Canton, NY --- The St. Lawrence University football team were crowned the 2010 Liberty League champions for the first time in the program's history with a 27-7 win over WPI on Saturday afternoon on Weeks Field at Leckonby Stadium in Canton, NY. Junior Marcus Washington (Pahokee, FL) set the University single game rushing record, while the team honored its 16 members of the Class of 2011 on "Senior Day."
With the victory, the Saints (5-5) own the Liberty League title outright with a 5-1 mark in conference play. The team will await its destination for the 2010 NCAA Football Playoffs, with next weekend's games announced on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Engineers finish their 2010 campaign with a 3-7 record and 1-5 in conference.
Washington's record-setting performance was a memorable one for the Saints, as he piled up 258 total yards on the ground to break the University's single game rushing record set in 1982 by Keith Henry (229). Following the victory, the team was awarded the Liberty League Football Trophy before heading to the Victory Bell to sing the alma mater.
The Saints defense dominated WPI, holding the Engineers to just seven points and forcing six turnovers including four interceptions. Junior Phil Hamilton (Winthrop, MA) paced the defense with 14 tackles including a sack, while senior captain Nate Howard (Durham, NH) and junior Trevor Saunders (Mount Vernon, NY) added nine tackles each. Saunders added an interception and a fumble recovery, while juniors Brendan McCarthy (Fairport, NY) and Jarell Roberts (Orlando, FL) and senior captain Ben Cryts (Derry, NH) each had an interception.
The Scarlet and Brown got on the board on their second scoring drive as senior quarterback JP Kearney threw from the 50 yard line to Alcee Walker (West Palm Beach, FL), who spun past a WPI defender and raced towards the goal line. Though he was taken down at the 1-yard line, junior Matthew Pickrell (Montreal, Canada) punched it in for the touchdown on the next play. Junior Matthew Dodge (Meredith, NH) added the extra point to put the Saints ahead 7-0 at 7:15.
On the ensuing WPI drive, Roberts intercepted WPI quarterback Johny Antonopoulos (Cambridge, MA) which led to a 35-yard field goal by Dodge as the Saints went ahead 10-0 at the end of the first quarter. On WPI's opening drive of the second quarter, the Saints defense stopped the Engineers before they entered the red zone as junior Phil Hamilton (Winthrop, MA) sacked Antonopoulos on a 4th-and-4 for a loss of six and inherited the ball their own 30 yard line. Washington then rushed for a 61-yard gain to swing the field position in the Saints' favor to the WPI 9-yard line. The rush led to a 24-yard field goal by Dodge, giving the Saints a 13-0 cushion at halftime.
The Saints continued to attack offensively on their opening drive of the third quarter, as the team marched 60 yards in nine plays with the help of a 34-yard rush by Washington to the WPI 9-yard line to set up 1st-and-goal. On second down, Kearney found senior captain Tim Robinson (Vorheesville, NY) in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown reception. Another extra point conversion by Dodge put the Saints up 20-0 with 9:50 to play in the third.
Antonopoulos would attempt to lead an Engineer comeback, as he hooked up with Trevor Dunne (Cedar Knolls, NJ) for a 58-yard gain on the next WPI drive. The completion would lead to a 12-yard touchdown run by Aaron Champagne (Fairfield, ME) with 7:39 remaining in the third quarter. Cody Beckel (Jupiter, FL) added the extra point, pulling the visitors to within two scores at 20-7.
Later in the quarter, Washington would continue to pummel the Engineers defense with back-to-back runs that totaled 43 yards and moved the Saints into the red zone. After junior Ramon Mignott (Bridgeport, CT) got the Saints to the WPI 7-yard line, Pickrell finished the drive with his second touchdown run of the game with 30 seconds left in the third. Dodge's extra point gave the Scarlet and Brown a 27-7 lead.
Though the Engineers would orchestrate two impressive drives that led deep into St. Lawrence territory, a pair of turnovers would doom the visitors and allow the Saints to celebrate the victory. Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA) fumbled the ball on 1st-and-goal at the Saints' 10-yard line, which McCarthy recovered by the Scarlet and Brown to end the scoring threat. McCarthy then followed with an interception on the next WPI drive at his own 13-yard line. The Saints offense responded by running out the final 7:00 minutes on the game clock with an 11-play drive to ensure the team's victory.
St. Lawrence finished with 306 total rushing yards, while Mello led WPI with 61 yards on the ground. Antonopoulos was 11-of-28 passing for 114 yards, but threw four picks while Kearney was 5-of-11 for 90 yards and a touchdown.
The Saints honored the team's seniors prior to the game including Louis Jenkins (Sunrise, FL), Wendell Caesar (Brooklyn, NY), Cryts, Walker, Kearney, Michael Baraldi (Chelmsford, MA), Chris Shineman (Palatine Bridge, NY), Dillon Huntley (Canton, NY), Ryan Fedo (Warwick, RI), Andrew Leiser (Bar Harbor, ME), Shane Hoffman (South Salem, NY), Robinson, John Morton (Penfield, NY), Chris Palmer (Portsmouth, RI), Howard and Mike Barry.
St. Lawrence will compete in the 2010 NCAA Football Playoffs for the first time since 1982 and for the fourth time in school history (1976, 1978, 1982)
Release Courtesy St. Lawrence Sports Information