Warriors Hold Off Skyhawks, 21-16

Sophomore Eddie Vachon racked up 173 all-purpose yards in the Skyhawks' 21-16 loss to Merrimack.

Warriors Hold Off Skyhawks, 21-16


Easton, Mass. - Powered by the all-around performance of Brockton native Richard Johnson, and a pair of spectacular touchdown catches from Jeremiah Watts, Merrimack racked up 417 yards of total offense and the visiting Warriors defeated Stonehill, 21-16 in front of 2,326 fans at W.B. Mason Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Johnson rushed for 114 yards on 26 carries and had a game-high eight catches for 52 more yards helping Merrimack collect their fifth win of the season.

Things started off well for Stonehill, as the Skyhawks marched 80 yards on five plays on the game's opening drive capped by a 32-yard touchdown pass from Cruz Parsons (Signal Hill, Calif.) to David Pringle (West Haven, Conn.).

The Stonehill defense forced Merrimack punts on their first two possessions and after driving to the Warrior 20 on a drive that started at their own seven, Parsons was rushed and hit as he threw resulting in an interception in the end zone by Merrimack's Mike O'Brien.

The Warriors then went down the field and scored on a 17-yard pass from James Souzzo to Jeremiah Watts on fourth and one. Watts took a big shot from Jon Kilborn (North Dartmouth, Mass.) but miraculously, held on to even the score.

A career-long 44-yard field goal from junior Brendan Gorey (West Islip, N.Y.) on the Skyhawks' next set of downs gave Stonehill a 10-7 advantage going into halftime.

The Warriors advanced the ball into Stonehill territory on their opening drive of the half but their offense stalled and were forced to try a field goal that was blocked by Brendan Taylor (Stoughton, Mass.) keeping the score at 10-7.

A three-and-out by Stonehill and a short punt that was returned 18 yards by Andrew Jackson gave Merrimack the ball at the Stonehill 27. Later in the drive Souzza and Ryan DiGregorio connected on a seven-yard score on third and six, giving the Warriors their first lead at 14-7.

Souzza and Watts hooked up again, this time from 19 yards out, although initially it looked far from a touchdown. Souzza's pass was deflected high in the air by Kilborn but Watts, who stands 6-foot-3, rose up and gathered the ball in, then spun towards the sideline and dove into the endzone for the 21-10 lead.

Stonehill rallied with a 10-play, 88-yard drive in just 1:52, which was capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Parsons to Jeff Payne (West Haven, Conn.). Eddie Vachon's (Newton, Mass.) two-point rushing attempt was denied, leaving the score at 21-16.

Michael Vinci (Framingham, Mass.) delivered an excellent onside kick but Watts was able to pounce on it to seal the game.

Souzza was 27-for-40 for 245 yards and three touchdowns. He added an additional 60 yards rushing, as the Warriors produced 172 yards on the ground. Souzza also got credit for a 15-yard catch when a pass he threw was deflected by a Stonehill defender and right back into his arms early in the second quarter.

Watts finished the day with seven catches for 85 yards and a pair of scores, while Shane Brown led the Merrimack defense with nine tackles, two for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.

Parsons, meanwhile, topped the 200 yard passing mark for the third time in four games, with a 219-yard, two-touchdown, three-interception performance. Vachon was his primary target, collecting seven balls for 70 yards. Chris Palmer (Santa Barbara, Calif.) had four grabs for 89 yards and Pringle finished with three catches for 49 yards and a score.

Defensively for Stonehill, Greg Sanzari (Centerport, N.Y.) had 11 tackles (seven solo) and Michael Greene (Plainview, N.Y.) added 10 stops of his own.

Stonehill (2-6, 1-5 NE-10) returns to action next Saturday when they travel to St. Anselm for a meeting with the Hawks. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.