Geneva, NY --- A slow start doomed the WPI football team on Saturday as the Engineers fell on the road to nationally-ranked Hobart 37-7. WPI is now 3-2 on the season and 0-2 in Liberty League play while the Statesmen, ranked 25th in the latest D3football.com Top 25, improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in conference action.
Hobart made a methodical march on the game's opening possession, moving 74 yards in 12 plays while running 8:03 off the clock. Sophomore quarterback Thomas Sydeski (Brockport, NY) finished off the drive with a 6-yard, back shoulder throw to junior wide receiver Sean Cunningham (Geneva, NY) for his first receiving touchdown of the year.
On WPI's second play from scrimmage, Dan Eckler (Franklin, MA) completed a short pass but cornerback Todd Collier (Lynn, MA) poked the ball out and Hobart recovered at the WPI 33. The Engineers (3-2, 0-2) were hit with a 15-yard personal foul after the play, putting the Statesmen at the 18. Hobart gave the ball to running back Conner Hartigan (Albany, NY) on six straight plays. The senior took the final handoff 2 yards into the end zone for a 14-0 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
After a three-and-out by WPI, junior running back Bradley Burns (Hoosick Falls, NY) extended the lead to 21-0 with a 1-yard plunge midway through the second quarter, capping off a 16-play, 68-yard drive that ran 7:47 off the clock.
The Engineers got their only first down of the first half on the ensuing possession, but failed to gain a second and had to punt the ball back to the Statesmen. On first down, Sydeski connected with sophomore wide receiver Brandon Shed (West Palm Beach, FL) for 58 yards to move to the WPI 10, but Hobart had to settle for a 25-yard Sean Kirshe (Lexington, KY) field goal and a 24-0 lead at the break.
The Statesmen ruled the box score at halftime holding the upper hand in first downs (13-1), rushing (130-31), passing (110-14) and time of possession (22:09-7:51).
Junior linebacker Michael Harper (Westwood, NJ) ended WPI's first possession of the second half, intercepting Eckler at the WPI 46 and returning it 40 yards to the 6. Three plays later, first-year running back Tynard Barfield (Baltimore, MD) scored on a 5-yard TD run. The extra point attempt hit the upright, leaving Hobart a 30-0 lead.
The Engineers opened the fourth quarter scoring on a 4-yard run by senior Zach Grasis (East Brookfield, MA). The run capped an 11-play, 76-yard drive. Grasis led WPI with 63 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Two plays later, Hobart got the seven points back on a 74-yard halfback option play. Out of the I formation, Hartigan took a pitch to the right. Shed got behind the secondary and Hartigan hit him in stride at the WPI 40 and Shed outran the pursuit for Hobart's longest pass play of the year.
Hartigan rushed for a game and season-high 88 yards and completed his only pass attempt for 74 more. Shed caught just two passes for a game-high 132 yards, 31 more yards than all 10 of the Engineers' completions combined.
Sydeski was 11-of-18 passing for 113 yards and a TD. Eckler, who came into the game as the Liberty League's leading passer, was 10-of-26 for 101 yards. Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA) and Mitch Celaj (Worcester, MA) combined for seven of the Engineers' 10 receptions while Chris Ryan (Hanson, MA), hauled in a 47-yard catch.
Collier and first-year linebacker Aaron Louis (Stoneham, MA) shared team-high honors with six tackles apiece. Junior linebacker Marcus Jemison (Nyack, NY) made four stops, including two for loss and a sack.
Senior cornerback Sean Murphy (Mattapoisett, MA) had a game-high nine tackles for WPI with Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA) pitching in with eight stops and Kevin Lynch (East Bridgewater, MA) and Eric Lacroix (Metheau, MA) accounting for six each. Jonathan Morse (Chelmsford, MA) racked up a tackle for loss and Murphy and Lynch were credited with pass break-ups.
The Statesmen will be back in action on Saturday, October 10, when they visit Springfield. The Engineers will also play next Saturday, visiting Union.
Release Courtesy Hobart Sports Information