NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – It was a record setting day for the Southern Connecticut State University football team on Saturday, as the Owls won their second straight contest with a resounding 49-32 win over Merrimack. Junior quarterback Kevin Lynch (Medfield, Mass.) set a new school record with 443 passing yards and tied a school mark with six touchdown passes.
Sophomore wide receiver Willie Epps (Norwalk, Conn.) set a new single-game record with 254 receiving yards – and together, the duo hooked up on a 97-yard touchdown strike that also established a new school record.
The Owls improved to 5-4, 5-2 in Northeast-10 Conference play with the win. Merrimack is now 3-6, 3-5. SCSU can claim its 10th consecutive winning season with a triumph over Saint Anselm in the regular season finale next week.
The old mark of 436 passing yards was set by Steve Armstrong in a game against Bryant in 2005. Armstrong and Mike Abate also tossed six touchdowns in a game in 2007 and 2003, respectively. Jeff Cupe’s mark of 241 receiving yards had stood since 2002.
Lastly, the mark for longest touchdown pass, which had stood for nearly 50 years coming into the season, was broken for the second time in the last six games. Jacob Jablonski and Carlton Staggars had connected on a 93-yard pass earlier in the year against Pace.
The Owls took the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards down the field in seven plays, capped by an 18-yard pass from Lynch to Sean Donnelly (Framingham, Mass.). Eric LaVorgna (North Haven, Conn.) added the PAT to make it 7-0.
After a Merrimack punt gave the Owls the ball back, the hosts forced an SCSU fumble and returned it 50 yards the other way for a score that evened the game at 7-7 after the PAT.
Southern Connecticut took control of the game in the second quarter, when it outscored Merrimack by a 21-7 margin. The Owls took a 14-7 lead when Lynch and Epps paired up on the 97-yard strike. Later in the quarter, the duo was at it again, this time on a 46-yard score that extended the cushion to 14 points.
Merrimack closed to within seven after a score on its next possession. However, the Owls restored the 14-point lead at halftime thanks to a three-yard run from Rashaad Slowley (New Rochelle, N.Y.) in the final minute of the opening half.
The Owls extended their lead to 35-14 when Lynch found Donnelly again, this time from five yards out, just less than four minutes into the third quarter. Merrimack answered quickly to close to 35-20, but the Owls had more answers. Lynch hit Andre Privott (Middletown, Conn.) on an eight-yard touchdown that made it 42-20 after three quarters.
John Wiechman (Buxton, Maine) scored on a 10-yard reception from Lynch just 38 seconds into the fourth quarter to pad the Southern Connecticut lead to 49-20. Merrimack would add two scores to close to 49-32, but the Owls kept it off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
Lynch finished 22-of-31 on the day. In addition to Epps’ nine catches, Privott had five catches for 75 yards. Wiechman led the backs with 73 yards on 16 carries. Nathan Tyler (West Hartford, Conn.) led the defense with eight tackles.