Grasis and Eccher Rally Football Past Union 29-21

Zach Grasis

Schenectady, NY --- Zach Grasis (East Brookfield, MA) ran for 168 yards and a touchdown to lead visiting WPI to a 29-21 victory over Union at Frank Bailey Field Saturday. The Engineers improved to 4-2 overall and 1-2  in the league while the Dutchmen fell to 0-6 and 0-3 in the Liberty League.

Dan Eckler (Stoughton, MA) was 17 for 34 for 155 yards and two touchdowns, and Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA) caught both scores with 76 yards on six catches. Dereck Pacheco (Barnstable, MA), Kevin Lynch (East Bridgewater, MA) and Edward Giles (Franklin, MA) each had seven tackles, while Pacheco had two tackles for losses of 10 yards including a sack and also a forced fumble and recovery.

Grasis reached the 100-yard rushing mark for the second time this season and 13th in his career.  He also moved passed Preston Roberts for fifth all-time in school history with 2,465 career rushing yards to go along with 23 touchdowns.

"We had been waiting all season to get our ground attack going and today was perfect timing for us," remarked WPI head coach Chris Robertson. "At halftime I could tell the team knew they would win and it was great for our defense to shut down a high quality offense especially in the second half." 

Union quarterback Nick Cascione (New Canaan, CT) was eight for 18 for 89 yards and a touchdown. A.J. Baker (Swampscott, MA) had 36 yards on two receptions and Enoch Penney-Laryea (Eastchester, NY) (69 yards rushing) and Connor Kinzelmann (East Greenbush, NY) (61) led the ground game. Jake LaRovera (Ansonia, CT) and Jake Lombardo (Lyndhurst, NJ) had a game high 10 tackles each and Jack Reilly had nine including a sack as well as two pass break ups, a fumble recovery and an interception.

Union scored on the first drive of the game. Kinzelmann had six straight carries on the 12 play drive, and his sixth straight was a one yarder for his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. The drive consumed 75 yards in 5:05.

WPI tied the contest on the next drive, as Eckler passed an 11 yard TD to Eccher with 1:54 remaining in the first quarter. This was also a 12 play drive, taking 6:03 in 75 yards. Union started the next drive at its on 35 and had 1:49 remaining in the quarter. Kinzelmann opened it with a 65 yard run but it was called back on a holding penalty. But six plays and 65 yards later Union regained the lead at 14-7 as Cascione found Kyle Reynolds (Delray Beach, FL) for eight yards for a 14-7 lead five seconds into the second quarter. It was Reynolds' 22nd career TD reception, tying Steve Angiletta '06 for second all-time at Union.

Union recovered a fumble with 8:55 left in the second at its own six yards line, forced by Mike Fitzsimmons (Montreal, QU) and recovered by Jack Reilly (Dumont, NJ). After a penalty brought it back to the three, Kinzelmann was tackled in the Dutchmen endzone by Jason Lamb (Plymouth, MA) for a safety, making it 14-9.

Union then had the free kick and WPI went 10 plays to the Union 33. On a fourth down, Reilly intercepted a pass at the Union 27 and ran it back 73 yards for a 21-9 lead. WPI started on the next drive with 3:16 to play in the half and on the fifth play Eckler hit Eccher for 39 yards for the touchdown to pull the Engineers closer at 21-16. The drive took just 1:22 and it was 21-16 at halftime.

WPI took the lead with a one yard run from Grasis with 7:03 left in the third quarter, but the Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL) point after failed. On the 12 play, 52 yard drive, Grasis carried eight times for 39 yards. It was the only scoring of the quarter.

In the fourth period, with 13:05 remaining, Eckler was intercepted by Jason Nelson (Dumont, NJ) in the endzone to end a threat. The quarter featured 10 different drives. Union had a chance for the lead with 6:36 left but a 40 yard field goal attempt failed. Later, with 3:16 remaining at the Union 32, Sean Murphy (Mattapoisett, MA) intercepted a Union pass at the Union 36. Five plays later, Eckler ran in from 15 yards out to provide an eight point lead at 29-21. Union had one more chance with 53 seconds remaining but Lamb's interception at the Dutchmen 48 sealed the victory for WPI.

Statistically WPI had large edges in total yardage (449 to 228), first downs (23 to 12) and time of possession (40:35 to 19:25) while each team proved opportunistic of defensive by forcing five turnovers.

Union is idle next week and returns to action October 24 for a Liberty League game at Rochester. The Engineers host Merchant Marine next Friday night at 7pm.

Release Courtesy Union Sports Information 

 

A photo posted by WPI Athletics (@wpiathletics) on Oct 10, 2015 at 1:19pm PDT