Last Minute TD Pass from Rice to Thulin Gives Football 37-34 Thriller Over Rochester

Blake Rice

Rochester, NY --- Blake Rice (North Branford, CT) threw for three touchdowns and ran for another to lead visiting WPI to a come-from-behind 37-34 victory over the University of Rochester at Edwin Fauver Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

He led the Engineers back from a 34-23 deficit in the fourth quarter with 13:14 remaining. He finished 19 for 39 for 314 yards and the three scores. He was intercepted twice. He ran nine times for 93 net yards and one TD. He helped seal the win by catching a two-point conversion pass after the goa-head TD with 42 seconds remaining. 

WPI rolled up 215 yards rushing and 314 through the air. The visitors increased their record to 6-3 overall, 3-3 in the Liberty League. Rochester is 1-7 overall, 0-6 in the Liberty League. The Yellowjackets had 195 yards rushing and 247 on the ground. Dan Bronson (Lockport, NY) completed 21 of 32 passes for 195 yards and one score. He also ran for a career high 192 yards and one TD. 

The Engineer defense had four sacks – three against Bronson (Luca Cerasani (Abington, MA) had 1.5) and one against Kyle Allegrini (Ringwood, NJ) on an option pass.  Rochester did not register a sack but did have six tackles behind the line and two interceptions – one by Ricky Sparks (Syracuse, NY) and one by Brandon Passalacqua (Seneca Falls, NY). 

Allegrini caught a 13-yard TD pass from Bronson in the first quarter and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a TD early in the fourth. That touchdown put Rochester ahead, 34-23. It came amid a scoring flurry with three TDs in a span of 59 seconds. 

WPI took a 17-14 lead on its first possession of the third quarter. Brandon Eccher (Franklin, MA) made a fair catch of a punt at the WPI48. Rochester was whistled for kick-catching interference. The 15-yard penalty moved the ball to the Rochester 37. Rice threw a 23-yard pass to Alex Domond (Cambridge, MA) and Sean McAllen (Prospect, CT) rushed five yards to the nine. Rice bolted up the middle for a nine-yard TD and Blaine Bursey (Middleburg, FL) made the PAT with 12:20 left in the period. 

Rochester answered immediately. Tyler Tanen (Morganville, NG) returned the kickoff 34 yards to the UR 40. On first down, Bronson kept up the middle, angled around a defender, and raced 60 yards for a touchdown. Andrew Haber's (Niskayuna, NY) PAT made it 21-17 with 11:57 left. 

Early in the fourth, an unsportsmanlike penalty against WPI put the ball on the WPI49. Bronson ran for 31 yards. On the next play, Harry Calmar (Stonington, CT) carried around right end for a 20-yard touchdown. Haber's PAT made it 28-17. 

Rice completed three passes in a scoring drive that got the Engineers within 34-29. He hit Domond for 41 yards, Steven Thulin (Walpole, MA) for three yards, and then nine yards to a slanting Domond over the middle. A two-point attempt failed, leaving WPI five points down with more than 10 minutes left.

Rochester recovered an onside kick at the WPI 41. Rochester, behind Calmar's six yards and 11 from Bronson, reached the 24 where Bronson was sacked. The Yellowjackets couldn't convert on fourth down and WPI took over at its own 27 with 6:57 left. 

The biggest catch of the winning TD drive came three plays before the actual score. WPI faced 3rd-and-10 at the Rochester 31. Rice threw over the middle for Eccher. The ball was deflected and Paul DePlacido (Billerica, MA) made a diving catch for WPI at the 11. Three plays later, Rice threw to a diving Thulin in the end zone, then caught the two-point pass from Montano for the three-point lead. 

Rochester took over with 37 seconds left. The Yellowjackets moved to their 41. On 2nd-and-6, Bronson hit Allegrini over the middle at the 45. He tried to lateral it but it was picked off by Nabeel Tokatli (Worcester, MA) at the WPI 43 and returned 22 yards to the WPI 35. Rice knelt with the snap. 

Rice threw TD passes to Eccher (for 25 yards), to Domond (9 yards), and to Thulin (10 yards). The Engineers were 1-3 on two-point tries. Bursey made two PATs and a 24-yard field goal. 

For Rochester, Calmar scored on runs of 19 yards and 20 yards. Bronson had the 60-yard TD run and the 13-yard scoring pass to Allegrini. Haber was 4-5 on PATs.

WPI closes out the regular season Saturday at home versus nationally-ranked St. Lawrence. Rochester heads to conference co-leader Hobart on the same day for its finale. 

Release Courtesy Rochester Sports Information