Worcester, MA --- Sean Murphy (Mattapoisett, MA) claimed the Robert Pritchard Award for Most Outstanding Back and Nate Martel (Steep Falls, ME) earned the Robert Pritchard Award as the Most Outstanding Lineman as WPI defeated Union, 23-7, in a Liberty League football contest on Saturday at Alumni Stadium as part of Homecoming Weekend.
Following the opening kickoff, Robert Harasimowicz (Gardner, MA) recovered a Union fumble on the first offensive play of the game. Two drives later, WPI put the first points on the board when Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL) drilled a 20-yard field goal following a 44-yard seven-play drive that lasted 2:05.
Union looked to respond with a 12-play 53-yard drive that stalled on a third and six when Kevin Lynch (East Bridgewater, MA) pulled down an interception and returned it 50-yards. Ian McMullen (Londonderry, NH) won a battle with his defender to haul in a 40-yard touchdown two plays later. The Dutchmen held on to the ball for the next 5:50 and marched 45 yards on 12 plays before turning the ball over on downs.
WPI gained five yards and then held Union to minus 10-yards on back-to-back three-and-outs to open the second quarter. With 7:57 left in the half, Dan Eckler (Stoughton, MA) capped a drive with a two-yard touchdown run to make it 16-0 Engineers. Murphy interrupted the next Union drive with a 48-yard interception return for the 23-0 advantage with 6:55 remaining before the break.
Early in the third quarter Attila Kara (Douglas, MA) smothered a Union fumble and the Engineers were picked off by Chris Carbone (Amsterdam, NY) on consecutive drives. Union then broke into the red zone and converted a fourth and goal at the five into a touchdown by Kyle Reynolds (Delray Beach, FL) with 6:59 left in the third. Seven plays and 27 yards later, Jake LaRovera (Ansonia, CT) picked off Eckler only to have it taken back by Devin Duarte (Newbury Park, CA) on third and 16. The drive also included a sack by Murphy.
Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA) intercepted Eck in the end zone with 6:29 left to play. On Union's final drive, Murtagh batted down the ball on a fourth and 17 to seal the WPI victory.
Union held a commanding margin in time of possession with a 34:47 to 25:13 advantage. The Dutchmen also outgained the Engineers in total yards (367-236) and converted five third downs and two fourth downs while the hosts were successful on a trio of third downs. The WPI defense proved optimistic, forcing six Union turnovers and ending a plus four in turnover margin.
Eckler was 17 of 28 with 168 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown pass, in addition to being the team's top rusher with 46 yards and a score. Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA) hauled in six receptions for 60 yards. Jason Lamb (Plymouth, MA) and Eric Lacroix (Methuen, MA) shared game-high honors with 10 tackles while Oliver Sullivan (Hingham, MA), Harasimowicz and Murtagh each made six stops. Steve Barker (Saugus, MA) added a pair of sacks for the Engineers. Vinny Tavernelli once again out-punted his foe with 245 yards on six tries and placed two inside the 20.
Connor Eck (Rye, NY) and Blake Geller (Demerest, NJ) each went 11 for 21 under center combining for 233 yards in the air. Darnel Thomas (West Caldwell, NJ) rushed 22 times for 89 yards while Eck added 44 yards on the ground. Reynolds caught seven passes for 103 yards and Andrew Barker (Swampscott, MA) grabbed six receptions for 76 yards. Tim Lucey (Plymouth, MA) led the Dutchmen with five tackles as Troy Williams (Boston, MA), Thomas Hayes (East Rutherford, NJ), Casey Muse (Oklahoma City, OK) and LaRovera all had four.
After a bye next weekend, WPI (2-4, 1-2 Liberty League) heads to Long Island to face Merchant Marine at 4pm on Saturday, October 25th. Union (0-5, 0-3, Liberty League) steps out of conference next Saturday, entertaining Western New England at 4pm.
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