Troy, NY --- Junior Dereck Pacheco (Barnstable, MA) logged 10 tackles, including 2.5 for-loss, a sack and a key safety in the fourth quarter, as WPI reclaimed the Transit Trophy with a 19-7 victory over host RPI Saturday in a Liberty League football tilt at East Campus Stadium.
The transit returns to Worcester after a two-year hiatus. It is the program's 12th victory since the trophy was introduced while head coach Chris Robertson is now 4-3 in the rivalry game. The team also completed the season sweep of its Engineering rivals, having edged MIT, 37-34, in overtime week one.
Trailing 7-3 with 4:13 to play in the third, freshman Sean McAllen (Prospect, CT) broke the plane on a one-yard plunge and senior Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL) was successful on the PAT to give the Crimson and Gray the 10-7 advantage. With 6:19 remaining in the game, Pacheco brought down junior Ethan Wells (Windsor, MA) in the end zone for the safety, making it a 12-7 ballgame. Nearly four minutes later, freshman Connor Field (Granby, CT) ran one in for an insurance score to make it 19-7 following another Bursey point after.
It was a defensive battle throughout as neither team eclipsed 300 total yards of offense in the game. The visiting Engineers had 143 total yards (101 passing) on 46 plays in the first 30 minutes, while Rensselaer managed 127 (114 rushing) yards on 22 plays. Both teams turned the ball over twice in the first half.
Bursey broke the 0-0 stalemate with 11:24 in the second with a 29-yard field goal.
Following punts by both teams to open the second half, RPI got on the scoreboard with an eight-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with a six-yard run on a jet sweep by junior Nick Esposito (Wantagh, NY) at the 7:44 mark. Highlights of the drive included a 15-yard run by sophomore Maliek Kelly (Staten Island, NY) and a 39-yard run by freshman quarterback Tommy Avery (White Plains, NY), who was making his first career start.
The RPI defense forced a punt on the next set of downs, but WPI got the ball back immediately when senior Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA), the leading tackler in the Liberty League, sacked Avery and forced a fumble, which was recovered by junior Nabeel Tokatli (Worcester, MA). WPI got a 23-yard completion from senior Dan Eckler (Stoughton, MA) to classmate Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA) and eventually worked the ball to the one-yard line. McAllen then leaped over a pile to give the Engineers a 10-7 lead.
Eckler completed 13 of 32 passes for 158 yards with an interception, while rushing for 47 yards on 14 carries. McAllen led WPI on the ground with 54 yards and Field was the top receiver with 41 yards on three receptions. Murtagh (4 solo), Pacheco (3 solo) and sophomore Sam Malafronte (Abington, MA), who had five unassisted stops, each had 10 tackles.
Senior Alexander Greenidge (Miller Place, NY) led all players with 15 tackles, including five unassisted, 1.5 for lost yards (2) and a fumble recovery. Junior Brandt Beck (Mohnton, PA) added nine stops with five unassisted and 0.5 for lost yards (1). Avery led all rushers with 97 yards on the ground with another 41 (4 of 14) in the air. He was intercepted once.
WPI, which improves to 5-2 and 2-2, hosts Hobart Saturday at noon. RPI, which is now 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the Liberty League, is idle next week.
Majority Release Courtesy RPI Sports Information