Manchester, N.H. (September 26) -- Merrimack used 601 yards of total offense to pull away from Saint Anselm as the Hawks dropped a 41-31 final to the Warriors on Saturday afternoon at Grappone Stadium.
Saint Anselm jumped on the board first as the Hawks took the ball the length of the field with a 10-play, 68-yard drive. That drive culminated in a 22-yard scoring pass on fourth down from Michael Pierce (Andover, Mass.) to Marcel Bouie (Stone Mountain, Ga.) for the 7-0 lead.
The Warriors and sophomore quarterback James Suozzo (Everett, Mass.) evened things up at 7-7 on the final play of the first quarter as Chris Laham (Westwood, Mass.) pulled down a 67-yard scoring pass on the far sideline. Laham pulled down the scoring pass just past the outstretched hands of two Hawk defenders and ran the final 10 yards for the TD.
Saint Anselm regained the lead with a 34-yard field goal by Zack McCabe (East Freetown, Mass.) early in the second quarter, his second field goal in as many weeks. It was Merrimack that closed out the first-half scoring however as Anthony Smalls (Natick, Mass.) rumbled in from seven yards out off the left tackle for a 14-10 halftime lead.
Merrimack got off to a quick start in the third quarter as Laham pulled in a five-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone. That was followed by a 67-yard scoring run up the far sidelines by Smalls as he outran the Hawk defense for his second touchdown of the afternoon.
Saint Anselm answered back though with a scored of its own as freshman wide receiver Craig Dennis (Atlantic City, N.J.) pulled in a two-yard scoring pass on his fingertips to cut the lead down to 27-17 late in the third quarter. The 10-point deficit was shortlived though as Suozzo took matters into his own hands with a 66-yard touchdown run up the middle to make it a 34-17 lead with 14:38 left in the game.
The back and forth battle continued as an eight-play, 64-yard drive was capped off by a 24-yard touchdown pass from Marc Wilson (Farmington, Conn.) to Ryan Fritch (Winsted, Conn.). The touchdown reception was Fritch's second in the last two games. Laham then made it a three-touchdown day as the senior standout pulled down a nine-yard touchdown just inside the corner of the end zone to make it 41-24 with 5:31 remaining.
After a blocked punt by Saint Anselm senior linebacker Kevin Flynn (Wakefield, Mass.), the Hawks struck on the next play with a 24-yard scoring strike to freshman Chris Chapman (Bronx, N.Y.) to pull within 41-31 with under a minute remaining. The onside kick attempt was unsuccessful for the Hawks as the Warriors sealed the victory to remain perfect in league play.
Pierce finished the game 24-for-36 for 251 yards and three touchdowns, while Dennis pulled down eight catches for 81 yards. Defensively, Dan Bohenek (Bridgewater, Mass.) had 10 tackles, including eight solo stops. Freshman Ethan Sylvain (E. Montpelier, Vt.) continued his stellar play with nine tackles, including one sack, to go along with two interceptions.
Merrimack piled up 364 yards on the ground, led by a 219-yard, two-touchdown game by Smalls. Suozzo also added 151 yards on the ground, in addition to his 237 passing yards as he accounted for four touchdowns and 388 yards of total offense.
With the loss, the Hawks fall to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the Northeast-10, while Merrimack is now 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the Northeast-10. Saint Anselm returns to action on Saturday, October 3rd as the Hawks travel to American International for a Noon kickoff in Springfield, Mass.