Worcester, MA --- Rochester received fourth quarter touchdowns by Cainaan Webb (Syracuse, NY) and Braezen Subick (Mahwah, NJ) to help spark the visitors to a 16-15 victory over WPI in a Liberty League football contest played Saturday afternoon at a sun-soaked Alumni Field.
Trailing 15-3 to start the fourth quarter, Webb, a defensive lineman, returned an interception 20 yards for a score on the second play of the quarter to slice the advantage to 15-9. The ensuing two-point conversion attempt was intercepted by WPI's Manny Cambra (Bethel, CT).
The two teams traded three-and-outs before Rochester forced WPI to punt again to give the U of R the ball at their own 29 with 8:47 left. One play after a 36-yard pass from Subick to Richard Brunet (Marietta, GA), the junior quarterback capped a 7-play, 71-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown scurry with 4:57 remaining. Zach White-Stellato's (Albany, NY) PAT put the YellowJackets ahead 16-15.
The Engineers had a final chance to win it and faced a 4th-and-1 at the Rochester 18 with 1:07 left. After the teams traded timeouts, WPI elected to go for the first down and the running play was stopped by Brok Kloeber (Peoira, AZ) for no gain. The visitors picked up one more first down before running out the clock.
With the win, Rochester improves to 1-6 while WPI dips to 3-4 overall. Both teams are now 1-3 in Liberty League play.
The scoring would begin with 10:54 left in the first quarter when a botched punt snap by Rochester was kicked out of the back of the end zone for a safety putting the Engineers up 2-0. U of R would then embark upon an impressive 16-yard, 75-play drive lasting 8:35 that culminated in a 22-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter by White-Stellato to put the YellowJackets ahead 3-2.
WPI regained the lead when Mitch McClune (Hanover, MA) blocked a punt with 5:23 left before intermission that was picked up and returned 1-yard for a touchdown by Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA). Webb blocked the extra point to keep the score 8-3.
WPI and Rochester would trade interceptions in the third, as John Perron (Auburn, MA) made a pick to give the Engineers great field position, however, two plays later, YellowJacket Cole Valko (Bridgeville, PA) would pull down an interception in the endzone for a touchback. The hosts would score the only points of the third quarter when Mello ran 39 yards for another WPI six points. Cody Beckel (Jupiter, FL) would add the PAT for a 15-3 advantage.
Mello would lead all rushers with 23 carries and 106 yards and finished with a total of 205 all-purpose yards. Rochester tailback Chris Lebano (Brooklyn, NY) picked up 88 yards on 14 carries while Subeck finished 14-of-23 through the air for 146 yards.
On defense for the Engineers, Christopher O'Connor (Bellerose, NY) would make nine stops to pace the team. Nick Chambers (Braintree, MA) notched eight tackles, including one for loss, while Tom Thackeray (Braintree, MA) also had eight, including a sack and a hurry. Brendan Gove (Rutland, VT), Kevin White (Worcester, MA), and Perron all chipped in with seven tackles apiece with Gove adding a sack.
Rochester's Brendan Pidgeon (Oneonta, NY) led all players with 10 tackles, including a half a sack. Bill Campi (Flemington, PA) and Tony Ortega (Rochester, NY) each made six stops apiece while Webb and Andrew Kryszak (Lancaster, NY) both added five tackles on the day.
For the game, the YellowJackets enjoyed a 291-214 edge in total yards and a decisive 35:30-24:30 advantage in time of possession.
Next Saturday WPI heads to Geneva, NY for a noontime start versus Hobart. Rochester wraps up a two-game road trip by venturing out of conference to take on Alfred in a 12:30pm contest.
Story by Mark Therrien - WPI Athletics