WORCESTER – WPI quarterback Dan Eckler (Stoughton, MA) passed for 381 yards, including a 96-yard touchdown strike as Football earned its first victory over Worcester State in five years with a 27-13 triumph on Friday night at John F. Coughlin Stadium. The Crimson and Gray are now 2-0 for the first time since 2009.
The 381 yards in the air are the most in a single game in more than a decade while the 96-yard TD was the second longest pass play in Engineer history, trailing a 98-yarder from Greg Whitney to Evan Elkington against Coast Guard in 1989.
Worcester State began its first drive in excellent field position thanks to a short kick and six-yard return to the WSU 46. The Engineer defense then held the Lancers to a three-and-out; however, they suffered a similar fate on their initial drive, which started at the one yard line.
The Lancers second drive featured a third-down conversion before an Edward Giles (Franklin, MA) sack and a pair of incompletions to force another punt by Pat Tuohy (Peabody, MA). Eckler and Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA) needed only one play, a 96-yard reception, on the ensuing drive to take the lead just 4:38 into the contest.
Following a stalled WPI drive of 79-yards on 15-plays which lasted over half of the frame (7:41) and ended on a missed field goal, Zach Grasis' (East Brookfield, MA) two-yard plunge capped off a 13-play, 62-yard drive for the two TD lead. Worcester State then had a drive halted by a missed FG late in the half after going 56 yards on 12 plays.
After the break, WPI punted the ball away on the initial drive. Five plays later, Kevin Lynch (East Bridgewater, MA) forced a fumble which was recovered by Peter Salem (Dracut, MA) at the WSU 34. The resulting drive ended with a 14-yard run by Brian Marsh (Troy, NY) as the Engineers claimed the 21-0 advantage.
Worcester State broke up the shutout with a 60-yard 12-play drive that saw Trevor Vasey (Cumberland, RI) connect with Arron Witkus (Chelmsford, MA) for a 10-yard score with 4:00 left in the third. Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL) knocked home a 27-yard field goal on the next WPI drive for the 24-7 lead.
Dexter Andrews (Dorchester, MA) punched in a three-yard run for the Lancers while the PAT failed thanks to a fumbled snap to make it a 24-13 ballgame midway through the fourth. WPI then added three more on a 24-yard Bursey field goal with 7:15 left to play.
With 3:54 showing on the scoreboard, Lynch picked off a pass and returned it to the 20-yard line to extinguish the Lancers last threat.
Eckler was 21-for-31 while his Worcester State counterpart Vasey delivered 296 yards on 35-of-49 passing with a touchdown and a late pick.
Eccher accumulated a game-high 168 yards on eight receptions, including the near-record TD while Grasis totaled a game-best 74 yards on 28 carries and added a score. Mitch Celaj (Worcester, MA) chopped in with 57 yards on six catches. Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA) led all players with 16 tackles, including 11 solo stops, while Lynch amassed eight tackles (all solo) and forced fumble to go along with his interception. Pacheco was a force on the defense line with 2 1/2 sacks among his seven tackles and chipped with a pair of deflected passes and QB hurry.
Isiah King (Richmond, VA) paced the Lancers with 70 receiving yards on 10 grabs as Witkus followed with 78 on 8 with a TD. Shane Gleim (North Grosvenordale, CT) led the Lancer defensive effort with 10 tackles while Rafael Guzman (Cambridge, MA) and Brian Gencaeelli (Niantic, CT) each amassed nine.
WPI outgained the hosts by a 461-356 margin and held a 34:45-25:15 edge in time of possession. The Engineers played nearly mistake-free football committing just one penalty, not committing a turnover (while forcing two) and converting all three of their fourth down attempts.
WPI is back at home next Saturday, entertaining Norwich at 1pm while Worcester State opens MASCAC play on the road Friday at Bridgewater State.
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