Courtesy of Merrimack Athletics
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - Greg Abelli totaled 182 receiving yards in the first half, while Shawn Loiseau was everywhere defensively as Merrimack cruised to a 52-14 victory over Saint Anselm in the home opener Saturday afternoon at Warrior Field.
Abelli wasted no time as he got the Warriors on the board with a 67-yard touchdown reception midway through the first quarter.
After the Hawks grabbed the 14-7 lead at the end of the first, Merrimack rattled off five straight second quarter touchdowns.
Justin Marsan (Methuen, MA) picked off his third pass of the season, and James Suozzo (Everett, MA) rushed into the end zone from 17 yards out to tie the game at fourteen. On the ensuing Hawk drive, Loiseau ended the day for injured quarterback Michael Pierce, sacking the sophomore and forcing a fumble with Ryan McCarthy (Newton, MA) jumping on it. Anthony Smalls (Dorchester, MA) scampered in from there on the next play from 10-yards out, giving the hosts a lead they would not relinquish.
With Pierce out, Saint Anselm (1-4, 1-2 NE-10) struggled to move the ball with Tyrae Woodson-Samuels, Gene Cellini and Marc Wilson all seeing time at quarterback.
With the Hawks punting on fourth down on the next drive, Tony Johnson (Lynn, MA) blocked the punt, and it was recovered in the end zone by Ethan Weaver (Brooklyn, CT) for his first career touchdown. Merrimack concluded the second quarter with a pair of long touchdown passes on third downs as Suozzo hit Abelli for a 36-yard score and Isaiah Voegeli (Hyannis, MA) for a 45-yard score to take a 42-14 halftime lead.
They cruised from there in the second half, picking up 10 third quarter points on a Greg Molloy (Newmarket, NH) field goal and a rushing score from Smalls, his second of the game.
Suozzo finished with 264 passing yards on 11-of-24 passing with three touchdowns in three quarters of action, while Abelli, who was over 100-yards receiving in the first quarter for the third straight week, finished with 182 receiving yards and two scores. Smalls totaled ## yards and two scores on the ground, his first game of the season over the century mark as the top-ranked offense in the conference racked up 475 yards.
Loiseau, who entered Saturdayâ€™s game second in the conference in tackles per game, led the way defensively with 18 tackles, including 14 in the first half, to go with 1.5 sacks and three hurries. McCarthy had another strong day, recovering a fumble and intercepting a pass in the fourth quarter. The Warriors forced three turnovers, picking up a special teams score for the second straight week, while allowing just 43 rushing yards on 34 carries.
Merrimack (2-2, 2-0 NE-10) visits Bentley University Friday night at 7 p.m. for a showdown with the Falcons.