From the Merrimack site: Monstrous Second Half Pushes Football Past Saint Anselm in Home Opener
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College football team's offense started to click late in the second quarter, then it was a runaway, as it flew past Saint Anselm by a 55-23 final Saturday afternoon at Duane Stadium. In front of a raucous 3,827 fans, the Warrior defense shined in the game's opening half and let Merrimack's high-powered offense get going. Tyler Roberts reeled in an 18-yard pass from Westin Elliott with 2:59 to play before the halftime gun to make it a 9-7 Hawk lead, then Pat Conroy fought for a 17-yard score with just 32 seconds to play in the opening half hour and Merrimack never surrendered the lead after that.
Elliott lit up the field in his Warrior debut, as he threw for 374 yards, five touchdowns and completed 29-of-35 passes. Merrimack's offensive attack was balanced, as it rumbled on the ground for an additional 210 yards, led by 69 from Victor Dawson.On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary had plenty of highlights. Kenneth Cooper had a pick-six from 41 yards out and Donte Williams and Jason Labbe II also had interceptions on the afternoon. Tyler Leavy was a force in the interior, as he tied for the team game-high in tackles with four and had 1.5 tackles for loss, including half a sack. He also forced, then recovered a fumble.
The Essentials Score: Merrimack 55, Saint Anselm 23 Records: Merrimack (1-0, 0-0 NEC) | Saint Anselm (0-1, 0-0 NE10)
How It Happened Merrimack had a difficult time moving the ball in the game's opening quarter and a half and the Hawks took advantage to the tune of an early 9-0 lead. After an interception returned for a touchdown brought the Hawk lead to nine, the Warriors retaliated on the next possession. Elliott and the Warriors marched downfield for 63 yards in 11 plays and capped it with a dart over the middle to Roberts, who easily hauled in the host's first score of the season. The Hawks went three-and-out and gave Merrimack the ball back with 2:10 to play in the half, which was more than enough time to take the lead. Another quick and efficient drive ended in the hands of Conroy, who caught a perfectly placed ball from Elliott near the back pylon to put the Warriors in front at the half.
St. Anselm drove the ball to midfield to start the second half, but Williams' interception spelled the end to that drive and opened the door once again for the offense. Merrimack worked it down towards the red zone and was forced into a fourth-and-short situation. Matt Brehon got the sticks and a lot more when he fought through the line of scrimmage and went in nearly untouched 26 yards for the touchdown.
The Hawks put an end to the Warrior run with a score with 8:48 to play in the third, but momentum did not shift hands. Elliott hooked up with Johnny Rosario on a 42-yard bomb to bring Merrimack to the Hawk eight-yard-line, then Camari Glasgow took a shovel pass to the house to bring the lead to 28-16. Williams made another big defensive play to stop the ensuing Saint Anselm drive, then the rout was on. Elliott found Conroy for a 46-yard connection to close the third quarter at the Hawk seven-yard-line, then connected with Anthony Norcia on the next play to all but put the game away at 35-16. Just two plays later, Cooper picked off Hawk quarterback, Drew Willoughby, and ran it back 41 yards for his first collegiate touchdown. Merrimack tacked on a couple more scores late, as Norcia reeled in his second receiving touchdown of the day and Tyvon Edmonds Jr. went for 48 yards combined on two straight plays to find pay dirt.
Individual Highlights Rosario broke the century mark with 104 receiving yards to lead all Warriors. It was his second career 100-yard game. Norcia's seven catches led all Merrimack receivers. Cory Hagerman topped all Warriors with four solo tackles. Caleb Holden dominated in the secondary with a game-high three pass break-ups. Nick Martino, Nicholas Lenon and Williams also registered sacks. Notes & Numbers Merrimack kept Saint Anselm to just three conversions on 13 third downs. The Warriors topped the Hawks in time of possession, 37:44 to 22:16. Merrimack converted on seven of its 13 chances on third down. The Warriors topped the Hawks in total offense, 577-225. Up next The Warriors travel to Worcester, Mass. next Saturday to take on reigning Patriot League champion, Holy Cross. Kickoff is slated for 2:00 p.m.