Football Falls Short to Nationally-Ranked St. Lawrence in Liberty League Finale

Brian Murtagh
Brian Murtagh

WORCESTER -- The St. Lawrence Saints scored 14 fourth-quarter points, capped by a 35-yard punt return by senior James Holley-Grisham (Rochester, NY) en route to a 28-21 win over host WPI on Senior Day at Alumni Field.

Holley-Grisham, who now has two punt returns for touchdowns this season, had six returns for 87 yards for the Saints (9-1, 6-1 Liberty League), who are ranked 25th in the country according to D3football.com.  The 6-1 finish in the league, assures St. Lawrence a share of the regular season title for the conference with Hobart.  

WPI completes its season 6-4 and 3-4 in its final season in the Liberty League before heading to the NEWMAC in the fall of 2017.  The four Engineers losses were by a combined total of 16 points.

The Engineers went ahead 21-14 with 10:10 left when sophomore Blayne Merchant (Sanderson, FL) picked off a pass deflected by a St. Lawrence receiver and returned it 69 yards for a score. 

After Merchant's pick-six, Sean Richardson (Syracuse, NY), who set a single-season school record with 229 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-32 passing, threaded the needle into double coverage to junior Vincenzo Ferraro (Greenwich, CT) for a 19-yard score. Richardson needed 159 yards to set the record, and Ferraro finished with 121 yards and the score on 6 receptions.

With 2:38 to go, the Engineers were pinned deep to start a drive. From their own 4-yard line, Rice was sacked for a 2-yard loss by senior Chyron Brown-Wallace (Rochester, NY) and a failed conversion on 3rd and eight, graduate student Vinny Tavernelli's (Plymouth, MA) 28-yard punt was returned by Holley-Grisham 35 yards for the winning score. 

After a scoreless first half, the teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, with junior quarterback Blake Rice (North Branford, CT) tying the game twice for the Engineers with a 50-yard strike to sophomore Alex Domond (Cambridge, MA) and a 10-yard connection with senior Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA).  Eccher, who had six catches for 80 yards, finished the season with a career-high receiving 11 touchdowns.  His 132 catches rank third all-time, while 1,949 receiving yards place him fifth in the career leaders. 

Domond registered four receptions for 86 yards while Rice finished 18-of-37 for 272 yards and the two touchdowns. 

Brown-Wallace ended the day with eight tackles, including five for loss, and two sacks, and junior linebacker Skyler Williamson (Canton, T) had 11 tackles, including a sack.

For WPI, junior defensive end Dereck Pacheco (Barnstable, MA) had seven tackles, including four for loss, and two sacks to lead the defense, which only allowed 302 yards. Senior captain Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA), who led the Liberty League with 118 stops this season and 378 in his standout career, finished with a team-high eight tackles, and sophomore Luca Cerasani(Abington, MA) had four tackles and a sack for the Engineers. 

St. Lawrence awaits the word of a possible NCAA Division 3 Tournament bid, which will be announced tomorrow night The Engineers will open the 2017 season 7 p.m. September 1, when they host Anna Maria under the lights.