CASTINE, Maine – The Maritime Football pulled out a dramatic comeback on Saturday afternoon to start off their season with a victory over the Maine Maritime Mariners by the score of 35-28 in overtime on Ritchie Field.
Maritime trailed by two touchdowns at 28-14 with 6:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Privateers remained poised and marched 61 yards to trim the deficit to 28-21. After a well-placed kickoff by junior Matthew Murphy (Seaford, N.Y./Seaford) that was downed at the one-yard line, the defense went to work and held Maine Maritime to just seven plays and 41 yards.
The Privateers took the ball over with 2:32 left in regulation and raced 74 yards down the field in just 1:54 as junior Thomas Wright (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh) found senior Andrew Short (Covington, La./St. Paul's) for the 28-yard touchdown score to tie the game at 28.
In the extra session, Maritime got the ball first and needed just four plays to reach the end zone and put the Privateers ahead for the first time since early in the third quarter. The Mariners got a first down on their first play in the extra session, but junior Nick Conte (Franklin Square, N.Y./Carey) penetrated the backfield and forced a second and long scenario. Two plays later, senior Kendal Parker (Evans, Ga./Lakeside) iced the victory for the Privateers with an interception as Maritime emerged victorious.
"What a roller coaster of a game!", said Head Coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes after the game. "It was ugly at times but our players made the critical plays at the critical times to pull out the win. I'm so proud of our team and that they never gave up."
Leading the way for the Privateers on offense was Wright, who threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 10 completions, while also scrambling for 59 yards and one score on the ground. Sophomore Severino Torelli (Bayville, N.Y./Locust Valley) led the team on the ground with 89 yards and one touchdown, while senior Brett McKinney (Westernville, N.Y./Rome Free Academy) also scored one time as he accumulated 61 yards.
Short was Wright's favorite target as he picked up 62 yards and caught both of Wright's touchdown passes. Torelli caught four passes out of the backfield for 14 yards, while junior Matt Ward (Ronkonkoma, N.Y./Sachem North) added 32 yards on a pair of catches. Sophomore Christian Castle (Felton, Pa./Red Lion) hauled in one pass for nine yards.
On defense, senior Eric Wallace (West Point, N.Y./James O'Neill) had a career-game with 16 tackles on the afternoon, the 16 tackles is tied for the fifth highest total for a Privateer defender in any individual game. Senior Brian Price (New York, N.Y./Wadleigh) had 13 stops, while both Parker and Conte had a dozen tackles apiece. Conte also tied a program record with two interceptions in one game, which had been done six times in the 10 year history of the program.
The game began slowly as both sides struggled to move the ball on each of their first two possessions in the contest.
After senior John Arny (Metuchen, N.J./Metuchen) punted the ball back to Maine Maritime at the conclusion of the first quarter, the Mariners struck first on their first possession of the second quarter with a touchdown, and missed extra point to take a 6-0 advantage.
Wright was intercepted on the next Maritime series, but Conte swiped the ball right back with a pick and set the Privateers up once again from their own 13-yard line.
Maritime returned to form on offense as the team chewed away at both yards as well as time on the scoreboard as the Privateers milked 8:34 off the clock to go 91 yards. McKinney was the final carry, bursting into the end zone on a two-yard carry. Murphy's extra point gave Maritime a 7-6 lead.
On the first play of the next Maine Maritime possession, junior Garrett Stryzs (Wilmington, Del./Delaware Military Academy) picked off the pass to give Maritime the ball with 12 seconds left. On the drive, Wright found senior Nick Fischetti (Seaford, N.Y./Seaford) for a 67-yard score, but the play was called back, to take the points off the board due to the penalty.
The game moved into the third quarter with Maritime gaining possession. Price got the drive off on the right foot after a 23-yard kickoff return.
On the drive, Torelli carried the ball five times before Maritime went to the air as Wright found Short for the first time on the game to put the Privateer up by eight at 14-6. Maine Maritime put together a long drive of 60 yards on 14 plays, resulting in a touchdown and successful two-point conversion to even the game at 14 apiece.
To start the fourth quarter, Maine Maritime found the endzone on its first two tries and opened up a 28-14 lead as Maritime got the ball back with 6:19 left in regulation.
Needing to move quickly and efficiently, Wright took over and rushed for 42 yards over the span of two plays to set up first and goal on the Mariner seven-yard line. Wright finished what he started and darted into the endzone for the score. Murphy's extra point made it 28-21.
On the kickoff, the special team's coverage did its job as Murphy's kickoff was downed at the one yard line. The defense came up big as Conte, Wallace, Price as well as junior Paul LaMarca (Franklin Square, N.Y./Holy Trinity) and sophomore Payton Campbell (Rockaway, N.J./Morris Knolls) came up with the stops needed to force a Mariner punt.
Taking over at their own 26-yard line, Maritime opened up the drive with a pair of first down throws to Ward. Maine Maritime was called for a defensive hold, leading to another first down before Wright connected with Castle for the fourth first down of the series. The big blow came on a 2nd-and-18 scenario as Wright found Short for 28 yards to tie the game at 28.
The Mariners had a chance to score with 1:54 left, but were eventually called for a delay of game call to set them up facing a 2nd-and-15 situation with four seconds left. On the final play of regulation, the Mariners opted to go for the touchdown as the Mariners threw to the endzone, only to be picked off by Conte.
In overtime, Maritime handed the rock to McKinney twice for 15 yards, then gave the ball to Torelli, who darted into the endzone for two yards to put the Privateers up for good.
On the last series, the Mariners picked up a first down on a 10-yard run. On the next play, Conte dropped the runner in the backfield to set up 2nd-and-16, sophomore Jack Johnson (Farmingville, N.Y./Sachem East) and Wallace combined to stuff the runner and force third down. On the next play, Parker stepped in front and picked the ball off to seal the win for the Privateers.
Maritime (1-0) will look ahead to Mass. Maritime, coming up on Friday evening on Reinhart Field as the Buccaneers visit Throggs Neck for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Maine Maritime (0-1) will also take on Mass. Maritime in two weeks on September 17 for a 1 p.m. kickoff in Buzzards Bay, Mass.