MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Saint Anselm College football team will try and shut down the conference's top offense when the Hawks play host to Merrimack College at Grappone Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. The game will be streamed live at SaintAnselmHawks.tv.
The Hawks and Warriors meet for the 12th time ever, with Merrimack leading the series, 8-3. Merrimack has won two straight overall and three straight at Grappone Stadium. In the most recent meeting, Saint Anselm suffered a 52-14 defeat at Warrior Field on Oct. 2, 2010.
Merrimack was led by senior transfer Greg Abelli, who recorded a 182-yard receiving effort. Abelli opened the scoring for the Warriors in the first quarter, pulling down a pass from junior quarterback James Suozzo at the 50-yard line. Abelli tip-toed along the sideline, then cut all the way across the field for the 67-yard score. The Hawks answered right back with a 10-play, 69-yard drive of their own, though, and tied the game quickly at 7-7. Set up by a 36-yard reception by senior Marcel Bouie, the Hawks capped the drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Michael Pierce to Marc Wilson through traffic for the tying score.
Late in the opening period, the Hawks took the lead at 14-7 as Wilson found junior tight end Justin Alexander for a 15-yard scoring pass across the middle, Wilson's first TD pass of the season.
From that point on, Abelli and the Merrimack offense got things going and took advantage of a number of Saint Anselm turnovers to push the lead to 42-14 at halftime. Ethan Weaver recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for the Warriors for his first career touchdown as well.
Merrimack added 10 second-half points to come away with the victory to remain unbeaten in league play.
Pierce and Wilson each threw a touchdown pass for the Hawks, while Bouie led the team with six catches for 78 yards. Bouie led the Hawks with 143 all-purpose yards. Sophomore Shane O'Donnell had eight tackles for the Hawks to lead the defense.
Suozzo passed for 264 yards and three touchdowns for Merrimack, while Abelli had seven catches for 182 yards.
With the loss, Saint Anselm fell to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the league, while Merrimack improved to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in Northeast-10 play.
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL...AND THE QUARTERBACK
The Hawks rank second in the Northeast-10 in both turnover differential (0.67) and sacks allowed per game (1.67). The Saint Anselm defense has played a big role in the turnover differential department, forcing 10 turnovers through the first eight games. Sophomore DB Trevor Jesse's four interceptions are tied for the national lead, while his 1.33 INTs per game put him all alone in first place.
The Hawks erased Bentley's streak of scoring in 17 consecutive quarters Sept. 23 when they held the Falcons scoreless in the opening quarter.
Senior WR Marc Wilson and sophomore WR Justin Bernard have provided a 1-2 – or if you go by their league ranking in receiving yards, a 3-4 – punch at the receiver position. Bernard, who leads the nation with 10 receptions per game, is putting up 90.0 yards per game, while Wilson is not far behind at 80.7 ypg. The two combined for nine receptions, 125 yards and a touchdown Sept. 23 at Bentley, one week after totaling 21 catches, 225 yards and two touchdowns against Southern Connecticut on Sept. 17.
Junior QB Mike Pierce recorded his seventh career 300-yard passing game with 315 yards against Southern Connecticut State on Sept. 17, going 33-for-57 with four TDs. Pierce is second in the conference with 267.0 yards of total offense per game.
RUNNING WITH A PURPOSE
Senior WR Marc Wilson ranks third in the conference and 19th in the nation with 167. all-purpose yards per game. That number was helped two weeks ago when Wilson returned an 80-yard kickoff for a touchdown and caught 10 passes for 118 yards against Southern Connecticut on Sept. 17.
TURNING IT OVER
The Saint Anselm defense forced five turnovers, including four interceptions, against Southern Connecticut on Sept. 17. The four interceptions are the most for the Hawks since they recorded four against Bentley on Oct. 25, 2008, while the five turnovers are the most since forcing five last season against Stonehill on Oct. 30.
CHARLES IN CHARGE
Sophomore RB Keith Charles put together his best game in a Saint Anselm uniform against 20th-ranked Kutztown on Sept. 3. Charles ran for 100 yards on 15 carries (6.7 average) and scored three times, including a 54-yard jaunt in the third quarter - the second longest rush of his career.
PIERCE GETTING IT DONE IN TOTAL
Junior QB Mike Pierce racked up over 300 yards of total offense against 20th-ranked Kutztown on Sept. 3. Pierce was 28-for-52 passing for 264 yards and a touchdown to go along with his 51 yards on the ground.
LUCKY NO. 13
Sophomore WR Justin Bernard reeled in 13 catches against 20th-ranked Kutztown on Sept. 3. Bernard was one reception shy of matching his career high of 14, which he set in a 35-26 win at New Haven last season Nov. 6.
ON THE OFFENSIVE
The Hawks amassed 438 yards of total offense against 20th-ranked Kutztown on Sept. 3, including 174 on the ground, which marked the first time since their 2008 meeting that the Hawks ran for 100-plus yards against the Golden Bears.
JORGENSEN NAMED ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Redshirt-freshman LB Isaac Jorgensen was named the Northeast-10 Rookie of the Week on Sept. 4 after he intercepted two passes, including one that set up Saint Anselm's first touchdown and brought the Hawks within seven points early on in their Sept. 3 meeting with 20th-ranked Kutztown. Jorgensen also recorded five tackles in the contest, including one for a six-yard loss.
PREDICTING THE FUTURE
The Hawks were picked to finish eighth in the Northeast-10 Preseason Coaches' Poll that was released last week. New Haven was chosen as the favorite to win the conference after collecting six-first place votes and point total of 59 to narrowly edge Southern Connecticut, which earned two first-place votes and 58 total points. Merrimack, which received the other first-place vote, came in third with 47 points. With 43 points, Bentley edged AIC (42) for the fourth-place slot. Assumption (28) and Stonehill (23) checked in at the sixth and seventh spots, with Saint Anselm (16) and Pace (8) rounding out the poll.
Grappone Stadium, the home of the Hawks, received a major face lift over the summer as the old grass surface was replaced with a new synthetic Field Turf and lights were added, making night football on the Hilltop a future possibility.
LIVE VIDEO STREAMING
Saint Anselm Athletics and Pack Network will once again team up for the 2011-12 season to offer an industry-leading streaming video solution. The service will feature live event productions that include multiple cameras, an on-screen scoreboard and graphics so that fans can still be part of the action even when they can't make it to the game. This season, all football, men's and women's basketball, and men's and women's hockey games will be streamed live at SaintAnselmHawks.tv. The Hawks All-Access Pass, available for $49.95, gives fans the opportunity to watch not only all the live coverage of various Saint Anselm home athletic events, but also premium content not available to view without the All-Access Pass. The premium content includes an in-depth archive section of all video available. Single-event subscriptions for all live events will be available throughout the season for $5.95.