Worcester, MA --- Nationally-ranked Hobart registered a pair of touchdowns in the opening five minutes and dodged heavy snowfall in the second half en route to a 27-13 victory over host WPI Saturday in a Liberty League football contest. The Statesman, ranked No. 25 in the latest D3football.com Top 25, remains perfect on the season at 6-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play. WPI is now 2-6 and 1-4 in Liberty League action.
Hobart forced a turnover on WPI's first play from scrimmage when Devin Worthington (Rochester, NY) sacked the WPI quarterback and in the process, forced and recovered a fumble at the Engineer 14. Four plays later Steven Webb (Dundee, NY) dashed in from 4 yards out to put Hobart up 7-0. After the Statesman defense held the hosts to without a first down on its next drive, a botched snap on the ensuing punt set Hobart up at the WPI 18 and two plays later the guests cashed in with a 18-yard scoring scamper by Dominique Ellis (St. Petersburg, FL) to go up 14-0.
After the teams exchanged three-and-outs, Hobart ran into punting difficulties when William Alves (West Warrick, RI) blocked a punt that was recovered by teammate John Perron (Worcester, MA) and returned to the Hobart 35. Running back Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA) broke for a 21-yard run two plays before finding the end zone on a five-yard burst to slice the deficit in half to 14-7.
Hobart answered right back with a four-play, 66-yard drive that featured a 33-yard Webb run and was capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Nick Strang (Hopewell Junction, NY) to Garth Muratori (Briarcliff Manor, NY). The PAT hit the right upright making the score 20-7 Hobart with 4:32 still to go in the first quarter.
The Statesmen extended their advantage to 27-7 midway through the second quarter after Worthington forced and recovered another fumble, this time returning the pigskin 43 yards to the WPI 12. On the next play Bobby Dougherty (Bellerose, NY) went 12 yards to pay dirt to extend the Hobart advantage to 27-7.
On the ensuing drive, WPI marched 56 yards in 5 plays and answered back with a 29-yard scoring strike up the seam from Johny Antonopoulos (Cambridge, MA) to Trevor Dunne (Cedar Knolls, NJ) with 5:24 to go before intermission. The PAT was blocked resulting in a 27-13 Hobart lead.
Hobart threatened on two more occasions before halftime but WPI's Manny Cambra (Bethel, CT), who played both running back and cornerback, recorded a pair of interceptions inside the Engineer 20.
With snow falling throughout the second half, the offensive pace of the game slowed. After a first half that featured a combined 19 drives, the second stanza saw the two teams total only 11 drives. Both team's deepest penetrations, prior to the closing seconds, came late in the third quarter when Hobart was stopped on a fourth and 7 at the WPI 29 and WPI fumbled at the Hobart 13 after a long rush.
Worthington and Coleman both amassed four tackles-for-loss for the Statesmen. Dane Wilcoxen (Fairport, NY) distinguished himself by amassing three solo tackles, forcing one fumble and recovering another. Webb ended the game with 88 rushing yards while Dougherty 83 and Ellis 60.
Tom Thackeray (Braintree, MA) and Hussein Yatim (Shrewsbury, MA) led the defensive effort for WPI with 10 and nine tackles respectively. Mello led all players with 119 yards on the ground and the one score, his 12th of the season. Cambra completed his busy day with a game-best six catches for 43 yards and a pair of tackles to go along with his two interceptions.
Hobart had commending edge in time of possession (34:56 - 25:04) and a slight advantage in total yards (301-246). The two teams combined for eight fumbles, five of which were lost.
After a weekend off, WPI closes out the 2011 campaign on Saturday, November 12th by hosting St. Lawrence at noon. Hobart returns home next weekend for a huge Liberty League contest versus Rensselaer at noon.