Dover, Del. (Oct. 19, 2019) --- Merrimack scored the last 16 points of the game to surge past Delaware State 30-21 at Alumni Stadium this afternoon. The Hornets, who led on three occasions in the game, lost their fifth straight to fall to 1-6, while the Warriors improved to 3-4.
Merrimack is in the first of a four-year transition to full Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) status and membership in the Northeast Conference (NEC).
Quarterback Christian Carter completed 18-of-37 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 64 yards and a score to lead the Warriors, who won the total yardage battle 374-331.
Bryant Dallas rushed for a career-best 102 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Tylik Bethea connected on 11-of-22 passes for 166 yards and a score for the Hornets.
Delaware State was also plagued by two turnovers and seven penalties for 80 yards. Merrimack was turnover-free and flagged just five times for 24 yards in the contest.
The Hornets started quickly, using seven running plays to march 77 yards, capped off by a 33-yard touchdown run by Dallas, on the opening possession of the game. The extra point kick by Jose Romo-Martinez gave DSU a 7-0 lead just three-minutes-17 seconds into the contest.
Dallas rushed for 49 yards, while Richard Harris ran for 28 during the drive.
After an exchange of punts, Merrimack took advantage of a Delaware State turnover to even the game. Six plays after Bethea lost a fumble on a sack, the Warriors scored a touchdown on a 13 yard pass from Carter to Johnny Rosario later in the first quarter. The extra point tied the score at 7-7 with 6:23 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Hornets benefitted from good field position after a short punt by the Warriors to regain the lead on a touchdown late in the first quarter. Two plays after starting a possession at the Merrimack 38, Dallas scored his second touchdown of the game on a five-yard run. Bethea had a career-best 29 yard run and a personal foul penalty on the Warriors set up the Dallas touchdown run. After the extra point, DSU led 14-7 with 31 seconds left in the first quarter.
Merrimack used a long drive to even the contest again early in the second quarter. The Warriors marched 74 yards on 13 plays, capped off by an 11-yard scoring run by Carter, who rushed for 34 yards during the five-minute-46 second drive. The score was 14-14 after the point-after kick by Merrimack’s Cory Resendes with 9:42 remaining in the second quarter.
The Hornets needed just 16 seconds to regain the lead.
On the first play of the ensuing DSU possession, Bethea connected with fellow freshman Corahn Alleyne on a 72-yard touchdown pass and run for the first collegiate touchdown for the Hornet receiver. The pass play was DSU’s longest since Jack McDaniels and Nyfease West hooked up for 81 yards at West Virginia in 2017.
Alleyne led all players with 89 receiving yards on two catches in the game. The touchdown gave Delaware State a 21-14 lead with 9:26 to go before halftime.
Merrimack again tied the game later in the second quarter on a 42-yard touchdown run by Jamari Venter and extra point with 6:04 left in the second quarter.
The Warriors led for the first time in the game, 24-21, on a 30-yard field goal by Resendes on the final play of the second quarter.
Resendes kicked a 25-yard field goal in the third quarter and added a 39-yard three-pointer in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
The Hornets were held to just 80 yards on 24 plays in their five second half possession.
Defensive back Juwain Granger led Delaware State with nine tackles, each unassisted. He also had two pass break-ups in the game. Linebacker Pontraille Gray was second on the team with seven tackles, including four solo stops.
The Hornets return to MEAC action next week at North Carolina Central. Game time is 2:00 p.m. in Durham, N.C.
The Hornets have had 100 rushers in back-to-back games … Harris ran for 151 at Morgan State last week.