WORCESTER, MA — Trevor Dunne (Cedar Knolls, NJ) hauled in
a 27-yard touchdown pass from Pat McAuley (Hingham, MA) in overtime
and the WPI defense stopped Worcester State on the 1-yard line to
cap a thrilling 27-20 win for the Engineers in a non-conference
football contest on Saturday afternoon. Both teams now sport
identical 1-1 records on the young season.
WPI, who trailed by as many as 17 points late in the third quarter, had forced the extra session when Cody Beckel (Jupiter, FL) connected on a 21-yard field goal on the final play of regulation. The junior redeemed himself for a missed 25-yarder that would have tied the game on the previous possession.
After winning the coin toss and electing to go on offense, a fumbled snap put the Engineers in a 2nd-and-12 from Lancers 27 yardline before McAuley found Dunne on a corner streak. A unsportsmanlike conduct penalty forced Beckel to connect on a 35-yard PAT, which he drilled through the uprights.
Worcester State responded on its first play of overtime with an 18-yard pass from Tony Tokarz (Holden, MA) to Kenny Russell (Bedford, MA) down to the seven yard line. The next three plays yielded a total of three yards and on 4th-and-goal from the WPI 4, Tocakarz completed a pass to David Harris (Milford, MA), who fell a yard short at the one yard line, ending the game and securing the comeback win for the hosts.
The Lancers took a 13-3 lead into the locker room at halftime on a Tokarz 4-yard run in the opening quarter and an 11-yard touchdown pass from Tokarz to Harris 22 seconds before halftime. Worcester State increased its advantage on the second play from scrimmage of the third quarter when running back Marcus Price (Worcester, MA) scampered 66 yards for a score.
Trailing 20-3 late in the third quarter, running back Mitch McClune (Pembroke, MA) scored from a yard out for WPI on a direct snap from center as part of the Wild Goat formation. The Crimson and Gray forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Worcester State possession and sliced the deficit to 20-17 when McAuley capped a 12-play, 57-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Nick Bean (Middleboro).
The WPI defense limited the visitors to just 23 plays in the second half and overtime and held the Lancers to just 70 yards of total offensive after the Price touchdown in the opening minute of the second half. Peter Gill (Franklin, MA) and Michael Oliveri (Milford, MA) both tallied 10 tackles, with Gill amassing 3.5 stops for loss.
Worcester State's Tyler Russell (Princeton, MA) led all players with an eye-popping 20 tackles while Adam Straughn (Rockland, MA) chipped in with 12. Just before Beckel's game-tying field goal, Taylor Santos (Bedford, MA) recorded a 3-yard tackle-for-loss on a play at the one yard line that kept the Engineers out of the end zone and forced the WPI to go for the tie.
Four different WPI players reached double digits in carries with Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA) registering 78 yards on 18 rushes and McAuley, who was also 13-of-22 through the air for 122 yards, collecting 53 yards on 13 carries.
Tokarz connected on 15-of-23 attempts for 120 yards with Russell (6 catches - 62 yards) his favorite target. Price rambled for a career-best 129 carries on 20 rushes.
The victory was the eighth straight win in the series for WPI and the first overtime contest in the 18 meetings between the two programs. Ironically, both teams' last overtime games were on the same evening - September 5th, 2008. On that night WPI defeated UMass-Dartmouth 34-28 in five overtimes and Worcester State dropped a 28-21 decision to Curry in a single extra session.
WPI concludes a two-game homestand next Saturday night, hosting Becker at 7pm. Worcester State begins NEFC play on Friday evening, venturing to Nichols for a 7pm mandated divisional crossover contest.