Football Rallies Past Merrimack, 24-20

Sophomore Matt Foltz engineered his first career fourth quarter comeback, finishing with three touchdowns. (PHOTO BY Chuck Bitner)

Foltz and Lutton erase ten point fourth quarter deficit for Skyhawks

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (September 11, 2015) – Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll, has won its first two games of the season for the first time in five years after erasing a ten point fourth quarter deficit to claim a 24-20 triumph over Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference football action at Martone-Mejail Field tonight.

Sophomore quarterback Matt Foltz (Mount Joy, Pennsylvania/The Hill School) engineered his first career fourth quarter comeback effort as he connected with freshmen tight end Kaleb Lutton (Middletown, Connecticut/Xavier) for a pair of touchdowns in the final quarter. Foltz finished with 256 total yards on the night as he completed 22-of-36 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions, while adding another 25 yards on 11 carries.

Lutton caught three passes for 35 yards, but collected his first two career touchdown passes from Foltz from nine and 20 yards in the fourth quarter comeback. The second came with 3:08 remaining in the contest to give the Skyhawks the lead for good. Senior co-captain Gordon McLeod (Weymouth, Massachusetts/BC High) added three receptions for 64 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown catch. Classmate Colin Markus (Monroe, Connecticut/Masuk) chipped in with 18 carries for 79 yards on the ground.         

The Stonehill defense again shined, limiting the high-powered Merrimack offense to just 188 total yards and ten first downs, with 171 yards through the air and a mere 17 on the ground. Only one of the Warriors touchdowns came on a sustained offensive drive as they scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter one play after a fumble recovery and then added a touchdown off a blocked punt in the fourth quarter.

Dante Brito, Jr., led the Skyhawks defense with a career-high six tackles.

Senior Dante Brito, Jr. (New Haven, Connecticut/Hampden Hall Country Day), junior Anthony Leggio (Commack, New York/Saint Anthony's) and sophomore Nick Bona (Peabody, Massachusetts/Bishop Fenwick) all posted team and career-highs with six tackles for Stonehill. Brito, Jr., and Bona each had five solo stops, with Brito adding 0.5 tackles for a loss of a yard. Senior Peter Catal (Cornwall, New York/Cornwall) contributed five stops (one solo), including 2.0 for a loss of five yards, with 0.5 sacks for a loss of three and two pass breakups.

Sophomore Joe Capobianco (Oceanside, New York/Lawrence) completed 16-of-26 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown for Merrimack, with no interceptions, while adding a touchdown on the ground. Freshman Marquis Spence (Lodi, New Jersey/Paramus Catholic) caught three of those passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Junior Brian Carroll (Sudbury, Massachusetts/Lincoln-Sudbury) led the Merrimack defense with a game-high 12 tackles (nine solo) with a quarterback hurry. Junior Carey Wells-Jowers (Baltimore, Maryland/Mt. St. Joseph) added seven stops (four solo), including 2.0 for a loss of 12 yards, with 1.0 sacks for a loss of ten and a fumble recovery, which set up the Warriors opening touchdown.

Stonehill held a 10-6 lead with 7:25 remaining in the third quarter after a 38-yard field goal by senior Steve Grzywacz (Manchester, New Hampshire/Manchester Central). The field goal was the 80th of his career, extending his own program career record, and he also finished the night with three extra point conversions, giving him 87 for his career to match the program's career record set by Pat Matthews '95.

Both teams traded punts and then Merrimack took over on its own 20 with two minutes left in the third quarter and took seven plays to go 80 yards for a go ahead touchdown when Capobianco connected with Spence for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 23-seconds remaining in the quarter. Capobianco opened the drive with a 36-yard pass to freshman Juwan Hall (Waterbury, Connecticut/Holy Cross).

Stonehill went three and out on its next possession and then Merrimack freshman Nick Gallo (Schenectady, New York/Schalmont) broke through the line of scrimmage and blocked the punt, which was scooped up by Enrique McFarlane (West Hempstead, New York/West Hempstead) for a touchdown to give the Warriors a 20-10 lead with 14:40 to play.

Kaleb Lutton caught two fourth quarter touchdowns.

Stonehill responded with its first of two fourth quarter touchdown drives as the Skyhawks went 59 yards on seven plays, capped by the nine yard touchdown pass from Foltz to Lutton with 12:03 still to play on third and goal. Stonehill got the ball back after a Merrimack punt from midfield went into the end zone for a touchback with 7:23 on the clock. Foltz drove Stonehill the 80 yards in nine plays, over 4:15, for the go ahead 20-yard touchdown strike to a wide open Lutton with 3:08 remaining. Foltz completed 6-of-7 passes for 55 yards and also added a one yard rush on the drive, converting twice on third down as well.

Stonehill's defense had the answer from there, forcing Merrimack to turn the ball over on downs a minute later to seal the win. Stonehill is now off to a 2-0 start for the first time since posting wins over Curry College (20-14) and Pace University (41-33) in 2010. McLeod's touchdown is the 12th of his career, moving him into sole possession of seventh place in program history.

Capobianco put Merrimack in front midway through the first quarter when he punched the ball in from a yard out after the Warriors recovered a Stonehill fumble at the one on its first play after a Merrimack punt pinned the Skyhawks on the one. The Warriors missed the extra point and then Stonehill took the lead when Foltz connected with McLeod for a 50-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter at the end of an eight play, 85-yard drive. Those proved to be the lone points of the first half as Grzywacz had a 41-yard field goal try blocked.

Stonehill (2-0, 1-0 NE-10) returns to action next Saturday, September 19, for its first home game of the season when it hosts Pace University for a Northeast-10 matchup on Skyhawks Kickoff Weekend, which will include the Presidents' Cup Celebration, at W.B. Mason Stadium at 6 p.m. Merrimack (0-2, 0-1 NE-10) visits Assumption College next Friday night at 7 p.m.

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