North Andover, Mass. (October 10) - Led by a Saint Anselm single-game record 241 yards by junior back Luke St. Marie (Mill Creek, Wash.), the Saint Anselm football team defeated Merrimack by a 48-42 final at Warrior Field on Friday night. The win is the first collegiate victory for Saint Anselm first-year head coach Patrick Murphy. The team's 48 points is also the Saint Anselm single-game record.
Merrimack got on the board first 3:42 into the first quarter as freshman quarterback J.R. Suozzo (Everett, Mass.) capped off a 10-play, 60-yard drive with a three-yard keeper through the right side of the Saint Anselm defensive line. Saint Anselm answered with a 66-yard drive, keyed by a 33-yard run by St. Marie. Sophomore running back Joe Tran (Quincy, Mass.) found the end zone on the drive as he bounced off the referee and in from 10 yards out to even the score at 7-7.
Just 1:32 into the second quarter, the Warriors jumped back out in front as Richard Johnson (Brockton, Mass.) rumbled in from 10 yards out for his fourth touchdown of the season. An earlier 17-yard rush by Johnson in the drive helped give Merrimack solid field position to set up the score. On the ensuing possession, the Hawks were forced to punt, but the punt was fumbled by Merrimack's Andrew Jackson (New Britain, Conn.) and the Hawks took the ball back with 12:34 left in the period. Saint Anselm capitalized with a 10-yard touchdown reception from Marc Wilson (Farmington, Conn.) to Marcel Bouie (Stone Mountain, Ga.) to even things at 14-14 with 8:35 left in the first half.
With 6:14 left, Merrimack came roaring back with a quick six-play, 57-yard drive that was capped by a 25-yard scoring run by freshman Anthony Smalls (Natick, Mass.). The scoring play was set up by a hard-fought 10-yard rush by Johnson to set up the first down at the 25 yard line. Saint Anselm answered back almost immediately and on fourth down, Wilson broke to the left sideline and took it in from 17 yards out to knot the game at 21-21 with 2:57 left in the first half. The TD run was the third rushing score of the year for Wilson. The Hawks weren't done though as he engineered another scoring drive that took just 1:34 and was capped by a diving touchdown leap by Wilson for the 28-21 halftime edge.
Saint Anselm picked up right where they left off as St. Marie busted off a career-long 65 yard run for his third touchdown of the season. The extra-point try was no good and the Hawks held a 34-21 lead just 34 seconds into the third quarter. The Hawks took advantage of another Merrimack turnover on the following possession and after marching to the 20-yard line, Wilson found Bouie in the back left corner of the end zone to put the Hawks up by a 40-21 margin after the PAT was blocked.
Merrimack took the ball on the next possession and drove deep into Saint Anselm territory before running into a fourth down and one at the five yard line. Suozzo ran into the line and was stopped just inches short as the Hawks squashed the Warrior drive deep in Saint Anselm territory. The Warriors did find the end zone though in the third quarter as Suozzo fired a 24-yard scoring strike across the middle to sophomore Patrick Easley (Tulsa, Okla.) to cut the lead down to 40-28 with under a minute left in the period.
With 12:25 left in the fourth, it was Saint Anselm going for it on fourth and short deep in Merrimack territory, but the Warriors' J.D. Wild (Martha's Vineyard, Mass.) easily stopped Wilson on the keeper to take over. The Hawks nearly stopped the Warrior drive in its tracks, but on a fourth down and 21, Jeremiah Watts (Clovis, Calif.) caught a 51-yard pass to get the Warriors down to the 10 yard line. From there, Suozzo took it in on the keeper to cut the lead down to 40-35 with 11:05 left in the fourth quarter.
Saint Anselm answered back though just two plays later as St. Marie busted through the Merrimack defense for a 45-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was also good to make the score 48-35 Hawks with 10:41 left.
Merrimack was not going away quietly though as Suozzo scored his third rushing touchdown of the game with 3:57 left to pull the Warriors to within six at 48-42. The Hawks recovered the onside kick though and ran out the clock for their first victory of the season.
Saint Anselm set a number of single-game records as a team, including most team rushing yards in a game (439), most yards of total offense (553), total offensive plays (98), most team rushing attempts (69) and most points in a game (48).
St. Marie and Wilson both surpassed the 100-yard marks with 241 and 181 yards, respectively. The two teams combined for an incredible 1,200 yards of total offense.
Defensively, Dan Bohenek (Bridgewater, Mass.) led the Hawks with 14 tackles, including nine solo stops.
With the win, Saint Anselm improves to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in Northeast-10 play, while Merrimack drops to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the league. Saint Anselm returns to action on Saturday, October 18th as the Hawks travel to Southern Connecticut for a 1 p.m. start.