Springfield Spoils WPI’s Home Opener to Begin Year Two of NEWMAC Football

Nic Rossi (Credit: Noontime Sports)
Nic Rossi (Credit: Noontime Sports)

WORCESTER – Junior Hunter Belzo (Middletown, CT) rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and threw for another, as Springfield emerged with a 17-14 victory over host WPI in a Saturday afternoon NEWMAC Football showdown in Alumni Stadium.

The Pride improve to 3-1 while the Engineers slip to 2-2.

Springfield took the lead with 6:52 to play thanks to a one-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal by Belzo. WPI had a chance to tie the game with 34 seconds to play; however, the 45-yard field goal attempt was tipped by sophomore AJ Smith (Rahway, NJ) and fell short and to the left of the uprights.

The Engineers went up 7-0 as senior Lain Zembek (Binghamton, NY) recovered an offensive fumble in the endzone with 6:19 left in the first. The drive started on the SC 26 thanks to a blocked punt by senior Blayne Merchant (Sanderson, FL).

Junior Sam Casey (Winchester, MA) picked off the Pride with less than five minutes left in the opening frame but the Engineers were forced to punt. Belzo then evened the game with a 75-yard scamper at the end of the quarter.

Smith returned an interception 23 yards on the first drive of the second quarter. With 12:30 to go before intermission, Springfield grinded out a 20-play, 67-yard drive that lasted 9:07 only to come up empty.

Senior Christian Humulock (Naragansett, RI) kicked a 28-yard field goal to give the Pride a 10-7 advantage nearly five minutes into the third. Just over 30 seconds later, junior Nic Rossi (Howell, NJ) eluded a tackle and broke the plane to regain the lead for WPI.

Springfield junior Jack Pavelchak (Patchogue, NY) hauled in a pick to get the ball back early in the fourth.

Junior Julian Nyland (Melrose, MA) was 13-33 for 210 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions while junior Sean McAllen (Prospect, CT) was held to 88 yards on 24 carries. Both junior Billy Mitchell (Groton, MA) and senior Erik Fyrer (Ipswitch, MA) totaled 59 yards in in the air. Merchant and senior Collin Saunders (Westwood, NJ) each tallied 10 solo stops as they totaled 12 and 11, respectively. Classmate Luca Cerasani (Abington, MA) joined Saunders with a tackle for-loss.

In addition to Belzo, freshman Jared Baron (New Rochelle, NY) and sophomore Tim Callahan (Enfield, CT) ran for 48 and 41 yards, respectively. Senior Jedi Haynes (Windsor, CT) logged the lone reception for 36 yards. Senior Nick Giorgio (Cumberland, RI) led the Pride with seven solo stops as senior Marlowe Scott (Dorchester, MA) and senior Josh Corporan (Lincoln Park, NJ) each registered five tackles. Pavelchak accounted for two of the guests five tackles for-loss.

WPI had the 210-36 advantage in the air while Springfield enjoyed a 233-88 margin in rushing yards. The Pride also won time of possession 32:54-27:06.

The Engineers trek to Maine Maritime Saturday for a noon kickoff while the Pride hit the road for Norwich for a 1pm start.