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Bryant closes 2021 with 58-14 victory over Merrimack

Andrey Zarur Photography
Andrey Zarur Photography

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Zevi Eckhaus threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns, while Fabrice Mukendi, Ishod Finger and Anthony Frederick all scored a pair of touchdowns as the Bryant University football team closed the 2021 season with a 58-14  victory over Merrimack on Saturday afternoon.

Bryant closes the season with a 7-4 overall record and a 5-2 Northeast Conference record. The seven wins are tied for the second-most in program history, while the 5-2 NEC record marks the best finish in league history for the Black and Gold.

The Bulldogs put up 535 yards of total offense and their 58 points are the most in DI program history. Bryant closed the season with 50+ points, 500+ yards of total offense and 30+ first downs in each of its final two games.

Eckhaus finished 22-of-31 for 317 yards and four scores to close out the best season for a true freshman quarterback in NEC history. Frederick was his favorite target, catching five passes for a career-high 131 yards and two scores. Mukendi rushed for a pair of touchdowns for the second-straight week, while Finger added his first-career multi-TD game.

Defensively, Ryan Saddler led the way with five tackles. Seven other Bulldogs posted three tackles and Ricardo Martinez intercepted a pass.

Game Information
Bryant 58, Merrimack 14
Records: Bryant (7-4, 5-2 NEC), Merrimack (5-6, 2-5)
Location: North Andover, Mass. (Duane Stadium)

Key Moment

  • Bryant scored 28 second-quarter points to build a 35-7 lead at the break.  

How it Happened

  • Bryant's defense set the tone on Saturday, stopping the Warriors on fourth down from the Bryant 26.
  • The Bulldogs' offense then drove 74 yards in nine plays to take the lead for good. David Zorrilla and Macklin Kortebein made third-down receptions before Eckhaus found Frederick in the corner of the endzone for a 19-yard touchdown.
  • Bryant extended its lead with a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive. Jihad Edmond made a 19-yard third-down reception and Mukendi followed with seven-straight rushes to cap the drive. His seventh was a one-yard plunge.
  • The Black and Gold defense forced a three-and-out and the offense used a short field to make it 21-0. Daniel Adeboboye picked up 11 on 3rd-and-10 and Eckhaus followed with an 18-yard run. After a pass interference put the ball at the MC3, Bryant used a perfect play action read to find Edmond in the endzone.
  • Bryant's next scoring drive needed just four plays to go 46 yards. Eckhaus and Frederick connected for a 42-yard gain to set up Finger for a one-yard touchdown run.
  • The Warriors would get on the scoreboard with a nine-play, 70-yard drive. Westin Elliott capped the drive with a two-yard TD run.
  • Bryant got the ball back with 58 seconds left and drove down the field to score before the horn. A 20-yard completion to Zorrilla opened the drive. Merrimack then called a timeout with 17 seconds left as Bryant faced a 4th-and-10. The Bulldogs decided to go for it, however, and Eckhaus connected with Frederick for 29 yards to keep the drive alive. Eckhaus and Frederick connected again on the next play, with Frederick leaping to grab the pass in the front corner of the endzone with four seconds remaining.
  • The Bulldogs opened the second half with a nine-play drive that took six minutes off the clock. Matthew Prochaska made a 29-yard reception on third-and-long to keep the drive alive. Zorrilla made a 24-yard grab on third-and-13 to extend it and Adeboboye capped it with a 12-yard TD reception.
  • Martinez then followed with his second-career interception and the Bulldogs turned it into seven points. A facemask penalty negated a Merrimack interception and Mukendi made it hurt, rushing 15 yards for a touchdown to make it 49-7.
  • Bryant would score its next points on a safety. Ryan Clark and Finger carried the load on Bryant's next scoring drive, with Finger capping the drive with a one-yard plunge.

Stats

  • Bryant outgained Merrimack, 535-308.
  • The Bulldogs finished with 30 first downs.
  • Eckhaus finished 22-of-31 for 317 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. He also rushed for 22 yards.
  • Frederick caught five passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Mukendi rushed for 81 yards and two TDs on 12 carries. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry.
  • Finger rushed for 29 yards and two scores.
  • Adeboboye added 60 yards on 10 carries and also caught five passes for 29 yards and a touchdown.
  • Zorrilla caught three passes for 57 yards.
  • Edmond posted three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.
  • Luke Samperi made all eight extra-point attempts.
  • Saddler led Bryant with five tackles.
  • Martinez posted an interception.  

Game Notes

  • Bryant's seven wins are its most since it won eight games in 2014. It is the fifth time in 14 seasons at the DI level that Bryant has won seven games.
  • Bryant won five NEC games for just the second time in DI program history (2011). The 5-2 finish is Bryant's best winning percentage in NEC history.
  • The Bulldogs posted 500+ yards of total offense and 50+ points in back-to-back games for the first time in program history.
  • Bryant's 58 points are its most in DI program history, topping the previous high of 56 in 2018.
  • The Bulldogs finished the year with 22 rushing touchdowns, their highest since 2011.
  • Eckhaus threw 2+ touchdown passes in each of his last eight games.
  • Eckhaus finished with 21 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.
  • Eckhaus becomes just the fifth different quarterback to throw 20+ TDs in a single season. His 21 TD passes are tied for the fourth-most in program history.
  • Eckhaus finished with 2,392 passing yards, the fourth-most in program history. His 233 completions are the second-most in program history.
  • Adeboboye finished his career with 1,816 rushing yards and 19 career touchdowns.
  • Mukendi posted multiple TD runs for the second-straight week.
  • Mukendi's nine rushing touchdowns are the most by a freshman in program history and the most by a Bulldog since 2015. The nine TD runs are tied for eighth all-time.
  • Frederick posted his third multi-TD game of the year. He finished the year with eight TD receptions, tied for the fourth-most in program history.
  • Zorrilla finished the year with 47 catches for 623 yards. The 47 catches are tied for the seventh-most in program history, while the 623 yards are the 10th-most.
  • For a career, Zorrilla surpassed the 1,000 receiving yard plateau. He finishes with 86 catches for 1,017 yards.
  • Finger posted his first-career multi-TD game.
  • Edmond caught his second-career touchdown.
  • Samperi tied his own program record with eight PATs in a single game. He finishes the year 39-of-40 on PATs and closes his career 97-of-105. The 97 PATs are the third-most in history.
  • Samperi led Bryant with 60 points and finished his career with 163 points.
  • Martinez posted his second-career interception.
  • Saddler's five tackles give him 91 for the season. The 91.0 tackles are tied for the seventh-most in program history.