WALTHAM, Mass. – After securing win number one of the season with a 21-point fourth quarter at Southern Connecticut Friday afternoon, the Bentley University Falcons will turn their sights to Saturday's Homecoming Day game against Merrimack College. Kickoff is slated for 2 pm with the Falcons seeking their eighth win in their last 11 Northeast-10 games.
Bentley, which will be looking for its fourth straight Homecoming win, is off to a 1-1 start, following up an opening-day loss to West Chester University with the 24-22 win at Southern in a game that was delayed from Thursday night to Friday afternoon due to lightning.
Merrimack, which announced plans to elevate its programs to Division I on Monday, has dropped its first two games this season. The Warriors have fallen to Bloomsburg University and Assumption College by an aggregate score of 79-35.
Bentley's win at Southern was a tale of two halves with the Falcons outscored 16-0 and outgained 272-22 during the first 22 minutes. Coach Bill Kavanaugh's team got on the board with a field goal in the opening minutes of the third quarter and turned the game around with two TDs in a span of 18 seconds in the first minute of the fourth.
Sophomore QB and NE10 Rookie of the Week Seamus Leary (Holden/St. Peter Marian HS) threw a nine-yard scoring pass to senior Jordan Zlogar (Clifton Park, N.Y./Shenendehowa HS) for Bentley's first TD of 2018. On the Owls' next play from scrimmage, Bentley used a pick-six by junior corner Derek Perkins (Milton/Milton HS) to take a 17-16 lead.
Leary took over at quarterback for Bentley at half and responded by completing 10 of 13 passes for 117 yards in his collegiate debut. He also ran for 51 yards, including a seven-yard TD run with 4:28 to play.
Leary replaced sophomore Stephen Sturm (Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley HS), who has yet to display the form he did a year ago when he completed 73 percent of his passes and threw for 16 TDs. In three halves of action this season, he's only 13 of 29 for 65 yards.
Zlogar is Bentley's leading receiver (9 for 100) while sophomore Andrew Brazicki (Franklin Lake, N.J./Bishop Ahr HS) has been the top rusher with 132 yards.
Senior linebacker Andrew Carmichael (Wayland/Wayland HS) leads Bentley in tackles with 14, one more than senior safety Nick Athy (Holliston/Holliston HS) and freshman defensive lineman Cedric Dashiell II (Buena Park, Calif./Buena Park HS).
The kicking game has been solid for Bentley thus far with junior Grant Buchanan (Holliston/ Holliston HS) perfect on three field goal attempts and three PATs and classmate Jack O'Hanlon (South Huntington, N.Y./Chaminade HS) owning the 12th best punting average in Division II (45.3).
Merrimack's offense has featured senior Cody Demers, the number two receiver in the NE10 through two weeks. He's caught 19 balls for 201 yards and two of the Warriors' four touchdowns.
Freshman Christian Carter has been behind center for the Warriors and he has been responsible for 540 of the team's 675 yards of total offense. He has yet to be intercepted (79 attempts) while completing 51 percent of his aerials for 451 yards. In addition, he's the team's top rusher with 89 yards on 22 carries.
The defense features 330-pound defensive tackle Jesse Jones, a first-team All-Northeast-10 performer a year ago. Merrimack's leading tackler is sophomore strong safety Jovan Grant with 19.
Bentley will be looking for its third straight win in the series after taking care of the Warriors 17-7 last season and 41-22 in 2016. In last year's contest, Martin Bannerman Jr. rushed for two TDs and the Falcon D came up with four interceptions, including three in the end zone.
After facing Merrimack, Bentley will close out the month of September on the road with the Falcons visiting LIU Post Sept. 22 and New Haven the following Saturday.
FALCON FACTS: Bentley is 15-10 all-time against Merrimack and is seeking to string together three straight victories against the Warriors for the first time since 2005-07 … As a team, Bentley is fifth in Division II in net punting (45.2), fifth in fewest penalty yards (24.5) and seventh in fewest penalties (3.5).