SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – A record-setting performance by sophomore wide receiver Sebastian Lucas (Baltimore, Md.) and a stellar showing by the defense powered the Merrimack College football team to a 31-21 road win over American International College on Saturday afternoon at Abdow Field. Both teams were playing their first Northeast-10 Conference games of the season.
Score: Merrimack 31, AIC 21
Records: Merrimack (1-1, 1-0 NE10) | AIC (0-2, 0-1 NE10)
Location: Abdow Field | Springfield, Mass.
What They Said
Head Coach Dan Curran: “This was a complete team win today in all three phases of the football. We faced a great deal of adversity today and yet our players didn’t flinch. Despite a number of injuries on both sides of the ball from both last week and then early in today’s game, so many other players that were forced to set up did so today. We’re extremely proud of the effort and resolve the team played with all game long. We have a big conference game next week, so we need to regroup and try and get as healthy as possible for a very tough Bentley team that will be coming to our place next Saturday.”
- Trailing by seven midway through the second quarter, Lucas hauled in the first of his two touchdowns – a 64-yard reception – to draw Merrimack even, and then Merrimack went ahead for good on one of redshirt senior Justin Mount‘s (Westford, Mass.) two touchdowns of the afternoon.
- Merrimack took advantage of an AIC fumble early in the second half and needed only one play to up its lead to 14 after Mount hauled in another catch in the end zone from graduate student CJ Scarpa Andover, Mass.).
- Late in the third quarter, after AIC answered and got back to within seven points, the Yellow Jackets had multiple opportunities to tie the game. The hosts started one drive at midfield following an interception, but the defense forced a three-and-out. That was the first of four straight AIC possessions that ended in either punts or interceptions, with the last drive getting as close as the Merrimack 25 before sophomore Robert Hulse‘s (Middletown, N.J.) first career interception.
- Despite being pinned back at their own three, Merrimack iced the game after Lucas’ incredible 97-yard touchdown from Scarpa. The sophomore made the catch in stride before maneuvering around two defensive backs in the secondary on the way to his longest-career touchdown catch.
- Quarter 1 – AIC opened the game’s scoring on its second drive of the game, as a busted play allowed Samad Davila to find the end zone from 61 yards out and give the Yellow Jackets an early 7-0 lead. Merrimack’s most promising drive of the quarter ended with an interception at the AIC 19, while the Warriors were forced to punt on their other three offensive possessions.
- Quarter 2 – As the Merrimack defense wreaked havoc on AIC’s line, totaling three of their five sacks in the second frame, the offense got rolling after Lucas took a Scarpa pass in from 64 yards out to tie the game with 7:58 on the clock. Then, after the defense forced a three-and-out late in the half to get the ball back in Scarpa’s hands, Merrimack needed only five plays to go 64 yards in 1:32 before Scarpa found Mount for the first time with 0:55 left in the half and send the Warriors into the break ahead by seven.
- Quarter 3 – AIC botched the snap on a punt after its first possession of the third quarter, giving the Warriors the ball deep in AIC territory. One 15-yard penalty later, Merrimack had the ball at the AIC 10 and Scarpa thread another scoring strike to Mount to give the Warriors a 14-point lead (21-7). AIC quickly answered with a 90-yard scoring drive, and then the hosts had a chance to tie the game, but Merrimack’s defense effectively took over from there on out.
- Quarter 4 – Redshirt senior Stephen Camarro (North Reading, Mass.) restored Merrimack’s double-digit lead with a 36-yard field goal, but two possessions later AIC marched all the way down into Warrior territory looking to get back to within three. However, Hulse’s first career interception robbed the Yellow Jackets of that chance on a 4th & 7 from the 25, and then, two plays later, Scarpa connected with Lucas for the aforementioned 97-yard score that proved to be the back-breaker. The Yellow Jackets mustered one last score that benefitted from a Merrimack turnover, but the hosts got no closer than that.
Notes and Notables
- Lucas tied former All-American Isaiah Voegeli ’13 for the most receiving yards in a game in program history (269); Voegeli accomplished that feat in a victory over Saint Anselm on Oct. 20, 2012). Lucas also set a new career-high with his two receiving touchdowns, while Mount tied his single-game best with his pair of scores.
- Redshirt senior Tyree Holmes (Capitol Heights, Md.) was one of many stars on defense, but Holmes’ day was particularly special after finishing with a career-high 14 tackles, with 2-1/2 going for losses totaling 13 yards, as well as a sack and a pass breakup.
- Redshirt freshman Jake Ragusa (Canton, Mass.) was credited with the first two sacks of his collegiate career and also had eight tackles, while Hulse’s first career interception was complimented by two additional pass breakups.
- The Merrimack defense held AIC to under 300 yards and kept the Yellow Jackets to just 3-of-15 (20%) on third-down conversions.
- Scarpa had another strong day under center, tossing for four touchdowns for the second straight week to up his season total to eight; he also tossed for 381 yards and completed 22-of-36 passes.
Merrimack heads home for the first time this season next Saturday when it hosts Bentley for a Saturday (Sept. 16) afternoon showdown. Kickoff from Martone-Mejail Field is set for 1 p.m.