Merrimack falls to Timberlane

Pain brought unto oneself is most unbearable, and the Merrimack football team was unable to overcome the self-sabotage Friday night against Timberlane.

The Tomahawks turned the ball over five times and gave up a seven-point halftime lead en route to losing 16-7 to the host Owls. Timberlane turned two of those takeaways into a combined nine points.

Merrimack controlled a tenacious first half that saw neither team take a snap inside the other’s 25-yard line. Both teams tried to power their way through the other, but the defenses remained stout. The Tomahawks took the lead when Kyle Talbot found Andrew DeGregorio for a 40-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone late in the second quarter.

“Obviously we wanted to run the ball,” Merrimack coach Dante Laurendi said. “He’s a backup quarterback so our passing game is limited, but I thought he did a good job trying to make some plays and keep some things alive.”

Talbot threw interceptions on consecutive possessions in the third quarter that gave Timberlane a starting field position inside the Merrimack 35 yard line both times. The Owls exploited the field position with a 23-yard field goal followed by a perfectly executed fade route from Jason Hughes to Jacob Post to put Timberlane ahead for good. Hughes scampered in off a bootleg from 5 yards out with just over three minutes remaining to ice the win for the Owls.

Merrimack didn’t get past their own 40-yard line in the second half until there was less than three minutes to go.

“We battled field position the second half,” Laurendi said. “When you got to punt out of you end zone, and play from behind, that hurts and sooner or later they made some plays. We just didn’t make enough when we had to offensively.

“It’s very frustrating because you’re doing some good things and keep moving and then stop. That’s the nature of the game. It was a good, hard-fought football game on both sides. Both teams played hard. We lost the battle of field position, and they took advantage of it.”

The Tomahawks got a solid all-around game from Tyler DeNeill. The sophomore played defensive end, linebacker, running back, and quarterback.

He stuck his nose into the fray as much as he could on defense, and he rushed for 35 yards offensively.

“He’s an exciting player,” Laurendi said of DeNeill. “He wants the ball in his hands. He plays both sides and he plays full-bore all the time. He wants to make plays for us.”