coast Guard, MIT, Springfield and WPI in football; they also have long-standing relationships with NEWMAC members in other sports.
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