After dropping its first conference game of the season last weekend, Merrimack College returns home to open October against unbeaten Saint Anselm College in a huge Northeast-10 Conference matchup Saturday afternoon at Martone-Mejail Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Date/Time: Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 | 1 p.m.
Records: Merrimack (2-2, 2-1 NE-10) | St. Anselm (4-0, 3-0 NE-10)
Location: Martone-Mejail Field | North Andover, Mass.
Last Time Out: Stonehill 33, Merrimack 19
After its offense stalled with the score tied at 19-all, the Merrimack College football team punted it back to host Stonehill hoping the defense could muster one last stop late in regulation, but Nate Robitaille returned that punt 52 yards to the house for the game-deciding score, as the Skyhawks upended the Warriors, 33-19, on Saturday night at W.B. Mason Stadium.
After tying the game midway through the fourth, Merrimack got the ball back at its own 20-yard line but wasn’t able to do much, and with the score still even, the Warriors punted it back to Stonehill with 2:15 to play.
With the way both defenses had been playing, there was certainly a chance that Merrimack would have that chance to tie the game on its very next possession.
But sure enough, it was a special teams play that decided the games, as Robitaille took care of things himself, busting through the left seam, making a move around a pair of defenders before finding daylight down the left sideline, taking it in from 52 yards out to send the Skyhawks to victory.
Suddenly trailing, the Warriors got the ball back pinned back deep needing to move the chains quickly to respond, but Stonehill’s defense – one of the league’s best – answered when it needed to, as Merrimack turned the ball over on downs to give it back to the hosts.
Once again, Stonehill needed just one play – this time on offense – as Colin Markus iced it with a 21-yard scoring dash on the very next play from scrimmage, accounting for the final margin of victory for the home side.
Inside The Series
Merrimack and Saint Anselm are squaring off for the 17th time in a series that dates back to 1999, which oddly enough was a 7-5 loss at home against for the Warriors against the Hawks.
Merrimack leads the series 12-4, with blowout wins in each of the last five meetings and has won the last six overall. Last year, the Warriors cruised to a 51-9 road win on Oct. 19 and have not lost at home against Saint A’s since a 48-42 decision back on Oct. 10, 2008. All-time at Martone-Mejail Field, Merrimack holds a 7-2 record in nine meetings in North Andover.
Off to its best start in school history, Saint Anselm rides into North Andover as the league’s last unbeaten team, as the Hawks have won all four of their contests to date and sit in a tie for first place with AIC atop the conference standings.
That win streak continued with a 52-26 Homecoming win against Pace last Saturday in Manchester, as sophomore quarterback Yianni Gavalas tossed for 415 yards to lead the high-powered Hawk offense (672 yards/total offense) to victory.
Saint Anselm averages a league-best 34.0 points per game on 476.5 yards of offense — also first
Gavalas ranks second in the league averaging 309.5 passing pards per game, while Elad Covaliu has rushed for five TDs on the ground.
Defensively, Saint A’s allows 25.5 PPG (5th/NE-10).
Mike McMahon covers Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report as well as on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN