STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Trailing 41-35 with just over five minutes to play, Division 2 Merrimack drove 96 yards in 14 plays to stun Wagner, the preseason favorite in the 1-AA Northeast Conference.
Joe Clancy found Shane Ferguson for a 3-yard, decisive strike with 30 seconds remaining in the season opener. The PAT by Nick Zwaan sealed it, 42-41.
After watching a 15-point lead evaporate, the Warriors had to rally from a 34-28 deficit midway through the fourth. Clancy found Greg Devine with 8:15 left.
But Wagner regained the lead as Dominique Williams capped off a nine-play drive with a 3-yard scoring run.
That set up The Drive.
The Warriors took over on their own 5 and marched the length of the field with a series of clutch plays.
Quinn McDonough’s 20-yard run put the ball in Seahawk territory. A 13-yard pass to Jere Brown got the ball into the red zone.
Two plays later, Clancy found Ferguson on an out route to the right side, and the slot receiver sliced around the defense and crossed the plane to cap off likley the biggest win in program history.
McDonough had a big game including a 98-yard kickoff return for an early score.
Clancy and Frankie Dunn combined on a 13-yard score to take a 28-10 lead. The hosts got some momentum at the break on a late 47-yard field goal then reeled off 21 straight points in the second half to take the lead early in the fourth.
But Clancy, the record-setting fifth-year senior from Newburyport, was just getting started.
He finished with four touchdowns and 309 yards passing while completing a sizzling 70 percent (25 of 50) of his passes to give new head coach Dan Curran an unforgettable win.
After holding a 280-134 advantage after the first half in total yards, Merrimack finished with a 433-418 lead in total offense, averaging 5.2 yards per play.
Merrimack opens up Northeast-10 Conference action Friday at AIC at 6 p.m.