North Andover, Mass. (October 13) -- On Saturday afternoon, the Saint Anselm football team fell to Merrimack by a 55-14 final in the Second Annual Merrimack River Shootout at Warrior Field in North Andover, Mass.
The Hawks came out firing early as Kevin Flynn (Wakefield, Mass.) forced a Merrimack fumble on the first play from scrimmage and the Hawks took over at the Merrimack 37-yard line. Just 2:54 into the game, senior Nick Barese (Braintree, Mass.) found Ryan Drago (Plymouth, Mass.) for a 26-yard scoring strike and a 7-0 Saint Anselm lead. On the ensuing possession for Merrimack, the Warriors found the equalizer almost immediately as standout quarterback Colin Temple connected with Chris Laham for a 45-yard TD and the game was tied at 7-7. The Hawks nearly had a chance to take a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, but Barese was picked off deep in Merrimack territory to end the drive.
The Hawks found the end zone again in the second quarter on a scoring play that was set up by a 41-yard run down the home sideline from junior running back Conor Cahill (Salem, Mass.). After an incomplete pass on first and goal, Barese took the ball in himself from the nine-yard line and the Hawks had a 14-7 advantage. The Warriors had no intention of going away though as they engineered a 10-play, 63-yard drive that was capped by a 42-yard strike from Temple to Sean McFee and the two teams headed into halftime knotted up at 14-14.
In the second half, it was Merrimack taking an advantage of an early turnover as the Hawks fumbled the kickoff and recovered deep inside Saint Anselm territory. Temple again found Laham just 1:05 into the half on a 27-yard reception to give the Warriors the lead for good at 21-14. The Warriors pushed the lead to 48-14 after the third quarter and added another score with just three minutes remaining in the game for the 55-14 final.
Offensively, Cahill narrowly missed out on his first 100-yard game of his career with a career-best 95-yard performance. Barese enjoyed his best afternoon of the season as he was 29-of-45 for 256 yards and one passing touchdown, along with a rushing TD. For just the second time in Saint Anselm history, the Hawks had two receivers surpass the 100-yard mark on the afternoon. Drago ended the afternoon with 107 yards on nine receptions and was joined in the 100-yard club by senior Corey Williams (Billerica, Mass.). Williams finished with a game-high 10 catches for 102 yards.
For Merrimack, Temple finished 15-of-25 for 326 yards and four touchdowns. Richard Johnson had 135 yards on the ground in 23 rushing attempts, while Laham was the teams' leading receiver with 132 yards on four catches and three touchdowns.
Defensively for the Hawks, senior Nate Munzing (Gardiner, Maine) led the team with 11 total tackles, followed closely by Flynn with 10 stops. JD Wild led Merrimack with 13 tackles, including seven solo stops.
With the loss, the Hawks fall to 0-6 overall and 0-5 in league play, while Merrimack improves to 2-4 overall and 2-3 in the Northeast-10. Saint Anselm is back in action on Saturday, October 20th as the team hosts Bryant University in the Second Annual Granite Cup. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Grappone Stadium.