After getting back in the win column with a gritty road win at Bentley last weekend, the Merrimack College football team returns home to meet Northeast-10 Conference foe Assumption in its annual Homecoming Weekend matchup on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Date/Time: Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 | 1 p.m.
Records: Merrimack (3-3, 3-2 NE-10) | Assumption (3-3, 3-2 NE-10)
Location: Martone-Mejail Field | North Andover, Mass.
Last Time Out:
Leading by three with less than two minutes to play, the Merrimack College football team put the game in the hands of its defense and benefitted from doing so, as first-year sophomore Devonte Jones (Baltimore, Md.) picked off Bentley quarterback Dan Guadagnoli for his third interception of the season, propelling the Warriors to a wild 28-25 road win over the Falcons on a rainy Saturday in Waltham.
Playing in non-ideal conditions while battling the wind and rain, both sides gritted through a first half that featured only 17 points and saw the Falcons carry a 10-7 lead into the locker room.
Merrimack needed just over four minutes to go back on top after senior Luke Bakanowsky matriculated his team downfield in only five plays and put the visitors on top, 14-10, early in the third quarter. Bentley responded with a clock-eating, 13-yard drive that ended with Guadagnoli finding Matt Guay for an 11-yard touchdown pass and catch, and on the Warriors’ next drive, the Falcons took the ball right back thanks to one of their three interceptions of the day.
Merrimack would get the ball back and used two quick strikes to pick up a first down before one of the more important plays of the game, as the Bakanowsky hooked up with classmate Steven Browne for a 61-yard pass, and just five plays and 1:20 later, the Warriors found themselves on top by a 21-17 margin thanks to those heroics.
After Merrimack’s defense stuffed the Falcons’ offense for the third straight drive, first-year sophomore quarterback Nick Laspada was forced into the game after an injury to Bakanowsky. The rookie used a 19-yard rush while junior tailback Armond McRae helped the cause with a 24-yard scamper to get the Warriors into the red zone. Finally, Laspada capped the drive off with a six-yard touchdown pass to junior Jere Brown for what ultimately was the game-winning score.
With Merrimack up by two possessions, Bentley was quick to respond with only 3:24 to play, using a 66-yard touchdown pass and catch and a two-point conversion to make it a three-point game. Bentley would get the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead on the last drive of the game, but Guadagnoli was hurried into two incomplete passes before moving the chains on a 3rd and 10. Following two more incompletions and with only 1:21 left, Guadagnoli forced up a pass that Jones ultimately came away with, as his third interception of the year sealed the win.
Inside The Series:
Merrimack and Assumption will be meeting for the 20th time on Saturday in a series that dates back to the Warriors’ inaugural season in 1996, representing the Warriors’ second-longest rivalry behind only Bentley. Merrimack holds a decisive edge in that all-time series with 15 wins in the 19 previous tries, including last year’s 31-21 road win and a thrilling 43-40 win on Homecoming Weekend two years ago. Merrimack’s last loss to Assumption came on the road in 2011 (44-24); the Warriors have never lost at home against the Greyhounds.
Sitting in a tie with Merrimack for fourth place in the conference standings, Assumption enters Saturday 3-3 overall thanks to back-to-back wins over the last two weeks, including a 13-12 road victory at SCSU before cruising against Pace, 52-0, last Friday
The Greyhounds have been a balanced squad that features the sixth-ranked scoring offense in the conference (25.8) and the third-best scoring defense (21.8)
The Hounds boast one of the league’s premiere rushing offenses, averaging 161.5 yards on the ground per game (2nd/NE-10)
Assumption also is impressive in the trenches on defense as indicative by its league-leading 17 sacks, seven of which have come from Derrick Mann
Trevor Vasey ranks fourth in the league with nine touchdown passes and has completed just under 50 percent (49.4%) of his passes while tossing seven picks.