NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College football team compiled a season-high 193 yards rushing and found itself tied with Stonehill early in the second quarter, but the visiting Skyhawks scored the final 24 points of the game to hand the Warriors a 45-21 setback in Northeast-10 Conference action on Saturday at Martone-Mejail Field.
Links: Box Score // Highlights
Score: Stonehill 45, Merrimack 21
Records: Merrimack (1-4, 1-3 NE10) | Stonehill (3-2, 2-2 NE10)
Location: Martone-Mejail Field | North Andover, Mass.
- After giving up the first score of the game on an interception return, Merrimack bounced right back with a 41-yard rushing touchdown by senior Derrick Villard (Cromwell, Conn.), setting the tone for the big day that the rushing unit would enjoy to tie things up early in the first quarter.
- Merrimack answered another Stonehill touchdown with a seven-yard receiving touchdown by redshirt junior Cody Demers (Dracut, Mass.), and then rookie Rodney Samson (Peekskill, N.Y.) broke the threshold from eight yards out early in the second quarter for his first career touchdown to even the game at 21-all.
- Stonehill would hit a 43-yard field goal to retake the lead for good, benefitted from a miscue on a punt to score from short field position and then added one last touchdown late in the half to take a 17-point lead.
- Quarter 1 – An early 42-yard interception return on Merrimack’s first drive of the game gave Stonehill its first touchdown. Merrimack responded quickly to tie the game at 7-7, as Villard found a seam and went untouched 41 yards to tie the contest. The Skyhawks went 90 yards on their ensuing kickoff return to set up their second score, as they found the end zone three players later to go back up by seven. The back-and-forth opening frame continued after Merrimack went 95 yards over 10 plays, with Demers taking a short pass from graduate student CJ Scarpa(Andover, Mass.) to tie things up again at 14-14.
- Quarter 2 – The Skyhawks went back in front, 21-14, after going 75 yards over 17 plays early in the second, but the Warrior rushing attack used a few big plays to set up their third touchdown of the night. Samson capped off the six-play, 66-yard sequence with his first score as a Warrior to knot the contest at 21-21. Stonehill, however, took the lead on a 47-yard field goal, and Merrimack went three-and-out on its next drive before a miscue on the punt gave the Skyhawks the ball deep in Merrimack territory. The visitors would need just one play to find the end zone and then scored with only 31 seconds left in the half to extend their lead to 38-21.
- Quarter 3 – After both sides combined for 59 points in the first half, Merrimack’s offense was kept in check in all three possessions it had in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Skyhawks used a 59-yard drive, capped off by a 27-yard pass from Matt Foltz to Andrew Jamiel, to push their lead to a 45-21 margin.
- Quarter 4 – Neither side scored in the fourth quarter, with Merrimack’s closest opportunity ending on an interception in Stonehill territory.
Notes and Notables
- Merrimack eclipsed the century mark rushing for the first time this season and nearly put up 200 after grinding out 193 yards on the ground. The two rushing scores also marked their season high set earlier against Bryant in the season opener.
- Villard finished with a career-high 166 yards on 18 carries, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.
- Demers had three productive kickoff returns, averaging over 25 per carry.
- Redshirt freshman Jake Ragusa (Canton, Mass.) and senior Thomas Kinton (York, Maine) both had double-digit figures with 13 and 11 tackles, respectively, while redshirt sophomore Damion Wood (Randolph, Mass.) had two pass breakups.
Merrimack’s bye week falls next Saturday, after which the Warriors will usher in a new era in school history with the first-ever game played at Warrior Stadium against Pace as part of Homecoming Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 14. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.