NORTH ANDOVER — Leading by just five after the first quarter, the Merrimack College football team would not allow another point the rest of the way thanks to stellar defense and momentum-changing turnovers, and a 31-point second half allowed the Warriors to cruise to a 51-9 road victory against Saint Anselm College yesterday afternoon.
Despite the end result, the first half of the contest was much closer than the final score indicated, as the Warriors (4-3, 3-3) and Hawks battled tooth and nail over the first 30 minutes of regulation.
Merrimack opened the game’s scoring on its first drive of the game before the Hawks responded with a touchdown of their own to cut the deficit to 7-6 midway through the first quarter. But the Warriors answered right back on their next possession, as senior Quinn McDonough sparked the visitors with a 90-yard kickoff return that pushed the Navy and Gold up, 14-6.
The Warrior offense would rack up 21 points in the third quarter before tallying 10 more in the last frame, finishing with 489 yards on the day. Joe Clancy would finish 38 for 56 with six touchdowns, two interceptions and 441 yards, while classmate Shane Ferguson enjoyed a career afternoon with a personal best 150 yards and two scores.
Freshman Justin Mount, sophomore Jere Brown, Zach Ingalls and junior Steven Browne would all haul in receiving touchdowns as well, while McDonough finished with 106 yards on two kickoff returns.
Jon Hooper would lead the way defensively with eight tackles and two for losses totaling 18 yards, and also helped set up Merrimack’s field goal in the fourth quarter after picking off Andrew Murphy in the Merrimack end zone and returning it 68 yards deep into Saint A’s territory.
“I thought we executed extremely well when we needed to, especially on defense, and that showed with the result,” said Merrimack coach Dan Curran.
Merrimack outgained Saint A’s by a 489-411 margin. That came despite totaling just 48 yards rushing on the day, as the Warriors generated 441 passing yards and added 183 more return yards