Football Stymied by Springfield in Season Finale

Ehab Hamden

Worcester, MA --- Springfield struck for a pair of touchdowns in the final 1:05 of the first half and added two more scores 12 seconds apart less than three minutes into the second half to propel the visiting Pride to a 62-23 victory over WPI in the Liberty League football finale for both squads. 

WPI sees its season end with a 2-8 overall record and 1-6 mark in conference play while Springfield, who awaits a possible ECAC Bowl bid on Monday, is now 7-3 on the year and 5-2 in Liberty League action.

After the two teams each came up empty on their initial offensive possession, Springfield got the scoring started when Mike Davis (Madison, CT) ran for 42 yards for the score with 6:05 left in the first, capping off a five-play, 73-yard drive. WPI answered right back, when John Antonoupolos (Cambridge, MA) hit Trev Rancourt (Nashua, NH) for a 26-yard gain down to the ten yard line setting up a 24 yard field goal by Mitch Lewis (Farmington, CT). The Lewis boot with 1:41 left in the quarter sliced the Springfield advantage to 7-3.

The WPI defense gave the Engineers its only lead of the contest early in the second quarter when Shaine Grogan (Dalton, MA) recovered an errant pitch and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked making the score 9-7 with 13:07 left in the half.

Springfield then rattled off the next five touchdowns. Keith Rodman (Northvale, NJ) put the Pride ahead for good when he plunged up the middle for 13 yards for the score. The 2-point conversion attempt failed putting Springfield on top 13-9. Rodman put Springfield on the board again on a 1 yard run with 1:05 left before intermission, and the Pride would score again with just 24 seconds remaining in the half when Jonathon Marrero (Boston, MA) hit Davis on a 67-yard pass, giving the visitors a 27-9 lead into the break.

Springfield began where it left off in the first half when Joel Altavesta (Tewksbury, MA) ran it in from one yard out. The drive started when the Engineers muffed a punt snap turning the ball over on their own 15 yard line. SC would again recover a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Altavista took the next play 19 yards for the score. With a successful extra point, Springfield pushed its lead to 41-9 with 12:43 remaining in the third quarter.

WPI stopped the scoring run late in the third quarter when Christopher O'Connor (Bellerose, NY) recovered a fumble and on the next play, Antonopoulos hit Ehab Hamdan (Revere, MA) for a 58-yard touchdown pass. Springfield scored the first two touchdowns of the fourth when Altavesta ran 34 yards for his third touchdown of the day and Louis Fenaroli (Newtown, CT) scampered 48 yards for a score.

Gallagher Hogan (Portsmouth, NH) scored for WPI on a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:58 remaining and Max Ford (Bloomfield, CT) closed out the scoring with a 11-yard fumble recovery for SC with 1:02 left in the contest.

Altavesta led the Pride's vaunted running attack with 168 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. Davis chipped in with 102 yards on 10 carries and the 67-yard scoring reception. Fanaroli and Rodman also chipped in with 87 and 58 yards rushing yards respectively while Marrero ended the day with 46 yards on the ground and 3-of-5 passing for 87 yards.

Matt Berni (Scarsdale, NY) and Kevin Shields (Melville, NY) each anchored the Springfield defensive effort with five stops. The Pride forced six turnovers on the day, including three fumbles and three interceptions while outgaining the Engineers 590-270.

Hamden led the day offensively with a career-best showing. The junior hauled in five receptions, including a touchdown, for 121 yards. Hogan rushed for 80 yards and a score on 17 carries and Antonoupolos passed for 204 yards. Joey Allen (Yarmouthport, MA) led WPI with nine tackles while Joe Everett (Columbia, CT) capped a standout season for the Engineers with seven stops. O'Connor recovered two fumbles for the Crimson and Gray.

Before the game, WPI honored its 15 seniors including Allen, William Alves (West Warwick, RI), Drew Canniff (Boston, MA), Nick Chambers (Braintree, MA), Everett, Nate Gee (Rutland, MA), Grogan, Hogan, Mitch McClune (Pembroke, MA), Greg Mollnow (Cohoes, NY), Josh Nitso (Londonderry, NH), O'Connor, Rob Winthrop (Holtsville, NY) and Mohamed and Hussein Yatim (Shrewsbury, MA).