Football's Second Half Rally Comes Up Short In Transit Trophy Game Versus RPI

Zach Grasis

WORCESTER – Senior running back Zach Grasis (East Brookfield, MA) ran for 75 yards and two second-half touchdowns, but the WPI Engineers fell at home during Homecoming to the RPI Engineers 28-21 at Alumni Stadium in a battle for the Transit Trophy and the Liberty League opener for both teams.

Grasis, who is sixth all time with 2,234 rushing yards, received the Robert Pritchard Award for the Most Outstanding Back.

RPI (3-1), which won its second-straight Transit Trophy, scored 28 first-half points, including three touchdown passes by senior quarterback Jeff Avery (White Plains, NY) – 3- and a 5-yard passes to senior Logan Gaddar (South Portland, ME) on quick slants, and a 27-yard pass to senior Austin Amery (Castleton, VT).

Avery finished 14 of 22 for 155 yards and the three touchdowns, Gaddar finished with a team-high 49 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions, and senior running back Nick Schlatz ran for 110 yards on 21 carries for RPI.

On its first possession of the second half, WPI (3-1) scored on a quick, 70-yard, four-play drive which was highlighted by a 62-yard pass from junior quarterback Dan Eckler (Stoughton, MA) to junior Steven Thulin (Walpole, MA) to set up first-and-goal from the 3. Two plays later, in the Wild Goat formation, Grasis punched in his first touchdown.

WPI, which had 81 yards of offense in the first half, exploded for 294 second-half yards, including 249 in the air from Eckler.

The WPI defense, which allowed just 145 second-half yards, was led by junior Brian Murtagh's (Wayland, MA) 11 tackles, including a tackle for a loss. For his efforts, Murtagh was awarded the Robert Pritchard Award for the Most Outstanding Lineman.

Trailing, 28-7, WPI churned out a 13-play, 87-yard drive culminating with Grasis' second touchdown of the game to cut the lead in half, 28-14, after the PAT by junior Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL).

Bursey finished with 3 PATs and connected on three punts for a total of 95 yards.

With 2:47 left, Eckler connected with junior Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA) for 70 yards on a double-move go route up the sideline, which led to a 21-yard touchdown pass to graduate student Ian McMullen (Londonderry, NH).

Eccher led all receivers with 144 yards on five catches, and McMullen had two catches for 23 yards and the score.

Senior safety Eric Lacroix (Wayland, MA), a captain, made 13 tackles, and graduate-student and captain Jake Brown (Fall River, MA) amassed 8 tackles, including a tackle for loss, for WPI.

Sophomore Bryan Hayes (Boylston, MA) made a team-high nine tackles, senior defensive back Teague Florio (Southampton, NY) collected five tackles and returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown for RPI.

WPI will travel to Hobart next week, and RPI will host Merchant Marine.

-- JB --

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