DOVER — Most of C.J. Henry’s first collegiate start was spent either running for his life or being helped from the ground by his teammates.
The Merrimack College defense sacked Henry seven times and never let him get comfortable as Delaware State slumped to a 26-13 defeat Saturday afternoon in a nonconference contest. The Hornets (2-2) were held to just 164 yards of total offense.
“It wasn’t a challenge. It was effort from the naked eye,” said Hornet coach Rod Milstead about the seven sacks.
“I have to go back and watch the film but we need more effort from our offensive line and a sense of urgency. They ran some schemes that we knew were coming but mental breakdowns killed us today.”
Henry received the start at quarterback in place of Jared Lewis who was injured last week in the first quarter against Virginia Lynchburg.
The former Delaware High School Offensive Player of the Year at Hodgson threw for 132 yards on 7-of-19 attempts. The bulk of his passing yards came on two plays — a 52-yard catch by Jerrish Halsey and a 32-yard reception by Devin Curry.
Lewis, who is dealing with a bruise, started the first three games of the season for Delaware State but has missed the last seven quarters. Henry threw for three touchdowns in relief of Lewis last week but was kept off the scoreboard against Merrimack (2-2).
“It’s tough. We should have gave him (Henry) more protection up front but also he lacked maturity, he’s young, I’m not saying that to be negative,” Milstead said.
“He’s a young quarterback in Division I and it’s tough. Last week he did a really good job but there wasn’t a lot of pressure on him. This week, there was a lot of pressure on him. They were going to put a lot of pressure on him and make him make decisions. Some were good, some were not that good.”
Milstead said Lewis will be the starter again once he is healthy.
“We got to get Jared back,” Milstead said. “That’s the bottom line. He’s our starting quarterback and C.J. is our backup. Once we get all our guys healthy and healed, we’ll have some different production.”
Delaware State did not record a first down on three offensive possessions in the first quarter, allowing Merrimack to race out to a 14-0 lead. Victor Dawson opened the scoring with a 2-yard rush before the next possession where Warrior wide receiver Jacari Carter took a handoff in the backfield and launched a deep pass to Jelani Mason to make it 14-0.
The Hornets made it into the red zone twice after that but had to settle for field goals by Nathan Wilson from 22 yards and 27 yards.
Merrimack added a touchdown on a 10-yard run by Tyvon Edmonds followed by a safety on a sack of Henry in the end zone to extend their lead to 23-6. Thomas Bertrand-Hudon scored a three-yard rushing touchdown for the Hornets with 12:04 left but that was as close as they would come.
“You can’t spot somebody 14 points and expect to come back,” Milstead said. “It’s tough and that’s what took place.”