Fast Start Propels Football Past Worcester State

Chad DellaPorta

WORCESTER -- Senior Dan Eckler (Stoughton, MA) helped account for a quartet of touchdowns, including one on the ground, in the first half to propel WPI past Worcester State, 41-7, in a non-conference football game Friday night at Alumni Stadium.

The opening quarter saw the hosts score on their first three possessions. Senior Marcus Middleton (Stoughton, MA) hauled in a 32-yard reception and Eckler later kept it for a two-yard plunge. The Hockomock duo of Eckler and senior Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA) connected twice in the end zone on the third drive, with the second counting. Liberty League Special Teams Performer of the Week senior Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL) converted all three PAT attempts for the 21-0 lead after the first 15 minutes of action. Eckler and Eccher teamed up for another TD with 8:30 remaining in the half.

After several punts by both sides, senior Jason Lamb (Plymouth, MA) picked off the Lancers and returned it 19 yards before being pushed out of bounds by junior Ponce de Leon (Charlton, MA). Bursey capped the drive with a 36-yard field goal to make it 31-0 with 2:33 remaining in the third. Bursey hit a 35-yarder in the fourth quarter for the 34-0 lead.

The Lancers broke up the shutout with 7:36 to play thanks to a 28-yard rush by sophomore Hunter Paupaw (Hudson, MA). 

The action picked up from there as WSU sophomore Theo Bryant (Lowell, MA) recovered a fumble, only to have Lamb return a 47-yard pick-six. Sophomore Spencer Herrington (Clearfield, PA) added the extra point. The Lancers had their final drive thwarted by senior Lou Garcia (Springfield, MA) in the end zone.

Eckler finished with 142 yards on 9-of-10 passing and 29 yards rushing, while junior Blake Rice (North Branford, CT) added 68 yards and connected on eight of 13 passes. Freshmen Sean McAllen (Prospect, CT) and Connor Field (Granby, CT) each ran for 60 yards on a total of 28 attempts. Sophomore Alex Domond (Cambridge, MA) led the receivers with 75 yards on five carries followed by Middleton with 63 yards on four attempts. Eccher chipped in with 42 yards on four catches.

Senior Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA) and sophomore Blayne Merchant (Sanderson, FL) each accumulated 11 tackles followed by sophomore Luca Cerasani (Abington, MA) with seven. Junior Dereck Pacheco (Barnstable, MA) and sophomore Kyle Havey (North Reading, MA) also collected six apiece.Cerasani led with 2.5 sacks to go along with 1.5 by Pacheco and once each by Merchant and sophomore Sam Malafronte (Abington, MA).

Sophomore Cam Charette (Fairhaven, MA), freshman Ismael Jenkins (Lawrence, MA) and junior Anthony Napolitano (Massapequa, NY) all saw time under center for the Lancers. sophomore Matt Lezama (Milton, MA) rushed 11 times for 57 yards. Senior Tyler Barrie (Oxford, MA) notched a game-best 82 receiving yards on three catches.

Junior Samuel Weeks (Methuen, MA) logged a game-best 12 tackles, including two sacks, followed by Bryant with eight. senior Stanley Udor (Marietta, GA) and senior Michael Gomes (Worcester, MA) each added six stops.

WPI took advantage of all five red zone chances and narrowly doubled uo the Lancers in third down efficiency (43% to 23%). 

The Engineers (2-0) head to Norwich Saturday for a 2pm kickoff. Worcester State (0-2) hosts Bridgewater State at 1pm, also on Saturday.

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