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Merrimack football tackles next challenge: AIC

Dan Curran likes to play the game fast. Real fast.

“Be efficient, we shoot for the high 80s [in offensive snaps],” said Curran, in his first year as head coach at Merrimack after assisting John Perry, now at Delaware, for four seasons.

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Which, said senior Quinn McDonough, can be nerve-racking at times. It’s how Curran played at the University of New Hampshire under mentors Sean McDonnell and Chip Kelly.

“In practice, you’re just running play after play, at game speed, with no break, you have to have all the plays memorized,” said McDonough, a 6-foot-1-inch, 208-pound running back from Medford via Malden Catholic. “I’ve spent countless hours looking at the playbook. That has really paid off.”

The Warriors rattled off 83 snaps in their season opener last Friday night, a stunning 42-41 victory over host Wagner, a Championship Subdivision program pegged to repeat as Northeast Conference champion.

On his way to piling up 212 all-purpose yards, McDonough took the opening kickoff back 97 yards for a score, his path cleared by special teams whiz Conor Larkin, a versatile performer on the defensive front. Senior quarterback Joe Clancy of Newburyport (35 of 50, 4 TDs) capped the evening, and a clutch 96-yard drive, with a 3-yard scoring toss to Shane Ferguson with 30 seconds left. “Craziest final drive I have ever been a part of,” said McDonough.

“Not too many people outside of our locker room thought we had a shot,” said Curran. “But we were more physical than [Wagner].”

The next challenge: Merrimack will take on Northeast-10 preseason favorite American International (0-1 after a 21-14 loss to East Stroudsburg) Friday night in Springfield.

More hits at Okla. St.

A handful of former Oklahoma State players say they dealt marijuana while they were at the school and some claimed drugs were rampant in the program, Sports Illustrated reported Thursday.

The article was the third of five planned by the magazine looking at alleged misconduct in the OSU football program dating to 2001 under coaches Les Miles and Mike Gundy.

SI says it interviewed more than 60 former players and found evidence of potential NCAA violations including boosters and assistant coaches paying players thousands of dollars for their play; sham jobs arranged by boosters; academic misconduct; and football program hostesses who had sex with recruits.

Oklahoma State said it has notified the NCAA about the allegations and launched its own investigation.

Trouble at Castleton

Two Castleton State players — senior wide receiver Brandon Boyle and sophomore quarterback George Busharis — were suspended indefinitely from the team after being charged by state police for stealing merchandise from a sporting goods store. According to Vermont State Police, Boyle worked at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Rutland, Vt., where he collaborated with Busharis to steal sports equipment on several occasions. both were cited on retail theft charges Tuesday. A school spokesman said four other Castleton players might have been involved in the scheme . . . Backup freshman quarterback Davis Webb threw a 19-yard TD pass to Bradley Marquez with 3:48 remaining to lead Texas Tech (3-0, 1-0 Big 12) to a 20-10 victory over No. 24 TCU (1-2, 0-1) in Lubbock, Texas . . . John Trudel’s 12-yard TD run with 3:16 left gave Mass. Maritime a 24-20 win over SUNY-Maritime in the teams’ season opener in Buzzards Bay.

Material from wire services was used in this report. Craig Larson can be reached at clarson@globe.com.
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