KING’S POINT, N.Y. – After scoring 21 points in the opening quarter, the Susquehanna football team seemed primed to grab a road win in its season opener at Merchant Marine Academy. Unfortunately, the Crusaders were out-scored 35-7 over the final three-plus quarters and ultimately fell 35-28.
SU (0-1) led until more than midway through the third quarter but did not score for the final 37:31 of the game.
USMMA (1-0) had 378 rushing yards to Susquehanna’s 84 although SU finished with 288 yards in the air to the Mariners’ 113. Overall, USMMA out-gained the Crusaders 491-372 in offensive yardage.
Susquehanna’s Denzell Walker (Baltimore, Md./McDonough School) racked up 87 yards on four receptions with one touchdown as he and six other receivers finished with at least one catch on the day. On the ground, sophomore Tim Wade (Doylestown, Pa./La Salle College HS) carried the ball an impressive 24 times for 43 yards and two touchdowns.
Red-shirt senior quarterback Mark Rosenbaum (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) got the start and went 12-of-16 for 216 yards and one touchdown. Junior Taylor Kolmer (Churchville, N.Y./Churchville) went 6-of-9 for 72 yards. Neither quarterback threw an interception.
Wade accounted for 12 of SU’s 21 first-half points with two rushing touchdowns just five minutes apart, the second of which helped make it a 14-0 game. Ian Richardson (Hatfield, Pa./Cavalry Christian) recorded his first collegiate touchdown with a five-yard rushing score which, followed by a Spencer Hotaling (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) kick, made it a 21-0 game with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Mariners were able to get seven of those points back with a touchdown at the 1:11 mark as the first quarter ended with SU still up 21-7.
USMMA, however, scored the game’s next touchdown on an eight-play, 65-yard drive that culminated in dual-threat quarterback Matthew McDaniels’s rushing touchdown that made it 21-14 at the 9:35 mark of the quarter. McDaniels would go on to finish the game with 196 yards and three touchdowns running the ball and 113 yards with one touchdown through the air.
The Mariners’ momentum did not last long, though, as Rosenbaum helped orchestrate a 60-yard drive that ended with a 46-yard touchdown reception by Walker to put the Crusaders back up by 14 (28-14) which remained the score as the teams headed into their locker rooms at halftime.
USMMA was again able to make it a one-score game thanks to an impressive, 15-play, 72-yard drive that burned 8:29 off the clock while making it a 28-21 ballgame.
SU turned it over downs on its ensuing possession, allowing the Mariners to continue their offensive attack. They took just 16 seconds to put together another touchdown drive, a one-play, 88-yard rushing score from McDaniels to knot the game at 28 with 40 seconds to play in the third quarter.
After the teams traded possessions to start the fourth quarter, the Mariners took their first lead of the evening, 35-28, when McDaniels found the endzone for the third time, this time a 66-yard rushing touchdown for a seven-point USMMA lead with 6:12 remaining.
With the clock winding down inside the two-minute mark, Kolmer completed a 13-yard pass to Walker for a first down to put Susquehanna on the Mariners’ 21-yard line with a fresh set of downs.
Wade proceeded to work the ball down to the USMMA one-yard line, setting a fourth-and-goal with 1:02 on the clock. Kolmer’s pass – intended for Casey Tosches – was incomplete, giving the Mariners the ball with 57 left in regulation and effectively ending the game.
Defensively, Jim Barry (Staten Island, N.Y./Brooklyn Poly Prep) led the team with 10 tackles while Tom McLoughlin (Bloomsbury, N.J./Bethlehem Catholic) added nine. Adrian Bernard (East Stroudsburg, Pa./Pius X) and Jared Minori (Tyrone, Pa./Bellwood-Antis) both had eight apiece with Bernard recording a tackle for loss, fumble recovery and a half sack. Minori added two tackles for loss.
T.J. Morton [Elkton, Md./Salesianum (Del.)] punted five times for 218 yards, an average of 43 yards per punt with a long of 68, tied the third-longest punt in Crusader history.
Susquehanna remains on the road next Saturday, Sept. 21, when the team travels to Centennial Conference opponent Johns Hopkins for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.