WASHINGTON, D.C. - Catholic University football freshman Johnny Hecht hauled in five receptions for 120 yards, both career highs, while scoring on an 86-yard touchdown from sophomore Nick Gonzalez as the Cardinals dropped a NEWMAC contest to Merchant Marine Saturday at Cardinal Stadium, 44-10.
Catholic (0-9, 0-6 NEWMAC) did not allow a 100-yard rusher for the fourth time this season while forcing at least one turnover for the 10th consecutive game.
Hecht is the second player to surpass 100 yards receiving this season, joining sophomore Trey Carson who had 109 yards at Utica on September 8.
The 86-yard completion from Gonzalez to Hecht in the first quarter was the longest pass completion for Catholic since Kevin Ricca found Reggie McManus for 86 yards on third-and-9 from their own 11-yard line at Hampden-Sydney on Oct. 25, 2008. It is also the longest touchdown completion for the Cardinals since Ricca connected with Ryan Bowman for 86 yards on third-and-23 against McDaniel at Cardinal Stadium on Sept. 16, 2006.
Hecht's touchdown reception with 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter pulled Catholic within three at the end of the first quarter, 10-7. Catholic had 105 yards of total offense in the opening quarter and just 89 over the final three.
The Mariners (7-1, 5-1 NEWMAC) scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter, including a fumble recovery in the end zone right before the half to extend their lead to 31-7.
Merchant Marine, who entered the game at No. 8 in the East Region, scored on 10-yard touchdown run early in the third before the Cardinals were able to get back on the scoreboard with 2:48 left in the quarter on a 33-yard field goal by freshman Sean Gould. He is a perfect 4-for-4 on field goal attempts this season, including 3-for-3 on attempts between 30-39 yards.
The Mariners capped the scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run with 11:05 left in the fourth, finishing a 12-play, 48-yard drive that used 6:43. USMMA dominated time of possession, controlling the ball for 39:24, including 22:22 in the second half. The visitors ran 87 plays and amassed 25 first downs, running the ball 79 times for 23 first downs.
In his first career start, Gonzalez completed 12-of-23 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown, but was intercepted once and sacked four times. Freshman Michael Nicosia entered in the third quarter and was 5-of-13 for 68 yards. He was sacked three times.
Freshman Mekhail White had four catches for 66 yards, his highest totals since he had seven receptions for 70 yards and one touchdown against McDaniel in the season opener.
Defensively, the freshman tandem of Liam Dearing and Rocco Longo each had 15 tackles, both career highs. Sophomore Drew Thomas added a career-high 13 stops while sophomore Andrew Funaki had a career-high 11 tackles, including two for loss and one pass breakup.
Catholic wraps up the 2018 season next Saturday, November 10 when they host Maine Maritime at Cardinal Stadium beginning at noon.