NORTH ANDOVER — Trailing at one point by 28 points with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter, the Merrimack College football team rallied all the way to a one-score deficit and drove to within the New Haven 10-yard line on back-to-back drives.
But the Warriors could not punch in the game-tying touchdown on both occasions, as the visiting Chargers survived an upset bid from the hosts, as the Warriors fell, 48-41, to the reigning Northeaset-10 Conference champions yesterday afternoon.
Following a back-and-forth first half that saw New Haven take a 27-17 lead into the locker room, the Chargers (5-1, 5-0 in NE-10) would reel off three straight touchdowns to extend their lead to 28 points (48-20) with 4:03 to go in the third quarter.
Down by four scores, Merrimack (3-3, 2-3) quickly responded on the very next drive, as senior Joe Clancy connected with sophomore Jere Brown on a 15-yard strike to cap off a seven-play, 75-yard drive to close out the third frame with the Warriors trailing, 48-27.
Another lightning-quick scoring drive that took just 1:35 off the clock, as Clancy hooked up with classmate Shane Ferguson on a three-yard shovel pass that brought the Warriors to within 14 (48-34) with plenty of time to go in the fourth quarter.
That was when the defense came through, forcing a punt from the Chargers on their first drive of the final stanza, giving the ball back to the Warriors with 11 minutes left in regulation. And once again, Clancy marched the Navy and Gold down field, and after eight plays and 80 yards, the senior gun slinger instead snuck in on a two-yard keeper that brought the crowd of 1,006 to its feet and within seven points with 8:07 to go in the contest.
Once again, the defense came through, forcing another New Haven punt, but after driving all the way down to the Chargers’ 1-yard line, Merrimack’s offense would be turned aside on third and fourth down with 3:41 left.
Pinned down deep in its own territory, New Haven would go three-and-out once more, giving the Warriors the ball back with 2:40 to go.
Starting from the Charger 34, Merrimack drove back into the red zone after Clancy found Ferguson for a 14-yard gain and senior Quinn McDonough punched ahead for a six-yard gain that brought it to the New Haven 9-yard marker, bringing up a 2nd and 4 with just over a minute to play.
But once again, Merrimack’s offense stalled and New Haven would get the ball back on downs and would run out the clock.
Both sides combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense (1,007), with Merrimack outgaining the Chargers by a 600-407 margin
Clancy finished just shy of his single-game record in passing yards, going 51 for 71 for 538 yards and no interceptions.
Merrimack boasted a pair of 100-plus-yard receivers, featuring Brown (13-173) and junior Zach Ingalls (11-132), while Ferguson and senior tight end Greg Devine each hauled in receiving touchdowns