The Hobart football team remained unbeaten, scoring the first six touchdowns of the game to cruise to a 42-14 win over Liberty League rival Merchant Marine on Boswell Field for a Homecoming victory. Junior quarterback Nick Strang directed a balanced Statesmen attack, throwing for 226 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 30 yards and another TD, all in the first half.
Strang completed 63 percent (12-19) of his passes, spreading the ball around to seven different receivers. Senior Garth Muratori led the way with four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. First-year Elvin Souffrant caught three passes for a team-high 66 yards. On the ground, Hobart gave the ball to 11 different players with sophomore Steven Webb gaining a team-high 43 yards on 12 carries.
While the offense was very balanced, the Statesmen defense got huge games from linebackers Reggie Robinson and Andrew Klindera. Robinson logged a game-high 14 stops, including 2.5 for a loss and the game’s only sack, while Klindera produced a career-high 11 tackles and forced and recovered a fumble.
The Mariners got most of their yardage in the fourth quarter (169 of 290 yards). Junior quarterback Alex Coviello ran for a game-high 105 yards and a touchdown and threw for 120 yards and another score. Sophomore wideout Chase Dunn made five receptions for 111 yards and a TD (3 for 76 in the fourth quarter). Senior linebacker Kevin Stapf registered a team-high 12 tackles.
Hobart’s offense looked a bit flat early in the game until a special teams play got the Statesmen in gear. The defense forced Merchant Marine to go three and out on its first two drives. The second time, the long snap to punter Richard Grennan went off his hands and bounced around until Hobart senior Drake Woodard recovered the loose ball in the Mariners’ end zone for a touchdown.
The Statesmen reached the end zone on four of its five second quarter possessions while the Academy only ventured across midfield once in the frame, turning the ball over on downs at the Hobart 28.
Junior Bobby Dougherty (5 rush, 14 yds) scored the first offensive touchdown, a 3-yard plunge that capped an eight-play, 77-yard drive and gave the Statesmen a 14-0 lead at the 10:08 mark of the second. Strang did the honors from the same distance on Hobart’s next drive (6 plays, 46 yards) for a 21-0 lead at the 5:07 mark.
Two plays later, Klindera got the ball back for the offense forcing and recovering a fumble at the MMA 36. One play, 36 yards, and eight seconds later, Strang and junior wideout Junior Woodard teamed up for a 28-0 advantage at the 4:12 mark.
Hobart’s lone non-scoring drive of the quarter ended with an interception in Mariners’ territory, but the defense got the ball back with enough time for the offense to redeem itself. The Statesmen used just 28 seconds to run four plays and cover 41 yards. Muratori pulled in an 8-yard toss from Strang to cap the first half scoring
At halftime, Hobart (5-0, 3-0) had 17 first downs and 301 yards of offense (75r, 301p), while Merchant Marine (2-6, 1-3) managed just four first downs and 45 yards of offense (37r, 8p).
Whatever adjustments the Mariners made at halftime appeared to work, as the visitors marched down to the Hobart 1, but got called for a false start on third and goal. It was one of nine penalties (for 65 yards) committed by the Academy. The 5-yard march off was just the cushion the Statesmen needed as Klindera posted solo stops on the next two plays to keep Merchant Marine out of the end zone.
Junior quarterback Kelly Olney came on in relief and directed Hobart’s second 99-yard scoring drive of the season. He completed all four of his pass attempts, the last covering the final 3 yards to the end zone and the waiting hands of first-year Mike Berkowitz for the finishing touch on a 16-play march that ran 8:19 off the game clock.
The Statesmen will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 29, when they visit WPI (2-5, 1-3). Kickoff is scheduled for noon.