Parsons Comes Off Bench To Throw For Four Touchdowns, Runs For Fifth Score As Football Closes Out 2005 Campaign On High Note With 48-28 Northeast-10 Victory At Merrimack

November 5, 2005


Saturday, November 5, 2005

Warrior Field, North Andover, Mass.



Stonehill (4-6, 4-5 Northeast-10)1414713- 48

Merrimack (4-6, 3-6 Northeast-10)14077- 28


MER:David Leach 18 yd pass from Colin Temple (Ryan Kelley kick)12:52 1st

STO:Kevin Avitabile 1 yd run (Sean Donahue kick)10:28 1st

MER:Andrew Jackson 81 yd kickoff return (Kelley kick)10:13 1st

STO:Mike Plichta 4 yd pass from Cruz Parsons (Donahue kick)0:57 1st

STO:Paul Stone 32 yd pass from Parsons (Donahue kick)9:33 2nd

STO:Plichta 20 yd pass from Parsons (Donahue kick)0:12 2nd

STO:Parsons 20 yd run (Donahue kick)11:32 3rd

MER:Leach 5 yd run (Kelley kick)7:07 3rd

STO:Jon Nunley-Kilborn 40 yd pass from Parsons (kick failed)11:42 4th

STO:Mike DeBye 35 yd interception return (Donahue kick)5:38 4th

MER:J.D. Wild 2 yd run (Kelley kick)2:00 4th


NORTH ANDOVER, Mass.-- Freshman quarterback Cruz Parsons (Signal Hill, Calif.) came off the bench to throw four touchdown passes and rush for a fifth score as Stonehill closed out its 2005 season with a 48-28 Northeast-10 Conference football victory over Merrimack in the season finale for both teams Saturday afternoon at Warrior Field.

Parsons entered the game late in the first quarter and fired three touchdown strikes before the half that enabled the visiting Skyhawks (4-6, 4-5 Northeast-10) to turn a 14-7 deficit into a 28-14 halftime advantage. Parsons hooked up with senior Mike Plichta (Milford, Mass.) on scoring passes of four and 20 yards, respectively, that sandwiched a 32-yard hook-up with junior Paul Stone (Somerville, Mass.), and he extended Stonehills lead to 35-14 early in the third quarter on a 20-yard touchdown run. Parsons, who tied the Skyhawk single-game touchdown passes mark earlier this season with six against Saint Anselm, connected with fellow freshman Jon Nunley-Kilborn (Dartmouth, Mass.) for his fourth score of the day for Stonehill, as Parsons completed 18-of-33 attempts for 270 yards while amassing 305 of the visitors 400 yards of total offense.

A wild start to the contest saw the host Warriors (4-6, 3-6 Northeast-10) grab that early 14-7 lead, as the two teams combined for three touchdowns in a 2:39 span. Freshman David Leach (Chelmsford, Mass.) began the scoring for Merrimack when he hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Colin Temple (Rutland, Vt.), but after the Warriors regained possession after a punt, Temple fumbled at his own 1-yard line after a sack by freshman George Whetstone (Westwood, Mass.) and a recovery by senior Peter Gati (Manchester, N.H.), and junior Kevin Avitabile (Bridgewater, Mass.) cashed in for Stonehill with a one-yard plunge to tie the game. Merrimack freshman Andrew Jackson (New Britain, Conn.) then ran the ensuing kickoff back 81 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead for the hosts, setting up Parsons entry into the contest and four unanswered visits to the end zone by the Skyhawks.

Leachs five-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter enabled Merrimack to close to within 35-21, but Nunley-Kilborns scoring grab coupled with a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore Mike DeBye (Burlington, Mass.), his second of the season, gave Stonehill a late 48-21 cushion, as a two-yard scamper by Warrior freshman J.D. Wild (Marthas Vineyard, Mass.) closed out the scoring.

Plichta, who set a Stonehill single-season record with 13 touchdown receptions as a senior, enjoyed the second highest receiving yardage game of his career with eight catches for 138 yards, as he and Parsons hooked up for 11 touchdown connections on the season. Avitabile added 78 all-purpose yards (42 rushing) for the Skyhawks on the day, as he and Nunley-Kilborn combined for nine catches and 113 receiving yards. Stonehill converted 9-of-17 attempts on third down as compared to just 5-of-15 for Merrimack, as the Skyhawks forced six Warrior turnovers, including three fumbles as well as interceptions by DeBye, sophomore J.J. Niamkey (Quincy, Mass.) and freshman Jared Zanello (Walpole, Mass.). Junior Tony Pires (Taunton, Mass.) paced the visitors with nine total tackles, while Whetstone and junior Vincent Delaney (Baltimore, Md.) each added eight stops for Stonehill.

Temple finished with 83 passing yards and a touchdown on the day for Merrimack before being injured, as senior Mike Hurley (Reading, Mass.) came off the bench to complete just 4-of-18 attempts for the Warriors for 43 yards and all three Stonehill interceptions. Leach and Wild combined for 114 rushing yards for the hosts, who amassed 296 yards of total offense on the day, while freshman Scott Hayden (Chicago, Ill.) led Merrimack defensively with 13 total tackles.

Home field advantage again meant nothing in todays contest, as for the ninth time in the 10-game varsity series meeting between the two teams the visitor emerged as victorious. Stonehill finished the year with its highest win total in four seasons and its highest conference finish (sixth) in eight seasons, and Parsons finished his rookie campaign with 13 touchdown passes, the fourth highest single-season total in school history. The Skyhawks 48 points marks Stonehill highest scoring total in a game since a 45-point output against Mount Ida in 2002.