WALTHAM, Mass. – A 51-yard scoop and run by Merrimack College freshman linebacker Tyler Roberts (Wilmington) midway through the fourth quarter proved to be the difference as the Warriors spoiled Bentley University's Homecoming, 35-30, in Northeast-10 Conference football Saturday afternoon.
Roberts' touchdown, off of Bentley's third turnover of the game, came on the first play of a drive that started on the Merrimack 44 and the Falcons trailing by just five, 28-23.
Bentley's offense featured two touchdowns and 72 running yards from sophomore running back Andrew Brazicki (Franklin Lake, N.J./Bishop Ahr HS), along with a season-best 215 passing yards and two TD passes from sophomore QB Stephen Sturm (Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley HS). He completed 19 of 32 with senior Jordan Zlogar (Clifton Park, N.Y./Shenendehowa HS) pulling in seven for 87.
After the two teams exchanged 10-play, 78-yard scoring drives to start the game, Bentley took a 14-7 lead with 2:13 left in the opening quarter. Four plays after an interception by junior corner Peter Thorbahn (Norwell/Xaverian Bros. HS), Brazicki took it in from the four-yard line.
Merrimack opened a 21-14 lead by scoring on two of its next three possessions. There was a 27-yard run by freshman Matt Brehon (New Haven, Conn.) to finish a 10-play, 73-yard drive and a nine-yard scoring pass from freshman QB Christian Carter (Baltimore, Md.) to junior Marquis Spence (Englewood, N.J.). That followed a Falcon interception that gave the visiting Warriors the ball at the Bentley 23.
Bentley had a chance to get closer before intermission but a fumble at the Merrimack 20 ended that scoring threat.
In the third, Merrimack extended its lead to 28-14 when freshman Jamari Venter (Boston) ran the ball in from the 13 with 5:56 left on the clock. It was 28-17 entering the fourth following a 34-yard field goal by Bentley junior Grant Buchanan (Holliston/Holliston HS), his fourth of the season.
Bentley made it a five-point game when Brazicki's one-yard run finished a 12-play, 52-yard drive with 10:46 to play. The Falcons went for two in an attempt to make it a three-point game, but Sturm's pass attempt was off the mark.
After Roberts returned the difference to 12, Bentley embarked on a 16-play drive that culminated with a seven-yard TD pass from Sturm to senior Michael Correia (Fall River/ Durfee HS). Sturm's earlier scoring pass was an 11-yarder to freshman Noah Neville (Boston/Newton North HS) for Bentley's first TD.
With 3:18 to play, Bentley kicked off but couldn't get the necessary defensive stop. A 13-yard run by Carter on a third-and-three produced a first down and the Warriors (1-2, 0-1 NE10) were able to run out the clock.
Most of the offensive numbers were close with Merrimack outgaining the Falcons 391-376 overall and finishing with a 23-19 advantage in first downs. While both teams ran 70 plays from scrimmage, the Warriors controlled the ball for 36 minutes, as compared to the Falcons' 24.
Carson finished 14 of 20 for 120 yards through the air for Merrimack and also rushed for 84 yards on 18 carries. That total was matched by Ventor, who ran the ball 16 times.
Bentley's defense received 11 tackles from junior safety Tom Sullivan (Burlington/ Malden Catholic HS), who made his first career start, and 10 from senior linebacker Andrew Carmichael (Wayland/Wayland HS).
The Falcons also received an impressive showing returning kicks from freshman Isaiah Collins (Dorchester Center/Belmont Hill School). He amassed 166 yards on six returns, an average of 27.7 yards.
Bentley (1-2, 1-1 NE10) will look to get back on track next Saturday with a 1:00 contest at LIU Post.