SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Merrimack College football program gave the Division I Bryant University football program all it could handle in Saturday’s season opener, leading the Bulldogs by eight (28-20) through three quarters of play, but the hosts scored 29 fourth-quarter points to rally and win, 49-41, from Bulldog Stadium.
Score: Bryant 49, Merrimack 41
Records: Merrimack (0-1) | Bryant (1-0)
Location: Beirne Stadium | Smithfield, R.I.
- Bryant totaled 22 unanswered points over the first 7:17 of the fourth quarter to turn the tables on Merrimack’s upset bid. The first two scores were of the passing variety, including a 57-yard go-ahead score on a play-action throw that made it a 35-28 contest
- Quarter 1 – Merrimack turned a pair of first-quarter turnovers into 14 points. An interception by redshirt-freshman Jake Ragusa (Canton, Mass.) led to the Warriors’ first score, a 26-yard touchdown strike from graduate student CJ Scarpa (Andover, Mass.) to sophomore Sebastian Lucas(Baltimore, Md.). Sophomore Michael Mercuri (Lowell, Mass.) then joined the pick party with eight minutes left in the quarter, and Merrimack drove the ball 52 yards ending with a rushing score from senior Derrick Villard (Cromwell, Conn.)
- Quarter 2 – Bryant scored 10 unanswered points, but an impressive 11-play, 69-yard scoring drive from the Warriors ensued that featured a fourth-down conversion inside the Bulldogs’ 10-yard line. Villard finished the driving, scoring for the second time on the day
- Quarter 3 – After a Bulldogs safety and Bryant driving into Navy and Gold territory on the ensuing possession, Merrimack forced another turnover. As they did in the opening frame, Merrimack marched 71 yards before Villard caught a swing pass from Scarpa and trotted three yards into the end zone to make it a 28-12 game
- Quarter 4 – In addition to the 57-yard score, Bryant’s first touchdown of the quarter was also through the air. The Northeast Conference representatives added a pair of rushing scores, as well. Merrimack scored twice and in the final frame via aerial scores to redshirt-senior Justin Mount (Westford, Mass.) and redshirt-junior Cody Demers (Dracut, Mass.)
Notes and Notables
- Scarpa’s 469 yards passing ranked higher than any of Merrimack’s single-game totals over the past two years. His Warriors’ debut featured the most yardage for a Merrimack quarterback since 2014, while his four scores equaled a third of his career total (12) while the signal caller for NE10 rival Bentley
- Merrimack’s receiving core featured a pair of 100-yard games, while Mount finished with 99. Demers led the way with 127 yards over 10 catches in his first game since 2015. Lucas snatched a career-high 11 balls for 110 yards
- Merrimack’s defense turned over Bryant five times – three via fumble recoveries along with a pair of interceptions
- Redshirt-sophomore Olan Abner (Dorchester, Mass.) led Merrimack’s defense with nine tackles, while redshirt-junior Gabe Dansereau (Montreal, Quebec) and freshman Mike Mulvena (Shrewsbury, Mass.) recorded the Warriors’ two sacks
- Saturday’s results marked the closest the Warriors have come to upsetting a Division I opponent since defeating Wagner, 42-41, to start the 2013 season
Merrimack stays on the road and opens up its NE10 slate when it visits American International College next Saturday (Sept. 9) for a 12 p.m. kickoff.