Late Hobart Touchdown Stuns Football in Game Featuring Five Fourth Quarter Lead Changes

Nabeel Tokatli

WORCESTER -- Junior Shane Sweeney (Phelps, NY) became Hobart's single-season passing leader, and senior Jack Pfohl (Cicero, NY) scored an 18-yard touchdown with three seconds to go as the Statesmen upended host WPI, 35-31, in a Liberty League football game Saturday at Alumni Stadium. 

With the win, Hobart, who is ranked 25th in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division III poll and receiving votes in the Top 25, ups its record to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in league play. The Engineers dip to 5-3 and 2-3. 

Sweeney (26 for 36), who only needed 74 yards to claim the record, totaled 346 for a season total of 4,073. For WPI, senior Dan Eckler (Stoughton, MA) became the programs all-time passing leader with 5,571 yards and classmate Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA) moved up to fourth place in career receptions with 121. 

The fourth quarter featured five lead changes. Hobart claimed the 21-17 advantage as Pfohl hauled in a 25-yard pass seven seconds in. Eccher scored his first of the day with a 33-yard connection with 6:05 to play. Junior Brandon Shed (West Palm Beach, FL) made it 28-24 Statesmen with a 13-yard catch as 1:41 remained. Eccher added another with an 11-yard reception with 22 seconds to play. Hobart then marched into field goal territory and appeared to be going for overtime; however, the guests took a timeout to regroup and send out their offense which scored with three ticks remaining. 

After a WPI three-and-out, junior Nabeel Tokatli (Worcester, MA) came through with a sack on a flea-flicker. Three plays later, classmate Dereck Pacheco (Barnstable, MA) sacked the QB and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Tokatli at the 50. The Engineers had a first-and-goal at the six; however, Hobart junior Tom D'Antonio (Greenwich, CT) picked it off in the end zone. Hobart punted the ball away on the ensuing possession. 

The Engineers then marched 89 yards on 12 plays, punctuated by a 10-yard run by freshman Sean McAllen (Prospect, CT). Despite chewing up 6:20, the Statesman came up empty, thanks in part to a Pacheco sack on a fourth-and-eight. They would get the ball back thanks to a fumble forced and recovered by D'Antonio. 

With 5:56 remaining in the half, Sweeney found Shed for a six-yard pass to even the game at 7-7. Senior Marcus Jemison (Nyack, NY) gave the Statesmen the lead when he blocked a punt setting up his own scoop and score following another WPI three-and-out. 

The third quarter saw senior Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL) drill a field goal midway through the frame and Eckler find Thulin for a 55-yard score with 3:09left. Senior Michael Harper (Westwood, NJ) picked off a pass late in the third which turned into a Pfohl touchdown seven seconds into the fourth. 

Pfohl finished with a school-record 197 yards on 12 catches followed by Shed with seven for 91 on seven. Senior Bradley Burns (Hoosic Falls, NY) delivered 46 yards on 10 runs.  

Freshman Jedh Downey (Norwood, NJ) and junior Almamy Conde (Bronx, NY) each recorded eight tackles. Conde, sophomore AJ McFarlane (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada) and sophomore Sean Moore (Bohemia, NY) each had a sack as the Statesman totaled nine tackles for loss. D'Antonio and Harper each hauled in an interception, and D'Antonio and junior Brandon Bell (Springville, NY) made the recoveries. 

Eckler went 24 for 35 for 376 yards and three scores. McAllen paced the Engineers with 41 yards on 12 attempts and a TD. Sophomore Alex Domond (Cambridge, MA) racked up 155 yards on seven receptions as Eccher totaled 85 yards.   

Senior Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA) led all student-athletes with 10 stops while Pacheco accounted for a two of the Engineers five sacks. Tokatli also logged a sack and pitched in with a fumble recovery. Sophomores Luca Cerasani (Abington, MA) and Blayne Merchant (Sanderson, FL) also got their hands on the QB. 

The Engineers outgained the Statesmen 400-371 in the air and 120-55 on the ground. The guests had a slight edge in time of possession (30:24-29:36). 

WPI travels to Rochester for a noon kickoff and Hobart heads to St. Lawrence for a 1pm start.