WPI 25, Worcester State 0
Worcester, MA --- Freshman cornerback Elante Moore (Alexandria, VA) pulled down three interceptions and the WPI defense produced seven sacks, as the Engineers earned a 25-0 shutout over Worcester State in non-conference football action on Friday evening. It was WPI's first shutout of any opponent since a 35-0 win vs. Merchant Marine in 2007. The win gives WPI a 2-0 start for the seventh straight season, while Worcester State falls to 0-2.
The Engineers picked up a field goal on their first drive of the game before the turnover bug bit the Lancers late in the first quarter. As Worcester State moved into WPI territory for the first time in the game, WPI defensive back Adam Power (Tewksbury, MA) picked a pass out of the air and returned it 38 yards to the Lancers' 32, setting up the game's first touchdown. Six plays later, sophomore RB Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA) dove in from one yard out to give the visitors a 9-0 lead. It was Mello's second rushing TD of the season, while his 62 yards on the ground paced a trio of WPI rushers that got into the end zone on the evening.
The WPI defense produced another big play at the end of the first quarter to set up another scoring drive. With Worcester State facing a 3rd and 14 on its own 29, Moore grabbed his first INT of the game to give the Engineers the ball once again inside Lancer territory, and the WPI offense would take full advantage of the opportunity. The Engineers drove 35 yards in eight plays, capped by Tom Fontecchio's (Shrewsbury, MA) one-yard touchdown run, to take a 16-0 advantage. Moore added his second interception late in the first half after a 33-yard run from Lancers RB Marcus Price (Worcester, MA) gave Worcester State the ball in WPI territory with under five minutes to go before the half.
Worcester State had its best chance to score just after the break, as an 11-play Lancers drive gave them 1st-and-goal at the WPI 5. The WPI defense buckled down however, stopping Price for a loss on first down and getting a Hal Reader (Bel Air, MD) sack on second down. Reader had 2.5 of WPI's seven sacks in the game and also recorded 4.5 tackles for a loss. Following an incompletion on 3rd-and-goal, the defense forced the Lancers' field goal attempt wide left, preserving the 16-point margin. On the ensuing possession, the Engineers drove 69 yards en route to a Cody Beckel (Jupiter, FL) field goal and a 19-0 lead.
The Engineers added another TD in the fourth quarter, as senior RB Aaron Champagne (Fairfield, ME) raced into the end zone from the Lancers' 9 for his third rushing TD of the season.
Mello's 62 rushing yards led the Engineers, who produced 229 yards on the ground. QB Pat McAuley (Hingham, MA), playing in relief of starter Mike Swanton (Foxboro, MA), rushed seven times for 57 yards. Champagne had 50 yards on 10 carries, while Swanton added 48 yards rushing. R.C. Grady (Shirley, MA), Cody McGregor (Westfield, MA) and Josh Less (Fitchburg, MA) each had two catches for WPI. The Engineers struggled on third down, converting only once in 13 chances, but were successful on fourth down to keep drives alive. WPI was 4-for-5 in fourth down conversions.
The WPI defensive unit was the star in this game however, as the Engineers held Worcester State to just 228 yards of total offense, recorded seven sacks and produced five turnovers. In addition to Moore's and Reader's efforts, senior Craig Kennedy (Seekonk, MA) led all players with nine tackles, three for a loss, while Jack Mulhern (Worcester, MA) had seven stops. Power added five tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery to his first quarter interception.
Price led the Lancers offense with 123 all-purpose yards, as he rushed for 66 yards and had 57 yards receiving. Price's 33-yard run in the first half and 45-yard reception in the second were the Lancers' longest plays of the evening.
Tyler Russell (Princeton, MA) had a team-best seven tackles, while junior Paul Lewis (Worcester, MA) chipped in with six tackles, a pass breakup and an interception for Worcester State. Sophomore Taylor Santos (Bedford, MA) collected two of the hosts' three sacks.
WPI will look to move to 3-0 on Saturday afternoon, as the Engineers will remain on the road to take on Becker. WPI defeated Becker 47-7 last season. Worcester State will play another Friday night contest next week, when they will travel to Dudley to face Nichols at 7pm.
Story by Ray Cotrufo - Sports Information Correspondent
Portions Courtesy Worcester State Sports Information