Second Half Rally Propels Rochester By Football

Hussein Yatim

Rochester, NY --- Clarence Onyiriuka (Painted Post, NY) ran for 158 yards and three touchdowns to lead the University of Rochester to a 28-21 victory over Worcester Polytechnic Institute at Edwin Fauver Stadium here today.

He scored all three TDs in the second half as Rochester rallied from deficits of 14-7 and 21-13. Joe Cicero (Fairport, NY) caught a four-yard TD pass from Braezen Subick (Mahwah, NJ) for the first Rochester touchdown. Alex Antonucci (New York, NY) made one PAT and kicked a 21 yard field goal for the Yellowjackets. Rochester is 3-3 overall, 2-2 in the Liberty League.

WPI quarterback Johny Antonopoulos (Cambridge, MA) passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He threw a three-yard TD pass to Nick Bean (Middleboro, MA)  and a 12-yarder to Josh Less (Fitchburg, MA) late in the third quarter. The TD to Bean put the Engineers ahead, 7-0. The scoring pass to Less opened a 21-13 lead. WPI is 2-5, 1-3 in the Liberty League.

Onyiriuka carried the ball 31 times for 158 yards. He also caught a 16-yard pass. Subick hit 12 of 19 for 137 yards. He was sacked four times, twice by Shaine Grogan (Peru, MA). Rochester totaled 299 yards in offense – 162 rushing, 137 passing.

Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA) rushed 19 times for 48 net yards, including a 20-yard TD midway through the second half which pushed WPI in front, 14-7. Antonopoulos hit 17 of 28 passes for 169 yards with one interception. He was sacked three times.

Rochester's Shaquill McCullers fumbled a handoff and Grogan recovered for the Engineers at the Rochester 27 early in the first half. Antonopoulos hit Bean for 17 yards. Four plays later, on third and goal, Rochester was flagged for pass interference in the end zone. It put the ball on the one. Mello was stopped twice before Antonopoulos found Bean on a rollout to the left. Cody Beckel's (Jupiter, FL) PAT made it 7-0.

Rochester drove 58 yards in eight plays to tie it. Onyiriuka rushed five times for 27 yards in the drive before Subick connected with Cicero on second and goal from the four.

Mello broke up the middle for a 20-yard TD with 7:47 left in the second half. Rochester did force a punt late in the quarter. Subick hit two passes to move the ball to the 16 before he was sacked on back to back plays by Grogan, ending the half.

The Yellowjackets drove 50 yards in eight plays to start the second half. Subick found Thomas Hayes (Syracuse, NY) for 27 yards down to the one. Onyiriuka went through left guard for the TD. Antonucci's PAT was blocked.

WPI answered with a 12-play, 69-yard drive to stretch the lead to 21-13. Antonopoulos converted three third downs, two on passes to Bean, the third a 12-yard TD to Less. Beckel's PAT made it 21-131.

Rochester got a 46-yard kickoff return by Chris Lebano (Brooklyn, NY) to set up a six-play 36-yard scoring drive. Onyiriuka leapt into the end zone from four yards out. The Yellowjackets went for two, but Subick's pass was intercepted by Christopher O'Connor (Bellerose, NY).

The fourth quarter was filled with fireworks. WPI moved from its own 28 to the Rochester 13 when three passes fell incomplete. Beckel's 31-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Zach Cicero (Fairport, NY) for a touchback. Rochester drove 80 yards in seven plays to take the lead. On third and one from the WPI 46, Onyiriuka broke up the middle, broke 3 tackles, and burst free for a 46-yard TD run.  That put Rochester ahead, 25-21, with 6:09 to play. The two-point pass failed again.

Antonopoulos was intercepted by Rochester's Tyler Kette (Bay Village, OH) at the WPI 37 with 5:30 to play. Subick drove the Yellowjackets down to the four where Antonucci kicked his field goal for a 28-21 lead with 1:59 left.

Mello's 32-yard kickoff return put the ball on the WPI 46. After a pass for no gain to Mello, two passes fell incomplete. Antonopoulos scrambled on fourth down and was six yards shy of first down. Rochester ran out the clock.

Zach Cicero led Rochester with 12 tackles (three solo). Tony Ortega (Rochester, NY) had 10 stops. Kette, making his first career start, had seven tackles, one interception, and three pass breakups. Rochester had 11 tackles for loss.

Peter Gill (Franklin, MA/Franklin), Hussein Yatim (Shrewsbury, MA/Shrewsbury), and Grogan all had 10 tackles for WPI.  The Engineers had five tackles for loss; four of those were sacks.

WPI is back at home next week, hosting league leader Hobart at noon.

Release courtesy Rochester Sports Information