New Hampshire Football Report

Franklin Pierce loses opener

RINDGE – The Franklin Pierce University sprint football team held its own for a quarter and then some against Navy on Saturday afternoon, but the floodgates opened in the second quarter at Sodexo Field.

Navy piled up 24 second-quarter points and added 21 more in the second half, on the way to a 45-7 win in the Collegiate Sprint Football League opener for both teams. Junior quarterback Walt Fagan threw for 107 yards and four touchdowns to lead the way for the Midshipmen. The Ravens did themselves no favors on the afternoon, as Franklin Pierce turned the ball over six times and committed 16 penalties totaling 165 yards.

The Ravens will transition to Division II football and the Northeast-10 Conference in 2019.

Things looked promising enough off the start for Franklin Pierce. The Ravens overcame an early unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to force a Navy punt after two big sacks of Fagan on back-to-back plays. First, junior cornerback Vincent Hall provided one of the afternoon’s biggest hits, as he came off the edge and clobbered Fagan for a loss of six. Senior defensive back Trevon Gray and senior defensive lineman Andrew Pelkey then teamed to chase down Fagan for a loss of 12 on third down.

After the punt, Franklin Pierce took over at its own 28-yard line and succeeded in moving the ball on its first drive of the season. After 10 plays, including a quartet of completions for sophomore quarterback Jared Lubas the Ravens moved the ball to the Navy 24. From there, a pass-interference penalty would set the Ravens up with first-and-goal at the 9-yard line, but then the drive would stall out. Back-to-back holding penalties made it first-and-goal from the 29, at which point Lubas took a shot for the end zone, but was intercepted by Navy freshman defensive back Adam Weissenfels.

Franklin Pierce could not get out of its own way in the second quarter. The Ravens recovered a fumble off of a muffed punt, which set up first-and-10 at the Navy 16, but then junior running back Kobie Smith fumbled the ball away on the very next play. Navy then used a 10-play, 84-yard drive, including a 34-yard rush from sophomore quarterback Braydan Chmiel on third-and-8, to set up the game’s opening score. Junior kicker Jared Swenson converted on a 29-yard field goal to give the Midshipmen a 3-0 lead.

Freshman wide receiver Trajan Johnson muffed the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by Navy to set up first-and-goal at the 8-yard line. This time the scoring drive needed just one play, as Fagan found junior tight end Jay Cooke in the end zone to push the lead out to 10-0 following the point-after.

Franklin Pierce then went three-and-out, before Navy put together a seven-play, 40-yard drive, which ended with a two-yard touchdown plunge by junior running back Caleb Champion. A botched snap on the second play of the next drive turned the ball over again, and Navy capitalized by going 61 yards in eight plays, capped by a five-yard pass from Fagan to Cooke for the score, as Navy took a 24-0 lead into halftime.

The Midshipmen added a 36-yard touchdown pass from Fagan to junior wide receiver Jared Wiltshire and a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore defensive back Grant Hooper in the third quarter to push the lead all the way out to 38-0.

Franklin Pierce’s lone score of the day came on a highlight-reel play. Freshman quarterback Dylan McDermott bounced outside, got loose down the left sideline and took the ball 75 yards to the house late in the third quarter to cut the lead to 38-7. Navy capped the scoring in the fourth quarter with a one-yard touchdown pass from Fagan to senior tight end Dane Livengood.

McDermott finished with 71 yards on five carries (14.2 yards/carry) to stand as Franklin Pierce’s leading rusher. Smith added 12 carries for 40 yards (3.3 yards/carry). Lubas went 10-for-20 through the air for 115 yards, but was intercepted three times and sacked twice. Sophomore wide receiver Tionne Brown hauled in a game-best four receptions for 62 yards.

Defensively, freshman defensive back Ashton Moore, junior defensive back Matthew LoPresti and freshman linebacker Brayden Lowery collected seven tackles apiece to lead the way for the Ravens. Sophomore defensive back Tyreek Rodrigues recorded an interception, which he returned 31 yards.

For Navy, Champion ran for 67 yards and a score on 16 carries (4.2 yards/carry), while Chmiel added 57 yards on five rushes (11.4 yards/carry). Fagan went 11-for-19 passing for 107 yards and four touchdowns. Four Navy receivers finished with two catches each, led by sophomore Eric Spicer, who recorded 27 receiving yards.

Defensively for the Midshipmen, senior linebacker Dean Rye chalked up seven tackles (four solo) to lead the way. Junior linebacker Troy Monroe collected four tackles for loss, including two sacks, while Hooper had the aforementioned 41-yard interception return for a touchdown.

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