Springfield had USMMA on the ropes after the Mariners’ sluggish first half Saturday. Struggling to put drives together, USMMA stumbled until breaking through in the second half.
Gavin Gartner’s 22-yard field goal with 13:04 remaining in the fourth quarter and a fourth-down stand five minutes later helped the Mariners seal a 17-14 win over defending NEWMAC champion Springfield (Mass.). USMMA improved to 3-1 in conference.
Trailing 14-6 at halftime, USMMA needed a spark from quarterback Krystian Abbott. He capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 4-yard rushing touchdown with 3:00 left in the third quarter. Abbott’s 2-point conversion run tied the game at 14.
The defense forced a Springfield punt on its next possession, setting up the drive that produced Gartner’s game-winning field goal.
Springfield threatened with under 10 minutes left in the game after Nick Giorgio forced Abbott to fumble. Sam Greenfield’s recovery set up Springfield with a short field from its own 45-yard line.
On fourth-and-4 from USMMA’s 29-yard line, Springfield elected to pass on what would have been a 46-yard field goal attempt. Hunter Belzo was instead sacked for a 7-yard loss, giving USMMA the ball at its 36-yard line.
USMMA’s ensuing drive went for 56 yards on 17 plays, spanning 8:05, but ended when Abbott lost another fumble on Springfield’s 8-yard line. But Springfield had just 7 seconds remaining, and the defense shut it down from there.
Abbott completed 12 of 19 passes for 172 yards and accumulated 25 yards on the ground. The Mariners totaled 149 rushing yards as a team but averaged just 2.7 yards per carry. Joe Vitelli caught eight passes for 128 yards.
Jake Wallace led the defense with 11 tackles, while Eric Davidson and Brian Harris each added 10.