Home Football Merrimack releases inaugural Division I FCS football schedule

Merrimack releases inaugural Division I FCS football schedule

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photo: Merrimack Athletics

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College football team has announced its full 2019 schedule, which will be its first while reclassifying to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) ranks and as a member of the Northeast Conference (NEC).

Merrimack’s 11-game slate will include five home games at Duane Stadium and will span five different Division I conferences. Eight of the 11 opponents will be first-time matchups for the Warriors, who will usher in their 24th season in school history at home on Aug. 31 under the lights at Duane Stadium.

“I am extremely excited for our players and our staff to be entering our first year reclassifying to the the Division I level and as a member of the Northeast Conference,” head coach Dan Curran said. “In addition to our NEC slate of games, we will have a very competitive out-of-conference schedule, as well, with opponents from the CAA, Big South, Patriot League, and the MEAC. The 2019 schedule will certainly be the most difficult schedule in program history, and I know I speak on behalf of the entire program when I say that we are looking forward to the challenge.”

The 2019 campaign commences against Virginia University of Lynchburg on Saturday, Aug. 31, under the lights at Duane Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff. A member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), VUL has been aggressive with its scheduling over the past few years and played four Division I FCS opponents in 2018 alone, including Bethune Cookman, Charleston Southern, Hampton and Delaware State. The Dragons are a young program on the rise and will be a strong first test for the Warriors’ inaugural game of the Division I era.

Merrimack will then make more history when it travels to its first NEC foe of the fall a week later when the Warriors head to New Britain, Connecticut, to take on Central Connecticut State. A traditional NEC power, the Blue Devils last won the league title in 2017 and have done so five times overall. Merrimack and CCSU will kick off at 6 p.m. on that Saturday, Sept. 7, matchup.

The Warriors will stay on the road a week later to face first-time NEC foe Saint Francis University out in Loretto, Pennsylvania. The Red Flash, who won a share of the league title in 2016, return one of the top defenses in the country at the FCS level. The two sides meet on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Merrimack returns home for its first-ever matchup with Mayville State the following Saturday. A member of the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the Comets will take on the Warriors on Sept. 21 at 1 p.m.

The Warriors hit the road to face Lehigh for both sides’ inaugural meeting a week later to close out September. The Mountain Hawks are a member of the Patriot League and are annual contenders in the conference having won the league title 12 times, most recently in 2016 and 2017. Merrimack will make its first-ever appearance at historic Goodman Stadium on Sept. 28.

Merrimack will restore its old rivalry with former Northeast-10 Conference constituent Bryant University on Saturday, Oct. 5. The Warriors and Bulldogs have met five times since the latter elevated to the Division I level in 2008 but built a fierce rivalry back when both played in the NE10 up until 2007, which was also the last time that Merrimack welcomed Bryant to campus.

Following a bye week, Merrimack hits the road for another first-time bout against Delaware State, a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 2 p.m. The Warriors then head back home to welcome Big South Conference member Presbyterian for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Duane Stadium to close out the month on Oct. 26.

Turning the page to November, Merrimack will face one of its biggest challenges of the year when they travel to Kingston, Rhode Island, for the second-ever meeting against the University of Rhode Island and first since 2006. The Rams, who play in arguably the strongest FCS conference in the country (Colonial Athletic Association), are coming off one of their best seasons in recent program history, ranking as high as 15th in the country after defining wins over the likes of Delaware, Harvard, New Hampshire and William & Mary. Merrimack will make the trek to Meade Stadium on Nov. 2.

The Warriors will break again for a week before closing the home portion of their 2019 schedule against Franklin Pierce, which will elevate its sprint football program and play a full NE10/Division II schedule next fall. The Warriors and Ravens will meet for the first time on Senior Day on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 1 p.m.

Finally, Merrimack will conclude 2019 against a familiar foe and former NE10 rival when it heads down to Long Island to take on LIU on Nov. 23 at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium. The all-time series has been fiercely contested in recent years, with Merrimack winning close contests in 2013 and 2014 before the Pioneers came out on top in each of the last four meetings since then. Long Island joined Merrimack as the NEC’s newest football member after announcing a merger between LIU Brooklyn and LIU Post last fall into one unified Division I athletic department.

Ticket information for the 2019 season, including season ticket and parking plans, will be released in the near future.

2019 Merrimack Football Schedule

Aug. 31 — vs. Virginia University of Lynchburg (NCCAA)
Sept. 7 — at Central Connecticut State (NEC)
Sept. 14 — at Saint Francis Pa. (NEC)
Sept. 21 — vs. Mayville State (NAIA)
Sept. 28 — at Lehigh (Patriot League)
Oct. 5 — vs. Bryant (NEC)
Oct. 12 — Open
Oct. 19 — at Delaware State (MEAC)
Oct. 26 — vs. Presbyterian (Big South)
Nov. 2 — at Rhode Island (CAA)
Nov. 9 — Open
Nov. 16 — vs. Franklin Pierce (NE10, D2)
Nov. 23 — at LIU Post (NEC)

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