By Cliff Mehrtens

DAVIDSON – Davidson College fired football coach Tripp Merritt on Monday, with two games remaining in a dismal 1-8 season.

Brett Hayford, the associate head coach the past eight years, took over as interim coach. Davidson, 1-5 in Pioneer Football League games, lost 49-14 to Morehead State on Saturday.

Merritt was in his eighth season as Davidson’s coach and had a 31-51 record in that span.

“We very much appreciate Tripp’s dedication and commitment to our student-athletes and to Davidson College throughout his seven years as an assistant and eight years as head coach,” Davidson Director of Athletics Jim Murphy said.

Merritt had a 22-32 record in PFL games and was named the 2006 PFL?Co-Coach of the Year, becoming the first Davidson coach to earn conference coach of the year honors since Homer Smith in 1969.

Merritt was in his second coaching stint at Davidson, having served as an assistant from 1993-99. He was defensive coordinator beginning in 1994. The Wildcat defense ranked fourth among NCAA Division I-AA?(now FCS) schools in total defense and second in scoring defense in 1998 as Davidson won eight games, then a school record.

Hayford, a 1993 Davidson graduate, is the defensive line coach and has been on the coaching staff  20 years.

Davidson next plays at Valparaiso on Saturday, and will concludes the season Nov. 17 at home against San Diego.