Merrimack Defeats Stonehill, 43-30

Sophomore Jesse Hunt posted season-highs of 25 completions, 287 passing yards and four touchdowns today at Merrimack.

Skyhawks fourth quarter surge not enough to overcome Suozzo's 383 total yards, five touchdowns

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (October 22, 2011) – Merrimack College posted 523 yards of total offense on its way to a 43-30 victory over Stonehill College in Northeast-10 Conference football action at Martone-Mejail Field this afternoon.

Senior quarterback James Suozzo (Everett, Mass./Bridgton Academy) led the way for Merrimack, which built a 43-7 lead after three quarters and held off an opportunistic comeback effort by Stonehill in the fourth quarter, with 383 total yards and five touchdowns on the afternoon. He completed 15-of-23 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, while also carrying the ball 16 times for another 122 yards and three scores.

Junior wide receiver Isaiah Voegeli (Hyannis, Mass./Barnstable) caught five passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns for Merrimack, adding two punt returns for 79 yards, to finish with 151 all-purpose yards. Classmate Jimon Hill (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago) added 125 all-purpose yards with 21 carries for 77 yards and a score and three receptions for 43 yards.

Senior linebacker Shawn Loiseau (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) paced the Merrimack defense with 11 tackles (three solo), including 2.0 for a loss of three yards, and a quarterback hurry. Classmate Nick DesJardins (Somerville, Mass./Arlington Catholic) added seven stops (two solo), including 3.0 for a loss of seven yards, a sack for a loss of three and a quarterback hurry.

Sophomore quarterback Jesse Hunt (Winchendon, Mass./Oakmont Regional) had a break out game for Stonehill in his second collegiate start as he completed a season-best 25-of-41 passes for a season-high 287 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. He has yet to throw an interception over the first 84 attempts over three games in his collegiate career. His four touchdown passes today match the third-highest single game total in program history, while his 25 completions match the second-highest single game total behind sophomore teammate Logan Meyer's (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure) program record 30 against American International on September 24.

Senior Phil Coriaty caught his first career touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Junior John Gomes (Hyannis, Mass./Barnstable) caught eight passes for 99 yards, adding three kickoff returns for 54 yards to finish with 153 all-purpose yards. Senior Philip Coriaty (Brockton, Mass./Brockton), sophomores Paul Piccirillo (Shelton, Conn./Shelton) and Jamal Johnson (Brockton, Mass./Brockton) and freshman Nathaniel Robitaille (Attleboro, Mass./Attleboro) all chipped in with touchdown catches. Junior Jermetrius Troy (Mattapan, Mass./The Tilton School) added 18 carries for 64 yards to go with five receptions for 26 yards to finish with 90 all-purpose yards.

Freshman Michael Hogan (Westborough, Mass./St. John's of Shrewsbury) led the Stonehill defense with a season-high 15 tackles (one solo) and a blocked kick. Junior Raymond Bass (Canton, Mass./Canton) posted a career-high 12 stops (five solo), including 1.0 for a loss of six yards, while senior Matt Iannucci (Oakland, N.J./Indian Hills) posted eight tackles (five solo), a forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception. Junior Jareed Gaines (Lumberton, N.J./Rancocas Valley) chipped in with 12 tackles (two solo), including 1.0 for a loss of three yards and a QB hurry.

Merrimack finished with 523 yards of total offense on the afternoon, with 255 passing and 215 on the ground. Stonehill posted 329 yards on 287 passing and just 42 rushing. The Warriors overcame five turnovers (three fumbles), compared to just one for the Skyhawks.

Merrimack opened the scoring on its second possession of the game after Stonehill had a drive stall at the Warriors 27 on a Hunt incompletion on fourth and four. Suozzo capped the ten play, 73-yard drive with a two-yard plunge after he set up the play with a 23 yard run.

Hogan blocked the extra point, marking Stonehill's third blocked kick (second extra point) of the season and tenth over the last 20 games, and the Skyhawks took the lead on their ensuing drive. Hunt found Piccirillo in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass after Gomes put Stonehill deep in Merrimack territory with a 45 yard kickoff return to the 34.

Senior captain Matt Iannucci posted eight tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery with an interception. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Merrimack scored 17 points in the second quarter to take a 23-7 lead into halftime and then broke the game open with 20 points in the third. Freshman Nick Zwann (Longmeadow, Mass./Longmeadow) put the Warriors back in front with a 22 yard field goal 50-seconds into the second quarter before Suozzo added another two yard touchdown run with 6:16 left and Hill scored from three yards out with 1:48 remaining in the half.

Merrimack's first touchdown of the second half came at the end of a grueling 15 play, 79 yard drive that consumed 7:18 as Suozzo hit Voegeli with a four yard scoring toss with 4:13 remaining in the frame. Suozzo found Voegeli again less than two minutes later with a 53 yard scoring pass one play after Stonehill's lone turnover of the contest. Suozzo scored on a 35 yard run with 44-seconds left in the third after the Skyhawks turned the ball over on downs on fourth and one at their own 39.

Stonehill came to life in the fourth quarter with 23 points to pull within two scores with four minutes still to play – capped by 16 points in a 42-second span. Hunt hit Coriaty with a 12 yard touchdown pass with 9:36 to play, before connecting with Robitaille for a three yard scoring toss with 4:42 remaining at the end of a nine play, 76 yard drive that took just 2:46.

Stonehill got two points on a safety when Merrimack's junior quarterback Joe Clancy (Newburyport, Mass./Newburyport) fumbled the snap and recovered it in the end zone. Senior All-America kick returner Stephan Neville (Foxborough, Mass./Foxborough) gave the Skyhawks excellent field position with a 30 yard return to the Merrimack 34. Hunt connected with Coriaty with a 23 yard completion and then found Johnson for an 11 yard touchdown two plays later at the four minute mark.

Stonehill attempted an onside kick, but it went out of bounds, giving Merrimack the ball at the Skyhawks 32 and the Warriors ran the clock out the rest of the way to clinch the win.

Stonehill (2-6, 1-4 NE-10) is back in action next Saturday when it visits Southern Connecticut State University for a Northeast-10 matchup at 1 p.m. The Skyhawks return home the following Saturday, November 5, to host Saint Anselm College for the "Battle for the Ol' Bronze Hawk" on Easton and Military Appreciation Day at noon. Merrimack (5-2, 4-1 NE-10) hosts No. 16 University of New Haven next Saturday at 1 p.m.