Worcester, MA --- Junior Zach Grasis (East Brookfield, MA) garnered the Robert Pritchard Award for Most Outstanding Back as he rushed for 147 yards on 27 carries and scored two fourth quarter touchdowns as WPI reclaimed the Transit Trophy with a 27-14 victory over previously undefeated Rensselaer on Saturday afternoon as part of Homecoming Weekend at Alumni Field. Senior co-captain Tim Grupp (Highland Mills, NY) was the recipient of the Robert Pritchard Award as the Most Outstanding Lineman.
WPI sees its record even at 2-2 on the season while RPI slips to 3-1. The contest was the Liberty League opener for both squads.
On the fourth series of the game, junior quarterback Jacob Grills (East Lyme, CT) rolled toward the WPI sideline and found seniorEhab Hamdan (Revere, MA), who entered the game ranked fifth in the nation in receiving touchdowns, open at the 25 yard line for a 43-yard touchdown at 6:41 in the opening frame.
RPI began the second quarter with a second-and-goal on the six yard line. WPI junior Jonathan Arnone (Clinton, MA) forced a fumble and senior co-captain John Kilfoil (Bourne, MA) picked it up for a 15-yard return. Later in the stanza, sophomores Eric Lacroix (Methuen, MA) and Sean Murphy (Mattapoisett, MA) each picked off the visiting Engineers. Both ensuing drives were capped off by a 31- and 29-yard field goal, respectively. Freshman Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL) connected on his first field goal with 9:39 remaining in the half and sent the host Engineers to their locker room with the 13-0 lead as time expired.
Sophomore Jeff Avery (White Plains, NY) scampered into the end zone on a quarterback keep to put RPI on the scoreboard with 2:56 left in the third. On the next drive, WPI used a fake punt with 33 ticks left in the third to help setup a fourth quarter score by Grasis. Facing fourth-and-seven, junior Jake Brown (Fall River, MA) picked up his first career carry on the fake to continue 12-play, 75-yard drive that lasted 4:43.
Later in the frame, WPI used nearly six minutes on an 11-play, 97-yard drive that was stamped by a 46-yard rushing touchdown by Grasis. Sophomore Pat Hogan (Mt. Sinai, NY) hauled in an eight-yard pass from Avery to make it a 27-14 ballgame with 1:37 left.
Bursey made all three extra points for the host Engineers while junior Andrew Franks (Carmel, CA) converted both his PAT chances for RPI to go along with 282 yards on six punts. Sophomore Vinny Tavernelli (Plymouth, MA) racked up 341 yards on seven punts for WPI.
Grills completed 17-of-30 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown while Avery was 10-of-25 with 99 yards and one TD to go along with 67 yards rushing. Hamdan hauled in seven passes, including his sixth touchdown of the year, for a career-best 117 yards whileLarry McGillicuddy (Stow, MA) chipped in with five catches for 41 yards. Nick Schlatz (Bridgewater, MA) had a strong second half on the ground, totaling nine of his 10 carries and finishing with 58 yards. Hogan paced Troy's Engineers with five catches and 35 yards, including the score.
Brown led the WPI defense with nine tackles - six solo - while senior Paul Monahan (Randolph, MA) and sophomore Eric Lacroix(Methuen, MA) each had eight with Monahan notching all of his as a special teams demon. Sophomore Pat Finn (Kingston, MA) and Lacroix each notched one tackle-for-loss while senior Jerrod Heiser (Wynantskill, NY) broke up a pair of passes.
Junior Connor Young (Burnt Hills, NY) paced RPI with seven tackles as junior Colby Tragni (Katonah, NY) and junior Nick Borkowski (Fort Salonga, NY) added six each. Senior Arthur Kuyan (Staten Island, NY) and senior Ted Abriel (Slingerlands, NY) each recorded a sack.
WPI enjoyed an edge in the team statistical categories, winning the first downs (20-18), total yardage (365-287) and time of possessions (31:45-28:15) battles while forcing three turnovers and not committing a miscue themselves.
WPI heads to nationally-ranked Hobart for a noon Liberty League matchup on Saturday. RPI hosts Merchant Marine at 1pm.
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