Football Grounds Merrimack, 31-6

Sophomore Mike Cordova logged his first career 100-yard rushing afternoon, scoring two touchdowns. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Cordova paces offense with career-high 115 yards, two TDs
Defense responds with shutout after early Merrimack score

EASTON, Mass. (October 1, 2016) – Stonehill College pounded out nearly 200 yards on the ground and reeled off 31 unanswered points to claim a decisive 31-6 victory over Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference football action before a Family Weekend crowd at Timothy J. Coughlin '80 Memorial Field at W.B. Mason Stadium this afternoon.

Sophomore running back Mike Cordova (Monroe, New Jersey/Red Bank Catholic) led a Stonehill rushing attack that racked up 197 yards with his first career 100-yard effort, finishing with a career-best 115 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. He totaled a game-high 134 all-purpose yards by adding a 19 yard kickoff return for the afternoon. Five different Skyhawk running backs had touches in the game, with junior Dylan Brown (Tinton Falls, New Jersey/Monmouth Regional) chipping in with nine carries for 41 yards and a score.

The Stonehill defense was equally as impressive, limiting Merrimack to 151 total yards, with 106 passing and 45 on the ground, the bulk of which came in the fourth quarter after the outcome was sealed. The Skyhawks responded to a Merrimack touchdown on its opening possession by keeping the Warriors off the scoreboard the rest of the way, limiting them to 41 total yards in the first half – 43 of which came on the first possession – and 71 total yards through three quarters. Merrimack had just nine first downs, including two on the opening possession, three in the first half and five through three quarters.

Junior Andy Steck blocked two punts, the second of which was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Senior safety Justin Kaffenberger (Monroe, New York/Monroe-Woodbury) finished with a team-high nine tackles for Stonehill, while sophomore Billy Wingo (Gwynn Oak, Maryland/The Boys' Latin School of Maryland) added a career-high six stops (three solo), including a sack for a loss of a yard. Senior Vincent Burton (Randolph, Massachusetts/Blue Hills Regional) contributed a career-high 2.5 sacks for a loss of ten, finishing with three tackles in all, while senior Andrew Kibarian (Lynnfield, Massachusetts/Lynnfield) registered four tackles (one solo), with 1.5 sacks for a loss of ten, a forced fumble and quarterback hurry.

Junior Andy Steck (Port Jefferson Station, New York/Comsewogue) shined on special teams for Stonehill with two blocked punts, both leading to scoring opportunities, the second of which was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by freshman Brian Kearns, Jr. (North Arlington, New Jersey/Saint Joseph Regional) to give Stonehill a 24-6 lead with 8:32 remaining in the third quarter and essentially sealed the victory.

Sophomore Brenton Martin (Marietta, Georgia) led Merrimack with 92 all-purpose yards as caught five passes for 53 yards, added 34 yards on two kickoff returns and rushed for five more yards. Senior quarterback Nick Davis (Oxnard, California) was limited to 106 yards passing on 11-of-25 attempts and was sacked five times. Sophomore Shamik Perry (Bowie, Maryland) rushed the ball six times for 41 yards – most coming on a 31-yard run on the last play of the game.

Senior Josh Hill (Glastonbury, Connecticut) led the Merrimack defense with a game-high 11 tackles (four solo), including 2.5 for a loss of 22 yards, with 2.0 sacks. Sophomore Aaron Mack (Stoughton, Massachusetts) added ten stops (eight solo), while senior Matt Clifford (Billerica, Massachusetts) chipped in seven tackles (four solo), including 1.5 for a loss of five.

Senior Vincent Burton registered a career-best 2.5 sacks today. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Stonehill was pinned deep on its own eight yard line after a penalty on the opening possession of the game, with Merrimack getting its first possession at the Skyhawks 43 after the punt following a three and out by the hosts. The Warriors struck for the opening score on just four plays, capped by a two yard keeper by Davis three minutes into the game.

Stonehill blocked the extra point and was able to take the lead for good when Cordova capped a seven play, 43-yard drive on the Skyhawks fourth possession with a two yard touchdown run with 1:15 to play in the first quarter after the Skyhawks gained just one first down through its first three possessions.

Stonehill extended its lead to 10-7 with a 28-yard field goal from freshman Matthew Haite (Kingston, Massachusetts/Silver Lake Regional) 3:07 into the second quarter. The Skyhawks forced a Merrimack three and out and then marched 56 yards in ten plays for a one yard touchdown run by Brown with 5:20 remaining in the half to cap a possession that ate 5:20 off the clock.

Stonehill opened the second half with Steck blocking Merrimack's first two punt attempts after three and outs, the second of which was recovered by Kearns, Jr., for his first career touchdown with 8:32 remaining. Stonehill closed out the scoring on its first possession of the fourth quarter as Cordova added his second touchdown of the afternoon with a one-yard plunge with 11:09 remaining.

Stonehill (2-3, 2-2 NE-10) hits the road next Saturday to visit American International College for an NE-10 matchup at 1 p.m. The Skyhawks return home on Saturday, October 15, to host the University of New Haven for a matchup which will be broadcast by ESPN3 as part of the NCAA Division II Football Showcase at 6 p.m. Tickets for the October 15 game will be available Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 2 PM in the Athletic Department offices located on the second floor of the Sally Blair Ames Sports Complex. Merrimack (1-4, 1-3 NE-10) hosts New Haven next Saturday at 1 p.m.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.

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