St. Anselm looks defenseless against Merrimack
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - Freshman quarterback Andrew Murphy tossed five touchdowns and junior wide receiver Justin Bernard caught three of them, but the Saint Anselm College football team ran into a record-setting offensive day for Merrimack College as the Warriors posted an 81-35 victory Saturday afternoon at Martone-Mejail Field.
The Hawks fall to 1-7 on the season, including 1-6 in Northeast-10 play. The Warriors improved to 4-3 and evened their record in the conference at 3-3.
Murphy completed 29 of his career-high 61 attempts for 357 yards and five touchdowns, but threw a pair of interceptions. Bernard caught 11 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
The 475 yards of total offense and 357 passing yards the Hawks rung up are the second highest marks this season behind the 500 and 405, respectively, in Murphy's first career start at Southern Connecticut State University on Sept. 29. Beginning with that game, the offense is averaging 445.8 yards per contest over its last four. The Hawks also went over 100 yards rushing for the second consecutive game after doing so for the first time this season last week.
In a game that featured 116 points and 1,276 yards of total offense, Merrimack went up 53-0 on five Joe Clancy touchdown passes, including four to Isaiah Voegeli. The Hawks jumped on the board with 2:03 remaining in the opening half after a six-play, 81-yard drive. Bernard had three catches for 70 yards during the possession, including a 29-yarder from Murphy that made it 53-7 after the extra point by senior P/K Shea Cerio.
Saint Anselm then received the kickoff to open the second half and promptly went 75 yards in just five plays and 49 seconds. Murphy was 5-for-5 for 58 yards on the drive, including four completions to Bernard for 45 yards, as well as the 14-yarder that capped the drive and brought the score to 53-14 following Cerio's PAT with 14:04 on the clock.
Clancy threw his sixth touchdown pass to Jere Brown - a 31-yarder that made it 60-14 following Nick Zwann's extra point with 8:56 left in the third - to cap a seven-play, 80-yard drive.
On the ensuing drive, Murphy once again marched the Hawks down the field as they moved the ball 64 yards in 10 plays. Murphy then hit Bernard for a 23-yard touchdown and the score was 60-21 at the 5:59 mark of the third after Cerio's point-after.
After freshman Jack Hopkins picked Clancy for his second interception of the season, the Hawks went three-and-out and were forced to kick it away. Cerio's punt was blocked by Colin Hay, who retrieved the ball and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown with 3:40 to go in the third. Zwann's kick put the Warriors on top, 67-21. Following another three-and-out, Clancy capped his day with a 71-yard score to Brown that made it 74-21 with 1:17 left in the third.
The Hawks responded with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that took just 1:23. Murphy hooked up with senior wide receiver Craig Dennis for a 10-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter that made it 74-28 just six seconds in.
After an Artis Holt interception shortened the field for the offense, the Warriors went 30 yards in five plays, with Luke Bakanowsky carrying the ball in from five yards out to cap the drive and make it 81-28 with 8:19 remaining.
Saint Anselm followed that with a nine-play, 70-yard drive on its next possession, which ended when Murphy found junior wide receiver Eric Feehan for an 11-yard touchdown that brought the Hawks to within 81-35 with 6:18 left on the game clock.
Dennis made six catches for 81 yards and his score, while sophomore wide receiver Ahkeen Williams notched seven receptions for 88 yards. It marked the first time the Hawks had three receivers with at least 80 yards since Nov. 6, 2010 when Bernard, Marcel Bouie and then-freshman Keith Charles each reached the century mark in an upset win at New Haven.
Junior running back Greg Bell led the Hawks in rushing with 12 carries for 66 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior linebacker Ethan Sylvain and senior linebacker Brendan Timmons each made a game-high eight tackles. Sylvain amassed seven solo stops and four tackles for a loss of 19 yards, while Timmons made two for a loss of three yards. Freshman defensive back Carroll Bailey tallied seven stops and forced a fumble, while senior defensive lineman Mike Hobbs also recorded seven tackles, including 2.5 for a loss. In addition to the interception, Hopkins notched six tackles, including one for a loss.
Clancy, who was 27-for-42, broke the Northeast-10 Conference record for passing yards (553) and total yards (561) and matched the conference record for passing touchdowns (7). Voegeli tied a school record with four touchdowns and broke his own NE-10 record with 269 receiving yards. The Warriors, meanwhile, broke several NE-10 records as they scored 81 points, recorded 801 total yards and racked up 553 passing yards, in addition to school records for yards in a half (524) and points in a half (53).