Eckler and Murtagh Help Football Cruise to 40-17 Victory at Norwich

Brian Murtagh

Northfield, VT -- Dan Eckler (Stoughton, MA) threw for 342 yards, including touchdowns strikes to four different receivers, and ran for an additional score, while Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA) led players with 14 tackles and chipped in with an interception as WPI went on the road and defeated Norwich 40-17 in a non-conference football contest played on Saturday afternoon.   The Engineers wrap up the non-conference portion of their schedule with a perfect 3-0 record while the host Cadets slip to 0-3.

After Norwich's Tyler Bates (Marblehead, MA) sacked Blake Rice (North Branford, CT) on the second offensive play from scrimmage for WPI,  Eckler led the Crimson and Gray to 34 straight points.  Two plays after Murtagh's interception gave WPI the ball in Cadet territory,  Eckler found Corey Coogan (North Kingston, RI) with a 41 yard scoring dart for the junior's first career touchdown.   

The guests kept the pressure on in the second quarter and after two plays after Eckler connected on a 52 yard pass to Steven Thulin (Walpole, MA), the senior quarterback bowled in from one yard out to make it 14-2.  WPI closed out the first half scoring when Eckler opened a drive by hitting Alex Domond (Cambridge) with a 68-yard scoring strike.  The third quarter was also all WPI with Eckler tossing touchdown passes of 21 and 32 yards respectively to Mitjon Celaj (Worcester, MA) and Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA).  

Norwich halted WPI's spurt of 34 straight points in the fourth quarter with 15 straight points of its own, including its second safety of the day and touchdown passes from quarterback Philippe Bazinet (Otterburn Park, Quebec) to Dayvon Medina (Lauderhill, FL) and Trystan Colaire (Pickering, Ontario) to cut the WPI advantage to 34-17 but Coogan hauled in a 37 yard scoring strike from Rice to close out the scoring with just under five minutes remaining in the game.

Eckler finished the day with 342 yards passing on 13 of 18 attempts.  The senior averaged 26.3 yards per completion and now sees his pass efficiently rating sit at an eye-popping 240.38 on the season.  Eccher hit the 100-yard mark with four catches for 113 yards, including the 100th reception of his career, while Domond fell just three yards short with three grabs for 97 yards.  Freshman running back Sean McAllen (Prospect, CT) amassed 85 yards on 21 carries.     

Murtagh continued his sensational senior season with a game-best 14 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, to go along with his interception, a pair of pass breakups and a hurry.  Francis Lubega (Ashland, MA) and Dereck Pacheco (Barnstable, MA) both added sacks while Sam Malafronte (Abington, MA) and Max Murphy (Powder Springs, GA) collaborated on another.  Blayne Merchant (Sanderson, FL) finished with eight tackles and Collin Saunders (Westwood, NJ) chipped in with an interception.  

Both teams open up conference play next weekend.  WPI will head to Springfield for a 1:30pm Liberty League match-up while Norwich will host Mount Ida at 1:30 in an ECFC affair.  Next year WPI and Norwich will play each other as members of the NEWMAC.