Springfield, MA --- Led by sophomore quarterback Jonathan Marrero (Boston, MA) with 17 carries for 131 yards, the Springfield College Football team defeated WPI 35-21 on Senior Day, in Liberty League Football action on Saturday afternoon at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field.
With the win, Springfield improves to 6-3 overall, and 3-3 in conference, while the Engineers fall to 3-7 overall, and 2-5 in the Liberty League.
After a series that resulted in a missed 30-yard field goal from freshman Blaine Bursey(Middleburg, Fla.), Marerro and company took over at their own 20-yard line attempting to put up the first points of the day.
Just 9:58 into the contest, Marrero pitched the ball to freshman running back Christian Rodriguez(Wayne, NJ) from eight yards out, who broke a few tackles and crossed the goal line after an impressive diving effort to stay inside the pylon. Tyler Rouse (Hagaman, NY) nailed the extra point to give Springfield a 7-0 lead.
After a strong defensive showing from the Pride, forcing the Engineers to punt, Marerro cruised down the center of the field untouched from 58 yards out with 1:43 remaining in the first quarter to extend Springfield's lead to 14-0.
With 10:26 remaining in the second quarter senior quarterback John Antonopoulos (Cambridge, MA) sparked the Engineer sideline when he received a 6-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Brian Marsh (Wynantskill, NY) on a trick play allowing for WPI to narrow the Springfield lead to seven points.
Following the score, freshman Joe Festo (Yorktown Heights, NY) showed off his speed and cruised down the Springfield College sideline, returning the ensuing kick-off 95 yards to make the score 21-14 with 10:14 left in the second quarter.
With 57 seconds remaining in the half, Antonopoulos found senior wide receiver Ehab Hamdan(Revere, MA) in the back of the end zone of the eighth time this season to once again narrow the Springfield College lead to seven points, going into halftime with a score of 21-14.
Late in the third quarter, Louis Fenaroli (Newtown, CT) took a hand-off from Marerro with 1:26 to play and carried the ball 14 yards and into the end zone to give the Pride a 28-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
With 11:08 remaining in the game, Antonopoulos called his own number, carrying the ball into the end zone from 1-yard out, making it a 28-21 contest heading into the final minutes.
After a strong defensive stand led by senior free safety Sam Weiss (Glasser, NJ) in which Antonopolous was unable to connect with Hamden twice in four downs, the Pride took over on their own 16-yard line.
On a third down play, with 1:58 remaining in the contest, the Pride drew up a double-reverse which turned loose senior wide receiver James Poggio (East Granby, CT.) for a 79-yard touchdown run, icing the 35-21 victory for the Pride. Senior Patrick O'Connor (Sayville, NY) led Springfield defensively, registering seven tackles and an interception, while Weiss attributed six tackles and a game saving play where he ripped the ball out of Hamden's hands in the end zone to preserve the Pride's 14-point lead.
Antonopolous ended his career by passing for 212 yards and running 82. The senior pulled the rare feat of rushing, passing and receiving a touchdown in the game and finishes his career fifth in passing yards (3402), fourth in completions (293), third in attempts (621) and fourth in total offense (3890).
Running back Zach Grasis (East Brookfield, MA) galloped for 134 yards on 27 carries and finished with the third highest rushing total in the 124-year history of WPI football. The junior totaled 1,214 yards and reached the 100 yard mark for the seventh time this season and ninth in his career. Hamdan seized 10 balls for 131 years and the touchdown. He ended his senior season with 56 receptions, fifth all-time, just a catch away from a three-way tie for second place.
Brian Murtagh (Wayland, MA), Jonathan Arnone (Clinton, MA) and Ryan Mathie (Smithtown, NY) all registered seven tackles for WPI, who outgained the Pride (438 to 383), led in first downs (27 to 17), time of possession (35:40 to 24:20) and forced turnover margin (4 to 3).
Majority of release courtesy Springfield Sports Information