NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After mounting its own 90-yard drive that brought the Merrimack College football team to within six points of host Southern Connecticut State heading to the fourth quarter, the hosts capitalized on a 98-yard scoring drive late in the fourth quarter to send the Owls to a 40-34 victory over the Warriors in a Northeast-10 Conference showdown on Friday night at Jess Dow Field.
Score: Merrimack 34 | Southern Connecticut State 40
Records: Merrimack (1-2, 0-2 NE-10) | SCSU (1-2, 1-1 NE-10)
Location: Jess Dow Field | New Haven, Conn.
How It Happened
After both sides matched touchdown for touchdown in the first half and entered the intermission all squared up at 21-21, Southern Connecticut went ahead by 12 (33-21) thanks to back-to-back scoring drives in the third quarter to push the home side ahead.
Merrimack, however, was far from out of it, as the high-octane Warrior offense went to business and capitalized on the final drive of the third quarter. It took 13 plays and spanned 92 yards, but at the end, it was senior Joe Clancy (Newburyport, Mass.) finding sophomore Jere Brown (Freeport, N.Y.) for the third time of the night on a one-yard strike that brought the Warriors to within 33-27.
Turning to the fourth quarter, each side had their opportunities, but both Southern Connecticut and Merrimack’s first drives of the final frame would result in punts.
That set up the game’s deciding sequence, as Southern Connecticut started from their own 2 yard line and embarked on a 13-play, 98-yard drive that lasted 6:40 and ended with Michael Johnson punching into the end zone for the Owls’ fourth rushing touchdown of the night, giving the hosts a 40-27 edge.
Still, Merrimack was far from out, as Clancy kept the game alive with a lightning-quick scoring drive that took only 50 seconds, as Merrimack capitalized on solid field position and needed only five plays before Clancy connected with classmate Shane Ferguson (Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.) for his fifth passing touchdown of the game, bringing the visitors to within six.
But on the last kickoff, Merrimack’s onside attempt was touched before going 10 yards, and SCSU would run out the clock from there on out to seal the decision.
What They Said
Head Coach Dan Curran: “Obviously it’s disappointing, for the second week in a row, to come up short in a game that we were in from start to finish. I thought we certainly had our chances and played well enough to win, but Southern Connecticut is a very good team, much better than their record indicated. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth and these kids once again left it all out there. Starting our league schedule with two losses hurts, but we still control plenty of our own fate and it starts again next Saturday when we finally play at home against a touch Pace squad.”
A Closer Look
- Brown and Clancy were at it again a week after the duo combined for nearly 250 yards; on Friday, Clancy and the sophomore wide receiver connected for three scores and 59 yards, while Ferguson led the way with 70 yards receiving
- Both Ferguson and Brown tied for the team lead with nine catches
- Freshman Justin Mount (Westford, Mass.) made it two weeks in a row with a receiving touchdown; the rookie finished with 53 yards receiving on just three catches
- Clancy finished 36-for-49 with five scores, 276 yards and his second interception of the season; the senior now has thrown for 15 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions
- Senior Quinn McDonough (Medford, Mass.) continued to tear up opposing special teams by racking up 171 yards on kick returns, averaging 49.0 yards over six returns
- SCSU’s Jacob Jablonski finished with 278 yards in the air, two scores and one pick, going 18-for-29 on the night
- The Owls’ rushed for 226 yards with John Moscatel (116) and Vaughn Moore (90) completing the two-headed tandem; the latter totaled three rushing touchdowns with Johnson tallying the other
- Gary Williams enjoyed a big night for the home side, hauling in 163 yards receiving on six catches and a score, averaging 27.2 yards per catch
- Sophomore Nick McDaniels (Boston, Mass.) tallied his first career interception to highlight the defensive showing; rookie Jared Mincey (Edison, N.J.) led Merrimack with nine tackles
- SCSU out-gained Merrimack by a 504-383 margin, including a 226-107 edge in rushing; it marked the first time in three games this season that a team had out-gained the Warriors in total offense
After starting the season with three road games, the Warriors will at long last take to their home turf when they welcome Pace University next Saturday (Sept. 28) afternoon. Kickoff from Martone-Mejail Field is set for 1 p.m.