Story and photo courtesy of Merrimack Athletics
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – With a balanced attack of 200 rushing yards and 274 passing yards, the Merrimack Warriors downed the Southern Connecticut State Owls by the score of 38-35 on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,384 people at Martone-Mejail Field. With the win, Merrimack improves to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in Northeast-10 action while the Owls falls to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
The Warriors dominated the third quarter as they outscored the Owls 17-0 to take control of the game.
Senior quarterback Joe Clancy (Newburyport, Mass.) continued his stellar play as he finished the game going 21-for-32 for 274 yards and two scoring strikes, both to All-American Isaiah Voegeli (Hyannis, Mass.). Voegeli finished the game with a team-high five catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns, one from 33 yards out and one from 23 yards out. Senior Jimon Hill (North Chicago, Ill.) broke the 100 yard plateau for the first time on the young season as he finished the game with 28 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown. Quinn McDonough (Medford, Mass.) finished off his impressive afternoon with seven carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns.
After the Owls recovered an onside kick off to start the game at the Warriors 30 yard line, Merrimack’s defense stood strong and forced a turnover on downs. The Warriors responded quickly with a touchdown after a nine play 81 yard drive was finished off by Hill from one yard out. The Warriors took the 7-0 lead with 11:12 remaining in the first quarter after a Nick Zwaan (Longmeadow, Mass.) extra point.
The Owls responded with 10 points of their own to take the 10-7 lead with 12:59 remaining in the first half but Clancy connected on a 33 yard touchdown with Voegeli to capture the lead back for Merrimack at 14-10.
Once again Southern Connecticut responded as they closed out the opening half with a 28 yard field goal by Devin Silverman and a 44 yard touchdown reception by John Moscatel, giving the Owls the 20-14 halftime lead.
Southern Connecticut opened the second half with the ball but the Merrimack defense came up huge as junior Ervin Johnson (Bradenton, FL) intercepted the Jacob Jablonski pass at the Merrimack 38 yard line and returned it 42 yards to the Owls 20 yard line before being taken down by his facemask. The Warriors were not able to punch the ball in, settling for a 21 yard Zwaan field goal, making the score 20-17 in favor of the visitors.
Merrimack took over the third quarter as they scored back-to-back touchdowns, a four yard rush by McDonough and a 23 yard reception by Voegeli, to take the 31-20 lead at the end of the third. The big play on the Voegeli touchdown drive came from defensive lineman Tom Geraghty (Westwood, Mass.) as he took the fake punt snap and scampered for 17 yards, setting up the Warriors touchdown.
McDonough found the endzone one more time in the fourth as he took a Clancy handoff and scored from 28 yards out, giving the Warriors the dominating 38-20 lead.
The Owls continued to fight and scored back-to-back touchdowns with just under two minutes left but they were not able to secure an onside kick off in the final moments to give their team a chance at the tie or win.
Merrimack was led defensively by junior Jimmy Holland (Billerica, Mass.) who finished the game with a team-high 10 tackles while sophomore safety Nick McDaniels (Boston, Mass.) closed out his impressive day with nine tackles. Matt Tripicchio (Lake Zurich, Ill.) continued his steady play finishing with eight tackles, two quarterback hurries and one pass breakup. Old Dominion transfer, Johnson, finished off his game with four tackles and an interception which he returned 42 yards, setting up a Warrior field goal.
For the Owls, Jablonski finished the game going 15-for-34 for 199 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Vaughn Magee led the Owls on the ground with 92 yards while Jerome Cunningham led them through the air with four catches for 48 yards and one touchdown.
Merrimack (2-2, 1-2 NE-10) will hit the road next week to take on NE-10 foe Pace for a 1 p.m. kick off.