Football Stymied by Worcester State in Home Opener

Eric Lacroix

Worcester, MA --- Worcester State senior quarterback Kevin Bumpus (Bridgewater, MA) went 23-for-41, threw for 237 yards and added a pair of rushing touchdowns and junior tailback Kemani Jones (Milton, MA) topped 100 yards on the ground and added a score as the Lancers topped host WPI, 30-17, in a city football showdown in front of an overflow crowd at Alumni Stadium on Friday night. 

The Lancers, who have now won the last four meetings, moved to 2-0 while the Engineers evened out at 1-1. 

Junior Zach Grasis (East Brookfield, MA) netted 59 yards, before an early exit from the game, to move past Mike Robinson '80 and secure eighth place on the all-time WPI rushing yard ledger with 1,721. 

WPI junior Sean Murphy (Mattapoisett, MA) opened the game with a 75-yard fumble return on the kickoff. Sophomore Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL) then hit the PAT for the early 7-0 lead. 

After a drive stalled for the Crimson and Gray courtesy of a sack by Worcester State senior Bryan Narcisse (Medway, MA), Sprague put the Lancers in good field position with a 46-yard punt return. The ensuing effort ended when the Blue and Gold were unable to convert a 4th-and-1 in the red zone. 

The Lancers had a chance to put points on the board before the period expired, however, Murphy picked off Bumpus at the nine yard line. 

Worcester State began the second quarter with a blocked punt to begin a drive at the three yard line. Bumpus quickly took it to the house with a quarterback keep. A PAT by freshman Sebastian Paz (Orlando, FL) evened the game at 7-7.  Three plays later, the Engineers were picked off by senior Mike Goulden (Rehoboth, MA) to setup a one-yard plunge by junior Stephen Payen (Clermont, FL). Paz once again converted the point after as the Lancers took the 14-7 advantage. 

WPI responded with a 13-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a field goal by Bursey to cut the deficit to 14-10 with 7:01 left in the half. The Lancers next two possessions were thwarted by an interception as sophomore Jason Lamb (Plymouth, MA) made a grab at the 24 yard line while classmate Kevin Lynch (East Bridgewater, MA) returned his pick 38 yards to help setup a missed field goal attempt. Both teams were forced to punt in their respective final possessions of the half. 

When play resumed, the pattern continued until Worcester State grinded out a seven-play, 44-yard drive that ended with a missed field goal. With 2:08 remaining in the third, Jones capped a nine-play, 59-yard drive with a one-yard scamper and Paz converted the extra point to give the guests a 21-10 advantage. 

After trading punts, senior Zack Skerry (Milford, MA) and Narcisse logged back-to-back sacks with the latter causing a safety as WSU pushed its lead to 23-10 with 13:07 left in the game. 

Bumpus later punched one in from two-yards out following a nine-play, 57-yard drive that chewed up 5:10. Paz's fourth point after of the game then made it 30-10 Lancers with 7:42 to play. 

Sophomore Trey Pierce's (Charleston, SC) sparked the WPI offense late in the fourth courtesy of a 39-yard run, and combined with a Bursey PAT, to make it a 30-17 game with 1:51 left. 

Eckler threw for 146 yards on 16-of-39 passing while sophomore Joe Igoe (Framingham, MA) caught seven passes for 62 yards. Pierce led the Engineer rushing corps with 70 yards on 13 attempts. Junior Vinny Tavernelli (Plymouth, MA) once again out-punted his opponent with 393 yards on 10 punts, with three falling inside the 20. 

Sophomore Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA) and junior Eric Lacroix (Methuen, MA) shared game-high honors with 11 tackles apiece. Lamb added seven and senior Robert Harasimowicz (Gardner, MA) chipped in with six. Jason Beauregard (New Bedford, MA) logged two tackles for loss, including one sack to go with senior Steve Barker's (Saugus, MA) six-yard sack. 

Jones finished with 101 yards on 17 carries while Payen and junior Matthew Lezama (Milton, MA) combined for 115 yards on the ground. Senior Dana Barry (Hudson, MA) led the WSU receivers with 71 yards on seven carries followed by senior Casey Hippert (Douglas, MA) with 59 yards on four receptions. Senior Jeremy Burke (Mansfield, MA) booted the ball 154 yards on seven punts, including two inside the 20. 

WSU senior Jack Sprague (Maynard, MA), who reached the 1,000-yard milestone last week against Anna Maria, caught five passes for 47 yards.

Sophomore Rafael Guzman (Cambridge, MA), Narcisse (2 sacks) and Skerry (sack) all had six tackles for the Lancers. As a team, Worcester State amassed eight tackles for loss for 37 yards. Orlando and freshman Myles Cofield (South Walpole, MA) were each credited with a pair of pass breakups. 

The Lancers held a significant advantage in offense (469-277 yards) while holding the WPI defense to one-for-16 on third downs. 

Both teams return to action at 1pm next Saturday. The Engineers travel to Norwich for its final non-conference test while Worcester State hosts Bridgewater State to kick off its MASCAC portion of the schedule.