Game Recap: Football |
BETHELEM, Pa. – The Merrimack College football program came within seven points of recording its first-ever win over a NCAA FCS opponent in its inaugural FCS season on Saturday, falling to Lehigh University, 10-3, in a Saturday afternoon tilt played at the Mountain Hawks’ Goodman Stadium.
The Warriors’ defense starred on Saturday, recording four interceptions on the day to keep Lehigh off the scoreboard until the third quarter. On the other side of the ball, Merrimack’s redshirt-senior wide receiver Marquis Spence caught a career-high 16 receptions against the Mountain Hawks, which marked the fourth highest single-game total in school history.
Merrimack’s record fell to 2-3 through five games. The Warriors’ next contest will be this upcoming Saturday, when the Warriors welcome Bryant University to campus for a 1 p.m. kickoff as part of Homecoming Weekend, presented by Dunkin’.
Score: Lehigh 10, Merrimack 3
Records: Merrimack (2-3) | Lehigh (1-3)
Location: Goodman Stadium | Bethlehem, Pa.
Time of Game: 2:35
How It Happened
- Merrimack’s defense immediately showed up to play, stopping Lehigh on a fourth-and-one to start the day. Redshirt-junior Michael Mercuri registered the tackle that created the turnover-on-downs
- Two of Merrimack’s four interceptions occurred in the opening 15 minutes; redshirt-sophomores Darion McKenzie and Daekwon Shepherd each notched interceptions in the frame
- Merrimack cracked the scoreboard in the second quarter. Starting a drive on its own 26-yard line, the Warriors quickly moved down the field. Sophomore quarterback Christian Carter connected with Spence for a 62-yard completion that put the Warriors within eight yards of scoring. Lehigh’s defense held, however, as graduate student Corey Resendes kicked a 25-yard field goal to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead
- After Lehigh used a takeaway of its own to start a drive in Merrimack territory, sophomore Rodney Samson intercepted a pass of his own two plays later to end the hosts’ drive. The turnover allowed Merrimack to maintain its three-point lead at halftime
- Lehigh’s first drive of the second half went as far as the Merrimack 15-yard line. Junior Caleb Holden ended the threatening situation, intercepting a third-and-14 throw near the goalline to get Merrimack the ball back. Later in the quarter, Lehigh was able to kick a field goal to tie the game entering the fourth
- The hosts scored the game’s only touchdown early in the fourth quarter, taking a 10-3 lead. Merrimack’s next drive saw the Warriors convert two third downs, but were forced to punt.
- The team’s final drive saw Merrimack nearly convert a game-tying drive. Graduate student Cam Hayes impressively converted a third-and-26, finding junior Bubba Shkliew for a 39-yard conversion that moved the Warriors into Lehigh territory. Merrimack reached as far as the red zone, but Lehigh was able to end the drive to close out the game
- Spence’s effort headlined the offense as he continued his career season; through five games, he already needs just nine more catches and one touchdown to set a new career high. He finished Saturday with a career-best 175 receiving yards
- Carter finished the day with 29 completions on 49 attempts, throwing for 272 yards on the day. Hayes added 56 yards as the team threw for 328 yards overall
- In addition to Spence, sophomore Johnny Rosario added a solid day with eight catches for 66 yards
- Holden, Mckenzie, Samson and Shepherd each recorded one interception on the day. The team has 10 INTs through five weeks
- Three different Warriors notched sacks on the day; Mercuri led the way with six total tackles including five of the solo variety
- Redshirt junior Jake Ragusa had his best game of the season, posting a team-high 3.5 tackles-for-loss
Notes & Numbers
- Spence’s 16 receptions were the most for a Warrior since 2012, and just the fourth-ever game of at least 16 catches in Merrimack’s history
- With four interceptions, the Warriors picked off at least four passes for just the ninth time in school history
- Saturday marked the first ever game between Merrimack and Mayville State
Merrimack faces Bryant on Saturday on Homecoming Weekend at Duane Stadium, hosting the Bulldogs in a game presented by Dunkin’. The contest is slated to kickoff at 1 p.m.