BROOKVILLE, N.Y. – Behind a school-record tying performance from the Merrimack College football team’s defense that featured 10 sacks, the Warriors topped Long Island University, 24-10, Saturday down at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium in the program’s season finale. Merrimack improved its record to 6-5 while LIU dropped to 0-10 on the year.
The Warriors tied their program record for sacks in a single game, equaling performances from the 2011 and 2003 seasons. Sophomore Cory Hagerman led the charge with a career-high four sacks, which also equaled the program’s single-game record; Brett Harrington posted four sacks in 2015 while Matt Mikaitis also notched four in 2003.
Merrimack scored the first 17 points of the game and held a 17-0 lead at halftime, an advantage they never relinquished. Sophomore quarterback Christian Carter threw touchdown passes to redshirt-sophomore Anthony Dandini and sophomore Johnny Rosario in the first half, while redshirt-sophomore running back Jamari Venter ran for a score in the fourth quarter that turned a 17-10 game into a two-touchdown contest.
Score: Merrimack 24, LIU 10
Records: Merrimack (6-5) | LIU (0-10)
Location: Brookville, N.Y. | Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium
How It Happened
- After three punts to start the game, Merrimack’s offense scored first. After only a 26-yard punt from the Sharks, redshirt-senior Marquis Spence took a ball and returned it 16 yards to give Merrimack excellent field position at Long Island’s 22-yard line. Venter converted a third-and-1 that put Merrimack in a goal-to-go situation, which the Warriors converted via Carter’s seven-yard strike to Dandini
- Graduate student Corey Resendes kicked a 36-yard field goal towards the end of the first quarter to put Merrimack up 10-0. Neither team scored over the first eight-plus minutes of the second quarter before Merrimack marched 70 yards for a 12-play scoring drive. Sophomore Matt Brehon rushed for 34 yards over three carries – including a 24-yard scamper – to bring Merrimack in LIU territory. Later in the drive and with a second-and-goal, Carter connected with Rosario for a nine-yard score to make it a 17-0 game. Fittingly, Hagerman ended the half with a sack to maintain the shutout through two quarters
- Merrimack’s defense put up its scoreless effort for another full quarter; the Warriors recorded two more sacks in the third while junior Caleb Holden notched an interception to keep things at 17-0 entering the fourth
- The Sharks scored their lone touchdown of the day on the fourth quarter’s first play, and then kicked a field goal on their ensuing possession to make it a one-possession game, 17-10, with under seven minutes to play.
- Merrimack’s special teams made sure the LIU’s comeback ended there. Sophomore Rodney Samson returned the kickoff following LIU’s scoring drive 73 yards to put Merrimack within eight yards of the end zone. Two plays later, Venter rushed in for an eight-yard score to give Merrimack its two-possession lead back
- The Warriors’ defense ended on a high note, recording three sacks on following drive for the hosts, including a strip sack on a fourth-and-12 play that saw sophomore Cam Tillman force the fumble and redshirt-junior Jake Ragusa recover the loose ball
- Hagerman’s four-sack performance increased his career-high to 9.5, which leads the team. He entered the day ranking fifth in the Northeast Conference (NEC) in sacks, and Saturday’s performance vaulted him into a tie for first pending the completion of games around the league. His performance also gave him a new career high with 11 tackles
- Holden’s interception moved him in first on the team with four picks on the year. He finished the night with four tackles as well
- Redshirt-junior Michael Mercuri totaled a team-high 12 tackles, 11 of which were of the solo variety
- Other defensive notables included graduate student Gabe Dansereau who totaled three tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Freshman defensive end Nicholas Lenon notched a pair of sacks
- Carter finished the day with 129 yards on 15 completions to bring his passing yards total on the year to 2,095, he first career 2,000-yard season. The signal caller’s two touchdown passes gave him 15 on the year, tying his total from freshman year
Notes & Numbers
- The Warriors won their first game at LIU since 2013 and posted the program’s second-win ever in Brookville. The Warriors and Sharks are familiar opponents, dating back to their history in the Northeast-10 Conference
- Merrimack’s defense entered Saturday ranking third in the NEC with 26 sacks, and Saturday’s effort moved the team into first across the league with 36 sacks
- The Warriors didn’t allow LIU to get anything going on the ground. The Sharks finished with negative rushing yardage on the day (-12).
- Merrimack forced LIU off the field 11 times on third down. The Warriors were also efficient in the red zone, converted 4-of-5 chances