Worcester, MA --- Senior Kenny Russell (Bedford, MA) amassed 41 yards of total offense with a pair of touchdowns – including the game winning run on a reverse with 9:11 remaining – to help lead Worcester State to a 21-14 victory over cross-town rival WPI in non-conference football action this evening.
The Lancers (2-0) last defeated WPI, 41-23, during the 2002 season. The Engineers hold a 14-5 all-time lead in the series.
Down 14-13 with 13:44 remaining in the contest, the Lancers (2-0) received a key interception on second and goal by senior Cliff Oratokhai (Worcester, MA/South) in the end zone to help set-up what would be the game-clinching drive.
Fourth-year Tony Tokarz (Holden, MA) rushed for 24 yards and passed for 44 yards before Russell delivered the go-ahead score. With an empty backfield, Tokarz would cap off the rally with a plunge into the end-zone for the successful two-point conversion.
The Blue and Gold opened the game with the quick 13-0 advantage as Russell hauled in a 21-yard touchdown at the 8:53 mark in the first quarter and then senior Marcus Price (Worcester, MA/Doherty) added a 82-yard scamper near the four-minute mark. Price also moves to 10th on the all-purpose yardage list with an impressive total of 2,237 yards.
WPI (0-2) eventually responded with 17-play, 77-yard drive which culminated in a three-yard scoring strike from senior Pat McAuley (Hingham, MA) to classmate Nick Bean (Middleboro, MA) to trim the advantage to 13-7 at the intermission. The Engineers were successful five times on third-down in the series that lasted nearly nine minutes.
After the Lancers went three-and-out to open the third quarter, the Crimson and Gray knotted the game at 13-13 on a 22-yard keeper by McAuley. Senior Cody Beckel (Jupiter, FL) gave the Boynton Hillers the lead with his second extra-point of the contest.
Worcester State gained just six yards on their next drive before WPI would march down to the goal-line from their own 29, but they were stopped short by Oratokhai's pick.
The Engineers had two chances in the final nine minutes of regulation to tie the score. McAuley and senior Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA) would help put the visitors on the WSU 36 on their first bid and they were unsuccessful as they failed to convert on fourth down. The same result occurred with three incomplete passes and a third-down sack by senior Ray St. Laurent (Shrewsbury, MA) with just under three minutes remaining.
Price added 137 yards on 18 rushes to move into third place on Worcester State's all-time rushing list as he now has 2,008 yards in his three-year career.
Tokarz was eight-for-20 with 103 passing yards and a score while he added 26 yards on the ground. With his performance tonight, Tokarz now has over 3,073 passing yards (4th place) and over 825 for the all-time leading rusher as quarterback
Freshman Casey Hippert (Douglas, MA) also caught three receptions for 54 yards - two of which came on third-downs.
Mello posted career highs with 33 rushes for 128 yards while he finished with 216 all-purpose yards (83 kick return yards). His previous best was 23 rushes for the same rush total last season against RPI.
McAuley combined for 143 yards of total offense with 50 on the ground and 93 in the air. Bean and senior Josh Less (Fitchburg, MA) both chipped in with nine receptions for 60 yards. Bean now has over 1,000 receiving yards (1,017) in his outstanding career.
Senior Cameron Jones (Stow, MA) paced the Lancers with a game-best 12 tackles (eight solo) with a fumble recovery and a pass break-up. St. Laurent added 10 stops with a sack and two tackles for a loss. Freshman Tyler Asam (Milford, MA) distinguished himself with five tackles (two TFL), two forced fumbles and one recovery as Oratokhai notched seven tackles (six solo) in addition to his interception.
Senior Tom Thackeray (Braintree, MA) was the standout for WPI as he finished with five solo tackles (one TFL) as junior Shaine Grogan (Peru, MA) and fourth-year John Perron (Worcester, MA/St. John's) combined for 2.5 tackles for a loss.
Despite that fact the Boynton Hillers turned the ball over four times they held commanding margins in first downs (20-12), offensive plays (78-45) and time of possession (38:40-21:20) while also holding slim margins in rushing yards (201-170) and total offense (294-273).
From Worcester State's last touchdown to their game-winning series, the WPI defense held the Blue and Gold to 32 yards of total offense and forced a trio of three-out's for a total of five unsuccessful drives.
Both squads will entertain non-conference opponents in the next week. The Lancers entertain Nichols on a rare Thursday night affair at 7 PM while the Crimson and Gray travel to Leicester for a kick-off against Becker at high noon.