GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Stonehill Looks to Clinch First NE-10 Championship at Merrimack

Click here for live stats

Click here for live video

Full Stonehill Game Notes

Merrimack Game Notes

Adults - $10
Youth/Senior Citizens - $5
Tickets Available gameday only at the ticket booth

 Student-Athlete Spotlight: Senior RB Justin Willis
 Coach's Corner with Robert Talley

The Game: Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll, ranked ninth in the NCAA Division II Super Region 1 rankings and fifth in the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands poll, closes out the regular season with a Northeast-10 Conference matchup against Merrimack College at Martone-Mejail Field this afternoon. The Skyhawks are winners of a season-best four straight heading into its tuneup for next weekend's NE-10 Championship after posting a 42-14 triumph over Pace in Easton last Saturday. The Warriors have won their last three after a 31-21 win at Assumption last weekend.

Media Info: Live video of this afternoon's game is available on a pay-per-view basis ($8.95) via Nick Gagalis and Nate Vilandre is broadcasting the action powered by Pack Network. WSHL 91.3 FM will also be broadcasting the game back to Easton with Tim Culverhouse and Matt Tardiff calling the action for the radio broadcast.

We're Going to the 'Ship!: Stonehill clinched its spot in next weekend's Northeast-10 Conference Championship for the first time in program history with its 42-14 win over Pace coupled with American International 43-34 win at New Haven. AIC holds the inside track to host the Championship by way of its head-to-head win over Stonehill, but the Skyhawks could host the game with a win over Merrimack today and an AIC loss to Southern Connecticut State in Springfield this afternoon. Game time for the title game will be announced at the conclusion of this afternoon's NE-10 football schedule.

We Could Be Dancing: Stonehill slipped two spots to ninth in this week's NCAA Division II Super Region 1 rankings released by the NCAA Regional Advitory Committee on Monday. The Skyhawks were ranked seventh in the first edition of the rankings released on October 28, marking the first time in program history the Skyhawks have been ranked in the regional rankings used for NCAA Tournament selection. Stonehill and American International (ranked 7th) are the lone Northeast-10 Conference programs in this week's rankings. Six teams from each of four regions earn bids to the NCAA Division II Championships. Whichever of the NE-10's two Championship Game participants (AIC & Stonehill) can win their next two games would stand a tremendous chance of earning an NCAA Tournament bid. It would be the first in program history for the Skyhawks.

Against the Warriors: This afternoon marks the 18th meeting all-time between these two programs. Merrimack holds an 11-6 edge in the all-time series that dates back to 1996, but Stonehill claimed a 22-20 triumph in last year's meeting to snap a string of four straight wins by the Warriors. The Skyhawks are 5-3 all-time here in North Andover, Mass., but Merrimack has won the last two games here at Martone-Mejail Field, including a 43-30 decision here in 2011. Head Coach Robert Talley is 2-4 in his career against the Warriors.


They're Honored: Stonehill junior wide receiver Nate Robitaille (Attleboro, Mass.) and sophomore running back Colin Markus (Monroe, Conn.) were both named to the Northeast-10 Conference's weekly honor roll on Monday for their efforts in Stonehill's 42-14 win over Pace. Robitaille caught seven passes for a game high 116 yards and the opening touchdown of the game. Markus rushed the ball 20 times for a game-high 101 yards and career-best three touchdowns, one shy of the program single-game record, marking his third-straight 100-plus yard performance. The duo were also named to the New England Football Weekly Honor Roll.

Votes of Confidence: Stonehill appears among teams receiving votes in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll for the fourth-straight week and fifth time this season overall. The Skyhawks received votes for the first time in program history in the September 23 poll with five votes and have collected a season-high eight votes this week. Stonehill is joined in the receiving votes group by fellow NE-10 Championship Game participant American International (6 votes) in this week's poll.

#VoteTalley: Fans can now vote for head coach Robert Talley for the NCAA Division II Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year program at The Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award recognizes college football coaches who demonstrate Sportsmanship, Integrity, Responsibility and Excellence both on and off the field. Endorsed by the College Football Hall of Fame, the program awards one winning coach from each NCAA division (I-FBS, I-FCS, II, and III) with $50,000 to donate to a charity of their choice, a $20,000 grant to each school's alumni association, and the Coach of the Year trophy. Coach Talley is now close to cracking the top ten, sitting at 11th as of Wednesday morning. Remember to #VoteTalley once a day!

Polling Information: Stonehill held its position at No. 5 in this week's Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Lambert Meadowlands Division II poll released on Monday. The Skyhawks made its first appearance in the prestigious regional poll in program history in the inaugural poll of the season at No. 8 before moving up to No. 6 the following week and then fifth on October 28. Stonehill is one of three NE-10 members in the poll with American International ranked third and New Haven tenth.

November Reign: Since head coach Robert Talley took over the program in 2007, Stonehill is 9-3 in the month of November after last weekend's 42-14 win over Pace. The three losses are to American International in the final game of 2007, at Bentley to close out the 2010 season and against Southern Connecticut State here in 2012 on NE-10 Championship Weekend.

History in the Making: Stonehill's 7-2 start is the program's best since it won eight of its first nine in 1996 on the way to an 8-2 season, which also marks the last time Stonehill finished above .500 before this season. Saturday's 38-28 win over LIU Post clinched the program's first winning season since 1996 and the Skyhawks 29-26 comeback win at New Haven clinched a second-straight winning record in the NE-10, marking the first time the Skyhawks have finished above .500 in back to back seasons since the NE-10 started sponsoring football in 2000 and the first time the program has posted back to back winning Conference records since 1995 and 1996.

Comeback Kids: Stonehill has rallied from double figure deficits four times this season. The Skyhawks trailed LIU Post by 14 early in the second quarter on October 26 before reeling off 31-straight points to take control. Stonehill rallied from a 12 point (26-14) deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to claim its 29-26 victory at New Haven in week seven. The Skyhawks erased three 14 point margins before claiming a 41-38 overtime victory at Assumption on September 20 and then dug out of a pair of 14 point holes in the first half at Southern Connecticut State on October 12 to win 23-21.


Tops in Tackles: Junior linebacker Brian Harrington (Rockland, Mass.) has totaled a Northeast-10 Conference leading 118 tackles (3rd nationally) this season, also leading the Conference with 54 solo stops (18th nationally), while his 64 tackle assists lead the NE-10 as well. Harrington's 118 stops has moved him into third on Stonehill's single-season list, '00, just ten shy of Steve Sheeler, '04, who made a program-record 128 tackles in 2003. Harrington has posted a team-high 84 tackles against the rush this season, with 26 against the pass and three on special teams.

Top Target: Junior wide receiver Nate Robitaille (Attleboro, Mass.) has surpassed the program's single-season records for receptions and receiving yards this season. His 116 yards on seven receptions against Pace last weekend made him the first player in program history to go over 1,000 receiving yards in a season with his program-record 1,032 yards, breaking the previous mark of 846 yards by former teammate John Gomes, '13, in 2012. Robitaille's 78 receptions has shattered the previous record of 58 catches set by Brian Adamson, '98, in 1996. Robitaille enters this weekend three touchdown receptions shy of the program's single-season record of 13 set by Mike Plichta, '06, in 2005. Robitaille's 8.7 receptions per game is on pace to shatter the previous record of 5.8 per game by Adamson in 1996.

Iron Man: Senior defensive back Tim Bennett (Ventura, Calif.) has started 35-straight games for Stonehill entering this afternoon's game. He ranks 15th among NE-10 leaders with 60 tackles, and his ten career interceptions rank sixth on the program's all-time list. Bennett's 15 career pass breakups are good for eighth all-time.

Twin Streak: Stonehill senior special teamers Pat and John Jenkins (Pittsford, N.Y.) will be suiting up for the 124th consecutive game as teammates this afternoon. The twin brothers streak goes back until they were nine years old with the Fairport (N.Y.) Packers. The duo lead Stonehill in special teams tackles with John totaling nine (7 KO/2 P) and Pat adding eight stops (7 KO/1 P).

Don't Hurt Yourself: Stonehill leads the NE-10 and ranks eighth nationally for both fewest penalties per game (4.22) and fewest penalty yards per game (34.67), ranking tenth nationally for that category.


In the Zone: Stonehill leads the Northeast-10 and 17th nationally for red zone offense, scoring on 87.9-percent (29-of-33) of its trips inside the opponents 20-yard line this season. The Skyhawks enter this weekend's matchup at Merrimack having scored on ten straight trips inside the red zone with nine touchdown and one field goal in that span. The Skyhawks have scored 25 touchdowns (10 rushing, 15 passing) and kicked four field goals for its 29 red zone scores this season.

We Could Be Here A While: Stonehill features a combined 21 freshmen and sophomores in this week's two deep. 13 freshmen are among the 21 underclassmen on the two deep and seven underclassmen are slated to start this afternoon.

Handy Ryan: Junior Ryan Handy (Howell, N.J.) ranks second among NE-10 leaders for punts (50) and punting average (40.0 yds/punt). He has a long of 68 yards and ranks second in the NE-10 with 13 punts inside the opponent's 20 yard line. Handy's punting average ranks 42nd nationally in Division II and is on pace to set a new program record, topping Sean Donahue's '08, single-season best of 39.53 yards per punt in 2007. His 38.77 career average is also on pace to break Joe Crowley's, '04, record of 37.84 from 2000-03.

We've Got It Covered: Stonehill ranks 13th nationally for punt return defense, allowing just 3.3 yards per return and Stonehill is ranked 14th nationally for net punting (37.4).

Big D: Stonehill ranks third in the Northeast-10 for scoring defense, yielding 25.1 points per game, and passing defense, allowing 251.2 yards per game. The Skyhawks have also held its last two opponents under 100 yards rushing. Stonehill ranks 16th nationally for red zone defense, holding opponents to 64-percent (21-for-33) from the 20 yard line in, with the opposition scoring 18 touchdowns on 33 red zone trips (55%) this season.

Go For It!: Stonehill lead the Northeast-10  in fourth down conversion percentage, gaining first down on 54-percent (7-for-13) of its attempts on fourth down this season. The Skyhawks have scored two touchdowns on fourth down this season.

Slow Starters: Stonehill has been outscored 59-34 in the first quarter this season. The Skyhawks have recovered to hold a 79-65 advantage in the second quarter, 68-44 in the third quarter and a dominant 91-55 advantage in the fourth quarter. Stonehill holds a 165-102 scoring advantage (18.3-11.3) in the second half this year.

Getting Social: Fans and media members of Stonehill athletics now have two social media outlets to get updates on all 20 varsity programs. The department's Facebook page is, and you can also follow @SkyhawkTalk on Twitter!

On Deck: Stonehill will compete for its first Northeast-10 Conference Championship next Saturday against American International College. The title game will be in Springfield, Mass., if AIC beats Southern Connecticut State this afternoon, but would be at W.B. Mason Stadium with an AIC loss and Stonehill win today. The Skyhawks would also most likely earn an NCAA Tournament bid with wins today and next weekend, with first round action commencing on Saturday, November 23.