Football’s Rice, Rossi, and Co., Power Past Merchant Marine

Erik Fyrer

WORCESTER -- Senior Blake Rice (North Branford, CT) accumulated 233 yards and four touchdowns, including two by sophomore Nic Rossi (Freehold, NJ), in a 41-7 WPI win over visiting U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in a NEWMAC Football game Saturday at Alumni Stadium.

The Engineers are now 5-2 on the year and 3-1 in NEWMAC play while the Mariners are 3-4 and 2-3.

Rice connected with Rossi for a 40-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. Just over two minutes later, Rice connected with junior Erik Fyrer (Ipswich, MA) with an 83-yard reception. Junior Spencer Herrington (Clearfield, PA) converted both PATs and added a field goal four seconds into the second.

Merchant Marine broke up the shutout with a 59-yard pass from senior Brice Moore (Pace, FL) to sophomore Joe Vitelli (Warrington, PA) with 11:08 on the scoreboard. WPI sophomore Stephen Lauro (Suffern, NY) returned the ensuing kickoff 79 yards. Herrington's third extra point of the day made it a 24-7 game heading into the break.

On a Mariner drive late in the second, WPI senior Dereck Pacheco (Barnstable, MA) made three consecutive stops, capped by a seven-yard sack to force a punt.

The guests ran 11 plays for 51 yards; however, junior Luca Cerasani (Abington, MA) recovered a fumble at the 30 yard line in the latter portion of the third. Ten plays and 70 yards later, WPI cashed in on the turnover courtesy of a Rice to senior Corey Coogan (North Kingstown, RI) 34-yard touchdown catch.

After the Engineers punted the ball away, sophomore Nick Ostrowski (Charlton, MA) intercepted the ball on the first play of the USMMA drive. Rossi then added a second score as he hauled in a 22-yard TD score on the initial play of the next series early in the fourth. With less than a minute to play Herrington split the uprights with a 36-yarder for the 41-7 final.

Rice was 12-of-23 passing as senior Eric Cosmopulos (Seekonk, MA) was 3-of-5 late in the game. Field achieved his second 100-plus yard game in three outings with 108. Sophomore Sean McAllen (Prospect, CT) chipped in with rushing yards. Fyrer led the receivers with 89 yards and a score, as well as five kickoffs with an average of 58.8 yards, to go along with Rossi's 65 yards and two TDs.

Ostrowski made a game-high nine stops and nabbed an interception. Junior Sam Malafronte (Abington, MA) tallied eight solo tackles and a sack while Pacheco finished with eight tackles (seven solo) and four for-loss, including a sack. Senior Nabeel Tokatli (Worcester, MA) added a sack, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Senior Aaron Hartford (Norwell, MA) also recorded a tackle for-loss.

Moore completed eight passes for 150 yards and a touchdown, as well as 64 yard on 27 carries to pace the rushers. Vitelli totaled 104 yards on four catches and a score.

Freshman Noah Newburgh (Gilbert, AZ) and junior Trever Huss (Orange City, IA) each made eight tackles for the Mariners. Junior Jake Wallace (Pittsburgh, PA) totaled 2.5 for-loss and a sack. Juniors Brian Harris (Yonkers, NY) and Jacob Davis (East Chatham, NY) each collected a tackle for-loss.

The Engineers led in total offense (420-273), both rushing (162-123) and receiving (258-150) yards, and time of possession (34:48-25:12).

WPI is at MIT Saturday at noon and Merchant Marine is at Catholic in two weeks, also a noon start.