The ‘Jackets swarmed into United States Merchant Marine Academy’s home field in Kingspoint, N.Y. with a mission on their pads: hit hard and win easy. And they did just that, picking up a needed 52-21 victory via a fast-paced offense and a high intensity defense.
With three career-high performances, one of which ties a 38-year-old record, the win showcased UR players at their best. The ‘Jackets improved to 2-4 overall record and 2-2 record in the Liberty league, while the Mariners fell to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Liberty League.
Head coach Scott Greene hailed Saturday’s victory as a product of solid individual efforts on both the defensive and offensive team.
‘There were great efforts by individuals,” he said. ‘[Senior wide receiver Mike] Coolbaugh had a career high, we got a lot of hits on their quarterback. We had no sacks or turnovers and our quarterback was able to throw very well. There were a lot of great individual performances.”
The game started off relatively slow with a failed opening drive by the ‘Jackets. They appeared to be up for a competitive afternoon of football when the Mariners responded with a successful 73-yard drive which lead to a one-yard touchdown by running back Karl Heimbrock.
However, the early score didn’t deter the ‘Jackets. Sophomore quarterback Braezen Subick and junior running back Clarence Onyiriuka stepped up.
Subick passed for 37 yards ,and Onyiriuka finished the drive with a 10-yard rush for the touchdown with only 1:37 left in the first quarter, tying the game at 7-7.
The second quarter proved to be an equally competitive matchup. The Mariners were reduced to a series of short rushes that couldn’t get passed a seemingly impenetrable ‘Jacket defense. Freshman linebacker Brendan Pidgeon produced stifling defense with six tackles in that quarter alone.
Junior Zachary White-Stellato managed to break the ice with a 39-yard field goal, propelling the ‘Jackets to a 10-7 lead. The kick was merely the start of a high-paced offensive performance.
With only 57 seconds left in the first half, Subick was able to finish a successful 73-yard drive with a 33-yard pass to senior wide receiver Adam Barrett. But the ‘Jackets became far too lax with their 17-10 lead.
Fifty seconds of the first half wasn’t going to stop the Mariners from playing for points. Quarterback Derrick Ventre capitalized and produced a 6-for-6, 63-yard drive, closing the half with the score at 17-14.
When the second half began, the ‘Jackets’ dominance was staggering. Onyiriuka had two touchdowns, while Subick was able to complete 9-of-12 passes for 113 yards, including a 40-yard pass to Coolbaugh.
The ‘Jackets closed the show by scoring 28 points in the final quarter. The Mariners defense had no answers for the offense of the ‘Jackets neither did their offense have an answer for the stifling UR defense.
White-Stellato’s seven point-after-touchdown kicks tied with an old record set by past ‘Jacket Dick Rasmussen in 1971 against Williams and matched by T.J. Jasonis over Brockport in 1983.
Two days ago, White-Stellato was commended for his performance when the Liberty League recognized him as the Special Teams Player of the Week.
‘Tying a PAT record is really a credit to our teams ability to score points on offense and defense,” he said. ‘I’m happy to be a part of UR Football history.”
Pidgeon also earned Liberty League recognition for his well-rounded defense. His 10 tackles, forced fumble and 32-yard touchdown interception return also earned him the Liberty League’s Rookie of the Week spot.
The freshman linebacker’s performance exemplified the mentality that defensive coordinator Nick Grange has been thriving for in the ‘Jackets. Grange declared Saturday’s victory as an example of how effective the ‘Jacket defense is when planned strategy and execution are on one accord.
Subick had a career-high performance, throwing 21 for 31 completions and racking up 289 yards. Coolbaugh also had a career-day, grabbing 11 passes for 169 yards.
As the ‘Jackets come home this Saturday for their noon match-up against Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Greene is preparing them for a drastically different opponent.
‘[WPI] likes to blitz a lot,” he said. ‘We’ve made several adjustments, known too drastic. We’re preparing ourselves for protection an getting ready for a high level of competition.”
Nathaniel is a member of the class of 2011.