MANCHESTER, N.H. – Junior WR Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.) caught nine passes, including one for a touchdown, but the Saint Anselm College football team suffered a 51-9 Homecoming loss to Merrimack College on Saturday afternoon at Grappone Stadium.
The Hawks fall to 0-7 on the season, including 0-6 in Northeast-10 play, while the Warriors improve to 4-3, 3-3 NE-10.
Bernard turned the nine catches into 89 yards, while sophomore QB Andrew Murphy (Franklin, Mass.) went 24-for-39 for 194 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Senior RB Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.) went over 200 all-purpose yards for the fourth time this season as he rushed for 82 yards on 15 carries, caught three passes for 32 yards and returned five kicks for 93 yards.
After Merrimack went up 7-0 3:36 into the contest on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Joe Clancy to Jere Brown and a Nick Zwaan extra point, Saint Anselm drove 77 yards on 13 plays and punched it into the end zone when Murphy found Bernard from seven yards out with 7:57 to play in the opening quarter. Sophomore K/P Shane Grayson (Ormond Beach, Fla.) had his extra point blocked to keep it 7-6.
The Warriors immediately responded 13 seconds later as Quinn McDonough picked up Grayson's line drive kickoff at his own 10-yard line and raced 90 yards up the right sideline to make it 14-6 after Zwaan's kick.
Following back-to-back four-and-outs, the Hawks put together an 11-play, 70-yard drive that resulted in a 29-yard field goal from Grayson that sliced it to 14-9 with 1:33 on the clock in the first.
Merrimack then drove down the field into Saint Anselm territory and looked to be adding another score to the board, but the defense came up with a huge fourth-and-five stop to take the ball away. The offense could not capitalize, but had another chance two drives later after junior DB Tyrel McDonald (Leominster, Mass.) picked Clancy at the Merrimack 32. The Hawks pushed it down to the five-yard line, but a fumbled snap on fourth-and-one ended in a broken play that gave the Warriors the ball back.
They would move 95 yards in 12 plays with Clancy hitting Zach Ingalls for a 15-yard touchdown that opened it to 20-9 with just 28 seconds on the clock. Sophomore DB Joel Jorgensen (Eldersbugh, Md.) blocked Zwaan's extra point to keep it an 11-point game.
Merrimack started out the second half with the ball, but on the third play of the drive Clancy was intercepted at his 32-yard line by junior LB Isaac Jorgensen (Eldersburg, Md.), who returned the ball down to the Merrimack 7. Charles was standing in the end zone with the ball two plays later, but a holding penalty negated the touchdown and Saint Anselm would eventually have to settle for a Grayson field goal try from 34 yards that came up short with 12:41 to play in the third.
The Warriors quickly responded with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that took just 1:40 and was capped by a two-yard pass from Clancy to Shane Ferguson that made it 27-9 after Zwaan's PAT with 11:01 on the clock.
Merrimack scored again 17 seconds later after it forced and recovered a fumble before Clancy found Brown from 21 yards out on the first play of the drive to open it up to 34-9 following the Zwaan kick.
After the Merrimack defense forced a three-and-out, Clancy went up top on the first play of the drive and hit Justin Mount for a 63-yard score down the left sideline that closed the third-quarter scoring and widened the gap to 41-9 after Zwaan's extra point.
Clancy tacked on a Steven Browne 20-yard touchdown pass 34 seconds into the fourth quarter before Zwaan added a 33-yard field goal with 9:21 on the clock to end the day's scoring.
Merrimack held a 489-411 advantage in total offense, but Saint Anselm held its first opponent of the season under 100 yards rushing.
The Hawks return to action Saturday, Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. when they travel to American International College. The Hawks wrap up their regular-season home Friday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. when they play host to Long Island University-LIU Post on Senior Night at Grappone. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter @STAHawks.