The US Merchant Marine Academy Mariners posted their sixth consecutive win on the gridiron on Saturday on Tomb Field in Brooks Stadium with a 35-17 victory over the Wolverines of Grove City College. Junior tailback David McNeal (San Antonio, TX) owned the day with 219 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries. Kings Point stands at 7-2 overall and owns a 4-1 Freedom Football Conference ledger. The Wolverines fall to 3-7 overall in 2002.
The Mariners opened the scoring at 13:31 after gaining the ball on a fumble by Grove City. McNeal, the co-Offensive Player of the Week in the FFC, went 18 yards to put Kings Point ahead 7-0. In the second, the Wolverines got on the board with a 24-yard field goal by kicker Mike Titzel (Greenville, PA). However, the Mariners responded with three unanswered tallies to enter the intermission on top by a 28-3 differential. At 7:59, junior quarterback Dan Circelli (New Hartford, NY) scored on a keeper from one yard out. Then McNeal had another 18-yard scoring run at 5:32 and a six-yard scamper at 1:54 before the break.
Grove City gained some momentum in the second half as junior Steve Roberts (East Petersburg, PA) had back-to-back scores on runs of two yards and six yards. The first touchdown came at 2:10 of the third and the second score was 10:28 of the fourth. McNeal wrapped up the scoring with a 21-yard breakaway with 1:35 left to play.
McNeal is now three carries and 37 yards shy of breaking Dreu Beers' season carries record of 280 (1993) and the season rushing record held by Wes Stearns (1,584 yards, 1992). He has run the ball 278 times for 1,548 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Quarterback Dan Circelli completed 10 of 17 passes for 109 yards. Sophomore Andrew Ghiglia (Arroyo Grande, CA) led the receivers with five catches for 56 yards while rookie Kris Smith (Mt. Pleasant, SC) had two grabs for 30 yards. Junior punter Jeremy Moseley (Chapin, SC) kicked three times for 118 yards and uncorked a long punt of 51 yards. Senior kicker Erik Hedval (Santee, CA) was a perfect 5-5 in PATs. Junior Rich Martucci (Closter, NJ) had an outstanding defensive day for Kings Point with seven tackles, five tackles for loss (25 yards) and three sacks (18 yards). Martucci and punter Jeremy Moseley were named to the FFC Honor Roll following the game. Junior Kyle Franklin (Acworth, GA) had seven tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss while senior Mike Brady (Fort Myers, FL) and sophomore Matt Furhman (Fayetteville, GA) also each made seven stops.
Grove City quarterback Todd Smargiasso (New Wilmington, PA) completed 13 of 24 passes for 204 yards. Roberts ended the game with two touchdowns and 54 yards on 16 attempts. Junior Bo Danton (Pasadena, MD) had three catches for 62 yards. On defense, Grove City College got nine tackles from Mike Prioletti (Harmony, PA).
The Mariners will conclude the regular season next weekend at home with the annual battle for the Secretary's Cup against the US Coast Guard Academy. The winner of the "Little Army-Navy Game" will be presented the Secretary's Cup by Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta who will be on hand for the game. Grove City's season is complete.