Springfield, MA --- Connor Field (Granby, CT) ran for two scores and Julian Nyland (Melrose, MA) tossed a pair of touchdown passes as WPI remained undefeated by going on the road and defeating host Springfield 35-21 in the NEWMAC football opener for both squads on Saturday afternoon.
WPI, ranked first in the Grinold Chapter New England Division III Top 10, is now 4-0 for the eighth time in the program's 130-year history and just the second time in 36 seasons. The victory over the Pride is just the third all-time in the 36-game series for Engineers. With the loss, Springfield is now 1-3 on the season.
Field accounted for the only scoring of the opening quarter when he took it in from one yard out one play after an Austin Pesce (Monroe, CT) 49-yard punt return gave the Engineers literally the best starting field position possible at the Springfield one.
The second quarter featured quick responses to scores. WPI went ahead 14-0 after Nyland hit Billy Mitchell (Groton, MA) with a 29-yard touchdown pass only to see the Pride respond 40 seconds later when Chad Shade (Pittsfield, MA) rushed 23 yards for a score just after Patrick Ladas (Middlefield, CT) got the Pride going with a 59-yard scamper. The final minute of the first half was frantic as SC evened the game at 14-14 when Isaiah Cashwell-Doe (Woburn, MA) scooted in from four yards out with 56 seconds remaining, but the Engineers struck back with four quick Nyland completions in five tries, finished off with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Nic Rossi (Howell, NJ) 32 seconds later.
The third quarter started the same way as the second quarter ended. After the hosts punted, WPI embarked upon an 11-play, 65-yard drive capped by a Field 2-yard touchdown plunge to go up 28-14 but was countered quickly as Springfield's Kejuan Farquhar (Hyde Park, MA) returned the ensuing kickoff 99-yards to the house to make the margin seven again at 28-21. WPI fullback Phillip Durgin (Wenham, MA) accounted for the only touchdown of the fourth quarter when he blasted in from a yard out with 8:41 to go to move the score to 35-21.
Field finished with 116 yards, just a yard short of a new career-best, on 30 carries. It was his second 100 yard+ game of the season and fourth of his career. Nyland completed 16-for-30 passes for 236 yards and added 40 rushing yards on five carries. Mitchell posted career highs of five catches for 104 yards while Rossi and Brendan Chipman (Middleboro, MA) each hauled in four passes for 76 and 39 yards respectively. Clark Ewen (Arlington, MA) also chipped in with three catches.
Special teams was a highlight to for Engineers as Bryce Wade (Modesto, CA) was a perfect 5-for-5 on PATs and averaged 42 yards on his four punts, with three landing inside the 20, and Pesce averaged 18.4 yards per punt return.
Sam Casey (Winchester, MA) and Nick Ostrowski (Charlton, MA) shared team-high tackles honors with 10 apiece with Casey adding an interception, a forced fumble and a tackle-for-loss. Steve Mey (Watertown, MA) totaled nine tackles while Tommy Feraco (Holden, MA) added eight and Lou Duh (Monroe, CT) seven and Mike McGoff (Ashland, MA) registered the game's only sack.
Cashwell-Doe (93 yards), Ladas (90 yards) and Shade (79 yards) all saw significant time running the ball for the Pride. AJ Smith (Rahway, NJ) was outstanding on defense for Springfield, posting a game-best 11 tackles, including one for loss, and picking off two passes.
Overall, WPI had the advantage in time of possession (34:19 - 25:51) and edge in total yards (404 - 305) and first downs (22 - 13).
Both teams continue NEWMAC play with home games next Saturday. WPI hosts Maine Maritime at 1pm as part of Homecoming Weekend while Springfield entertains Norwich at noon.