The only thing more eventful than the four-hour bus ride home following Merrimack College’s stunning, 42-41, win over Div. 1 Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y. last Friday night was the seven-hour bus ride to the New York City borough on Thursday night.
“We had problems with one of the buses before we left, which got us going a little later than we expected,” said Merrimack head coach Dan Curran, who is now 1-0 after his debut after four years as an assistant.
“And then we had problems with a bus heading down and had to pull over at rest area on the way down,” said Curran. “It wasn’t what we hoped for. We got there about (three hours) later than we planned. But honestly, nobody complained. That’s the way this team is. We don’t worry about things out of our control.”
Friday’s opening night win was the biggest in Merrimack’s 17-year history in Div. 2 and was huge on several levels. Wagner was coming off a season in which it made the Div. 1-AA playoffs and had not only won its opener against Georgetown (28-21) the week before, but was the favorite to repeat as Northeast Conference champs.
The Friday night tilt was Wagner’s first home game with permanent lights, meaning nearly 3,000 fans were in attendance. Lest we forget that Wagner’s top running back (Dominique Williams) and kicker (David Lopez) will probably be drafted or invited to NFL camps next summer.
“This is a very, very good football team,” said Curran. “Last year, they beat Colgate and had Eastern Washington on the ropes. As we saw, they had a lot of depth and they wore us down a bit, which is what happens when you face a team from a higher division. But we never let up and showed a lot of resiliency.”