WORCESTER – The WPI football team found the end zone on all five of their possessions in the second half, scoring 35 unanswered points and overcoming a 17-point deficit to defeat Worcester State University 38-20 in the season opener for both teams on Friday evening at Alumni Stadium.
WPI gained 324 yards on the ground, averaging 6.6 yards per rush, and was led by the three-headed rushing attack of Hunter Carey (South Hadley, MA), Brandon Winn (Tewksbury, MA), and Zachary Levy (Bellingham, MA), who accounted for all five scores.
Carey rushed 17 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns, Winn went for 97 yards and a score, and Levy added 91 yards on 11 carries and two TDs.
It was Carey who found the end zone for the eventual game-winning touchdown, but all three backs were instrumental in the come-from-behind victory, after the Lancers scored three straight touchdowns to take a 20-3 lead with 13:29 left in the third.
Carey scored from 23 yards out to cut the deficit to 20-10, and then, after WPI forced a three and out, Levy capped a four-play drive with a 22-yard touchdown rush, set up by 32 yards on three rushes from Winn.
Another stop by the WPI defense forced a punt before Carey scored from 28 yards out to put the Engineers in the lead for good, 24-20.
While the Engineers made hay on the ground, it was an air attack for Worcester State, as they gained 339 yards on the arm of quarterback Aaron-Moses Williams (Springfield, MA). The standout receiver for the Lancers was sophomore Ke'Vaughn Davis (Utica, NY), who caught 11 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
Williams was driving the Lancers towards a score to retake the lead in the fourth quarter, but Ethan Catania (Amesbury, MA) picked off his pass in the end zone to keep Worcester State off the board. On the ensuing WPI possession, Winn had a huge 28-yard rush and Carey had a key fourth down conversion before Winn found the end zone from two yards out to give the hosts an 11-point lead.
The Engineers sealed the victory with three and a half minutes left in the game when Nica Hesel (Downingtown, PA) sacked Williams for a loss of 17 yards and forced a fumble that was recovered by Evan Wertz (Franklin, MA), setting up the Engineers at the Worcester State 22. Three rushes by Levy later, WPI was in the end zone again and in possession of a three-score lead.
Davis was the key to Worcester State's early success. After WPI took a 3-0 lead on a 34-yard field goal by Bryce Wade (Modesto, CA), Davis caught 4 passes for 68 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown, to give the visitors their first lead of the night. After a 1-yard touchdown run by Mike Loveless (Nashua, NH) sent the teams to the locker room with Worcester State ahead 13-3, Davis found the end zone again on a 76 yard pass from Williams with 13:29 to play in the third quarter.
Williams finished the night completing 21-29 passes for 339 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. In addition to Davis, he found Dylan Hall (Plainville, CT) four times for 64 yards and Deion Osei-Sarpong (Holden, MA) four times for 36 yards.
In addition to the field goal, Wade was 5-5 on extra points, while Kyle Wall (Sterling, MA) kicked a pair of extra points for the Lancers.
Defensively, WPI was led by Derrick Doncaster (Kingston, MA), who had eight tackles, and Wertz, who had 7 stops to go with his fumble recovery. The Lancers got a game-high 10 tackles from Noah Peterson (Millbury, MA), who also had a tackle for loss, an interception and two pass breakups.
WPI improves to 1-0 on the year and will prepare for another primetime game when they travel to play Endicott under the lights next Friday at 7 pm.
Worcester State (0-1) hosts Union next Saturday at 12 pm in their 2021 home opener.