MANCHESTER, N.H. – Seniors Eric Fairweather (Londonderry, N.H.) and Kyle Hill (Upper Marlboro, Md.) reached offensive milestones for the Saint Anselm College football team in its narrow 31-28 loss to Merrimack College on Saturday at Grappone Stadium.
Saint Anselm falls to 1-5 overall on the season with a matching Northeast-10 Conference record. Merrimack improves to 3-4 overall and to 3-3 against league opponents. The Hawks will host Bentley on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 6 p.m.
Fairweather led off the game with his 20th career rushing touchdown while Hill picked up the 20th touchdown catch of his career later in the contest. Fairweather becomes only the fourth student-athlete to reach that milestone while Hill is only the second in program history to reach 20 career touchdown receptions.
The Hawks defense began the game strong, forcing a three-and-out before getting the ball back on the Merrimack 47-yard line. Fairweather was able to engineer a four-play, 47-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard rush home with only 2:07 expired in the contest. Senior Daniel Parisi (Georgetown, Mass.) added the point-after, creating a 7-0 lead for the Hawks.
After back-to-back three-and-outs by Merrimack and Saint Anselm, Johnny Rosario reeled in a 20-yard touchdown pass with 7:23 to go and, following the Corey Resendes point-after, the Warriors were able to draw even at seven. The seven-play drive featured five complete passes and a key seven-yard rush by signal-caller Christian Carter.
Merrimack turned the ball over on downs at the Saint Anselm 23-yard line, forcing the Hawks to go 77 yards for a go-ahead touchdown by junior Nicholas Fiorillo (Westford, Mass.) as time expired in the first quarter. Parisi was able to collect his second extra-point of the day, creating a seven-point lead for the Hawks, 14-7, after the first 15 minutes of play.
The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter as Cody Demers caught a five-yard pass from Carter before Fairweather hooked up with Hill with 6:02 left in the first half, building a 21-14 lead for the Hawks. Saint Anselm marched 91 yards down the field for Hill's touchdown, coming on a 13-yard pass from Fairweather.
A 19-yard touchdown pass by Carter to Marquis Spence following a Hawks timeout brought Merrimack and Saint Anselm even at 21 with 4:11 to go in the first half, countering the strong drive by Saint Anselm on the prior offensive series. The Warriors needed only six plays and 1:51 of time to score the game-tying touchdown.
On the very first offensive play of the second half, Merrimack captured the lead with a 26-yard field goal from Resendes with 9:08 to go in the third quarter. The Warriors would add a defensive score later in the third quarter, picking up a Hawks fumble and returning it 15 yards to create a 31-21 advantage.
Sophomore Charles Elliott (Memphis, Tenn.) brought the Hawks to within three points, 31-28, with 3:03 left in regulation time after collecting a 17-yard Fairweather pass for the score. Saint Anselm attempted an on-side kick, but Merrimack recovered and was able to gain a game-ending first down thanks to an eight-yard sprint by Carter where he eluded several Hawks defenders.
Junior CJ Miller (Clinton, Md.) led student-athletes from both teams with 16 total tackles. Senior captain Zack Mercer (Melrose, Mass.) and classmate Emmanuel Akinlosotu (Upper Marlboro, Md.) each forced a fumble in the game with sophomore Ryan Sullivan (Stoughton, Mass.) and Jerome Seglah (Lowell, Mass.) each recovering a fumble. Mercer joined senior Nate Lewis (Lanham, Md.) with double-digit tackles, each finishing with 11.
Fairweather finished with three touchdown passes for 359 total yards but was brought down four times. He also sprinted 17 times for 80 yards on the ground with a game-long 25-yard run for good measure.
Michael Mercuri led Merrimack with 10 takedowns and a forced fumble. He also added three quarterback hurries in the game, racking up five tackles for a loss of 24 yards on the afternoon. Carter finished with 362 passing yards and three touchdowns, throwing to a different receiver on each score, but was picked off by Nick Diamond (Westford, Mass.) in the fourth quarter.