Courtesy: Southern CT Sports Publicity
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Leading by a touchdown and in possession of the football in the closing minutes of regulation, the Southern Connecticut State University football team seemed on its way to victory against Merrimack College today. However, the Warriors used a blocked punt and an interception to score twice in a stretch of 2:02 en route to a 21-14 win over the Owls on Senior Day.
SCSU dropped to 3-7 and 3-6 in Northeast-10 play. Merrimack is now 6-4 and 5-4. By virtue of today’s result, the Owls (No. 8 finisher) will play AIC (No. 7 finisher), in the final game of the regular season next Saturday at noon in Springfield, Mass.
Quarterback Robert Nittolo (Hillsborough, N.J.) was 18-of-36 for 182 yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Devante Jenkins (Carson, Calif.) moved closer to Southern’s single-season reception record with eight catches for 86 yards and a score.
The Owls’ defense held Merrimack to just 259 yards and forced two turnovers. Freshman Jarred Moorer (Waterbury, Conn.) had eight tackles to lead the defense. Vasilios Grigorakos (Port Washington, N.Y.) had seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Justin Potts (Meriden, Conn.) had five tackles and an interception, while Jamie Holbrook (Milton, Vt.) posted five tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Owls took the lead 2:29 into the second frame. Nittolo found Jenkins for a leaping eight-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring. Evan Nelson (Madison, Conn.) hit the PAT to ca an eight play, 52-yard drive.
Merrimack tied the game later in the quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run from Nick Davis.
The Owls regained the lead midway through the fourth quarter. After Holbrook’s fumble recovery gave SCSU the ball at the Merrimack 32, the hosts needed six plays to punch it in for the go-ahead score. Nittolo capped the drive with a two-yard run before Nelson added the PAT for a 14-7 lead.
SCSU appeared on its way to the win, with the ball and momentum late in regulation. However, a blocked punt with just over four minutes to go gave the Warriors the ball at the Owls’ 44. Davis hit Devin O’Reilly on an 11-yard pass to tie it at 14 afterthe PAT.
The Owls got the ball back but tossed an interception, giving Merrimack the ball at the Owls’ 36 with 1:44 to play. The Warriors used up 71 seconds before Derrick Villard took it in from five yards out.