Football Seniors Win Final Game 28-27 at Southern Connecticut

New Haven, CT – After back-to-back weeks of losing second half leads, the Merrimack football team put together a great second half, coming back from 13 down to win 28-27 at Southern Connecticut State on Saturday. Merrimack scored a touchdown in the third and fourth quarters to finish off the comeback.

Merrimack closed out the 2011 season with a victory to improve their record to 6-4, 5-3 NE-10 on the season.

Senior quarterback James Suozzo (Everett, Mass.), in his final collegiate game, led all players with 319 total yards and three total touchdowns.

"It's the biggest win since I've been here," said head coach John Perry, who completes his fourth season at Merrimack. "These kids have the heart and character of champions. They fought through adversity."

Southern Connecticut opened up the scoring at the 11:53 mark of the first quarter as Jimon Hill (North Chicago, Ill.) was stripped and Kamal Mgaresh scooped up the free ball and brought it back 16 yards for the 7-0 lead.

The Warriors responded on the very next drive as Suozzo connected on a 21 yard strike to tight end Steve Serwon (Amesbury, Mass.) for the score. The extra point was converted to make the score 7-7.
Merrimack looked like they were going to take the lead later in the first quarter but Suozzo was intercepted and the ball was returned to Merrimack's 45 yard line. On the very next play running back Rashaad Slowley broke free for a 45 yard scamper to give Southern Connecticut the 14-7 lead.
With under a minute to go in the first quarter the Warriors yet again responded with a touchdown of their own as Hill broke tackles and fought his way to the end zone from 16 yards out to tie the game, 14-14.

Southern Connecticut did not waste any time however, as they tacked on a field goal on the ensuing drive. The Owl's lead was pushed to 10 after Slowley broke off a 65 yard touchdown run with 7:01 remaining in the first half of play.

The second half started with Southern Connecticut extending their lead to 13 after a 33 yard field goal by Chris Hazelton.

Merrimack's defense began to step up after the 13 point deficit starred them straight in the face. The Warriors forced a three and out midway through the third quarter. Isaiah Voegeli (Hyannis, Mass.) took the ensuing punt back 46 yards, setting up a six yard rushing touchdown by Suozzo on the very next play. The point after attempt was converted cutting the Owl's lead to 27-21.

The third quarter turned into an offensive struggle as both defenses played very well.

The fourth quarter started off with a turnover on downs by the Owls as Michael Wiggins (Dolton, Ill.) sacked Kevin Lynch for a two yard loss, handing the ball over to Suozzo and the Warriors offense. Suozzo did not waste much time as he connected with Shane Ferguson (Point Pleasant Beach, NJ) on a 23 yard strike to enter Owls territory. Suozzo then connected with Voegeli down to the Southern Connecticut 33 yard line. Hill would take the ball down to the three yard line before Suozzo connected on a three yard touchdown with Serwon for his second receiving touchdown of the day. The Serwon touchdown came on a fourth down and goal and it proved to be the game winning score.

The Merrimack defense held strong and forced Southern Connecticut to give the ball back to the offense with 6:48 remaining in the game. The Merrimack offense wore the clock down to nine seconds before giving it back to the Owls on downs. The Owls final chance at a winning score was cut short as senior T.J. Peloquin (Southington, CT), playing in his final game, sacked Lynch for a five yard loss, sealing the victory for the Warriors.

"This was the biggest win since I took over the job at Merrimack," said head coach John Perry. "These kids have the heart and character of champions."

Playing in his last collegiate game, quarterback James Suozzo finished off his allustrious Merrimack career with a great performance as he recorded 262 passing yards, 57 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Hill finished the game over the 100 yard plateau for the second consecutive week, gaining 127 yards and scoring once. Isaiah Voegeli finished off his outstanding season with eight receptions for 109 yards in the victory. Serwon finished with his best performance of the season with four catches for 56 yards and two scores.

Defensively All American Shawn Loiseau (Shrewsbury, Mass.) finished off his career with six tackles in the victory. Loiseau finished the season with 114 tackles, marking the third consecutive season with 100 plus tackles and finished his career with 375 tackles, ranking him third all-time in NE-10 conference history. Wiggins put together one of his strongest games of the season as he finished with 10 total tackles including two for a loss and one sack. Tony Johnson (Lynn, Mass.) played his final game in a Warrior jersey and produced two tackles, a fumble recovery, three pass breakups and three quarterback hurries. Sophomore Jimmy Holland (Billerica, Mass.) had a solid game as he finished with eight total tackles including 1.5 for a loss.