Worcester, MA --- Marcus Washington (Pahokee, FL) ran for 187 on 38 carries with two touchdowns as the visiting Saints of St. Lawrence defeated the host Engineers of WPI, 21-14on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field in Worcester.
St. Lawrence wraps up its season at 3-6 with an 2-4 record in the Liberty League conference. WPI ends its 2011 campaign at 2-7 with a 1-5 mark in the conference standings.
Washington's performance gave him over a thousand rushing yards on the season. Zach Migliore (Pittsford, NY) threw for 36 yards and ran for another 24 for SLU.
For the Engineers, Johny Antonopoulos (Cambridge, MA) threw 16 for 31 for 182 yards with a touchdown pass. Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA) ran for 88 yards on 20 carries, giving him 969 yards on the season. Mello finishes averaging 107.6 yards per game on the season. Trevor Dunne (Cedar Knolls, NJ) finished with seven catches for 68 yards. Nick Bean (Middleboro, MA) had five catches for fifty yards.
St. Lawrence got off to a quick start on the first play of the game when John Wittig (Manlius, NY) returned the opening kickoff 92 yards to the WPI one yard line. On the very next play, Washington ran the ball in to put the Saints up 7-0.
WPI was forced to punt on their opening drive, but punter Mike Pettiglio (Westford, MA) made an excellent kick to strand the Saints at their own four yard line. Saint Lawrence ground their way down the field, converting on a fourth and six on a reception by Mike Tateosian (Keene, NH) and capping the sixteen play drive on a 14 yard touchdown pass by Migliore to Evan Shifley (Winthrop, MA), and the visitors would go up 14-0. The drive took 6:57 off the clock.
On the following drive, the Engineers were intercepted by St. Lawrence's Trevor Saunders (Mount Vernon, NY), once again giving the Saints strong starting field position at the WPI 48. WPI's Joe Everett (Columbia, CT) sacked Migliore on a third and eight and a fake punt by the Saints would be stopped by the Engineers on a fake punt, giving the ball back to the Crimson and Gray at their own 46. Antonopoulos and the offense put together an eight play, 49 yard drive that ended in a missed field goal attempt for WPI. That drive brought the game into the second quarter.
SLU ran off eight plays before being forced to punt and WPI was forced to punt back after a six play drive. With the Saints beginning at their own 26, the WPI defense came up with a series of key defensive plays as Peter Gill (Franklin, MA) stopped the rush on first down, Tom Thackeray (Braintree, MA) sacked Migliore on second down, and William Alves (West Warwick, RI) tackled a receiver off a screen pass for a loss of four yards on third down.
WPI then put together a 16 play drive that nearly took the game to halftime, a stretch that featured a successful fourth and one conversion on a rush by Mello but ultimately fell short when Antonopoulos was sacked on a fourth and five with ten seconds left by SLU's Jesse Clark (Ticonderoga, NY). St. Lawrence took a knee and they would go into halftime still up 14-0.
WPI's Manny Cambra (Bethel, CT) returned the opening kickoff of the second half 23 yards to the Engineer 47 yard line. The Engineer offense failed to take advantage, however, and a key fumble at the St. Lawrence 29 yard line returned the ball to the Saints.
The WPI defense had an excellent stand on the following drive, forcing a punt after five plays. Mello would block the punt, which was recovered by Cambra who ran the ball down to the SLU 11 before fumbling, giving the ball back to the Saints with a first down at their own nine yard line.
Washington was a battering ram for St. Lawrence on the following drive, at one point rushing on five consecutive plays and converting two first downs. The Engineer defense again came up with a big play, tipping a pass by Migliore on third and seven to force a punt. For the second straight time, WPI blocked the SLU punt attempt, this time by Alves. There was no mistake this time for the Crimson and Gray as Mello recovered the punt and ran it 20 yards to the end zone to give the hosts their first score of the day, 14-7. It was the second blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Mello on the season.
After kicking the ball back to the Saints, the Engineer defense had the scent of blood, forcing a three and out by Saint Lawrence with a deflected pass by Gill on third down. WPI took over at their own 46 after the punt. On the second play of the drive, Mello rushed 19 yards for a WPI first down. On the very next play, Antonopoulos completed a 32 yard pass to Cambra, and the Crimson and Gray was back in business tied at 14-14.
A short kickoff started SLU at their 48 yard line. On first down, Washington would power his way 15 yards to the WPI 37 yard line. A three yard rush by Washington would take the clock to the end of the third quarter.
Two plays into the fourth, WPI's John Perron (Worcester, MA) would make one of the biggest plays of his collegiate career, picking off Migliore and giving the ball back to WPI. The Engineers were forced to punt, however, after a fierce pass rush forced Antonopoulos to throw the ball away on third down.
As they had for much of the day, the WPI defense refused to bend, forcing a three and out. Alves came up with another key play, successfully defending a pass on third and nine and sending the SLU punt team back on the field. WPI went three and out and punted the ball back, still tied at 14-14 with 8:29 left in regulation.
SLU would again rely on Washington on their follow drive, driving deep into Engineer territory. With a third and four at the WPI 14, Washington rushed for ten yards for the first down. On the very next play, Washington punched through the Crimson and Gray and giving SLU a 21-14 lead with just 3:25 left in the game.
Facing perhaps the final drive of their season, the WPI offense went to work. After a St. Lawrence penalty, Mello ran 15 yards and into St. Lawrence territory. On the next play Antonopoulos completed an 11 yard pass to Bean for a first down at the SLU 37. Two plays later, Clark and Oraene Morgan (Bridgeport, CT) sacked Antonopoulos again for the Saints. Two plays later and facing a fourth and fifteen, Antonopoulos' pass was tipped at the line and St. Lawrence would take over on downs, effectively ending the game.
The St. Lawrence defense was led by Phil Hamilton (Winthrop, MA), who amassed eleven tackles, including three for a loss and one sack. Saunders had eight tackles and an interception. John Lesofsky (Tyngsboro, MA) had six tackles. St. Lawrence amassed a total of four sacks against the Engineers, led by Clark's 1.5 sacks. The Saints had ten total tackles for a loss.
The WPI defense was led by Christopher O'Connor (Bellerose, NY) who racked up ten total tackles including 1.5 for a loss. Shaine Grogan (Peru, MA) and Hussein Yatim (Shrewsbury, MA) each had eight tackles.
Prior to the game, WPI honored its graduating senior class for their years of dedication and commitment to the program. Cody Beckel (Jupiter, FL), Mohamed Yatim (Shrewsbury, MA), Mitch McClune (Pembroke, ME), Pat McAuley (Hingham, MA), Kevin White (Worcester, MA), Matt Cyr (Dracut, MA), Tom Reid (Braintree, MA), Mark Caulfield (Braintree, MA), Thaddeus Adams (Newtown, CT), Tyler Lapierre (Burrillville, RI), Andrew Baker (Rutland, VT), Dan Nyren (Medway, MA), Dunne, Thackeray, Cambra, Mello, Gill, Bean, Less, Perron and Pettiglio were recognized alongside their parents by coaches, school officials and spectators. Their contributions to both the team and to the WPI community as a whole will be missed.
WPI Football will kickoff its 2012 season on Saturday, September 1st as they visit the Colonels of Curry. They will open their home schedule the following weekend against the Lancers of Worcester State.