Leicester, Mass. - WPI earned their first win of the season with a 31-3 victory against the Hawks of Becker College on Saturday at Alumni Field in Leicester.
Becker began the opening drive of the game with excellent field position after a 38 yard kickoff return by sophomore Luis Sanchez (Springfield, MA.). But after a 14 yard rush by sophomore running back Ezequiel Torres (Ledyard, CT.), the Hawks were unable to convert and were forced to punt.
The Engineers responded with a twelve play drive, ending in a 28 yard field goal by senior Cody Beckel (Jupiter, FL.). Senior wide receiver Nick Bean (Middleboro, MA) had three long receptions on that drive for WPI totaling 59 yards. Becker's following drive resulted in an interception by WPI senior John Perron (Worcester, MA.), giving the Engineers great field position at the Becker 35 yard line.
WPI quickly capitalized on the error when senior running back Ernie Mello (Wilmington, MA) capped of a five play drive with a five yard rushing touchdown, giving the Engineers a 10-0 lead.
The ensuing drive by Becker ended with a 42 yard field goal by freshman Chad Bacon (Cumberland, R.I.), giving Becker their first points of the day, and their first scoring drive against WPI since their 2009 game. That ten play drive took the game into the second quarter.
The Engineers immediately responded with a five play drive that took less than two minutes, ending with a one yard touchdown run by Mello and giving WPI a 17-3 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Becker would turn it over on downs in Engineer territory after a sack by WPI's senior Peter Gill (Franklin, MA.) and junior Nick Chambers (Braintree, MA.).
Despite good field position for the Crimson and Gray, the Hawk defense came up huge on the following drive, forcing a three-and-out and a WPI punt. The next two drives saw both Becker and WPI forced to punt on three-and-outs.
With 1:35 left in the half, a promising Becker drive ended in an interception by WPI senior Tom Reid (Braintree, MA.) gave the ball back to WPI with 22 seconds remaining. The teams went into halftime with WPI still leading 17-3.
The early third quarter proved to be a defensive battle. The half began with an impressive 54 yard kick return by Mello of WPI, starting the Engineers' drive on the Becker 31. The Hawk defense came up with a big stand, as WPI would go four-and-out, turning the ball over on downs. Becker was forced to punt five plays later, but the defense once again held strong, forcing another punt. Becker could not convert on the opportunity as WPI soon forced the Hawks to punt the ball back again.
With the Engineers starting from the Becker 37, a seven play drive allowed Mello to punch in another rushing touchdown, this one from the one. WPI took a 24-3 lead.
Two sacks prevented the Hawks from taking advantage of a key WPI penalty on their following drive, forcing Becker to punt once again and drawing the third quarter to a close.
The Engineers began the fourth quarter with a grueling thirteen play, six minute drive, completed when sophomore quarterback Johny Antonopoulos (Cambridge, MA.) found senior wide receiver Manny Cambra (Bethel, CT.) in the end zone, and WPI would take a 31-3 lead.
After another Becker three and out, a WPI drive deep into Hawk territory ended on a fumble caused by sophomore Tevin Loyd (Tifton, GA.) and recovered by senior Ronald Burgess (Boca Raton, FL.) at the Becker 16.
Another three-and-out forced another Hawk punt, and WPI would take over from their own 45. The Hawks, led by two tackles on the drive by junior linebacker Edward Guerrere (Monroe, CT.), forced the Engineers to punt.
Becker took over with 3:55 left in the game, but could not get it going as time would run out on the drive.
WPI senior starting quarterback Pat McAuley (Hingham, MA) left the field early in the second half with an injury, and Antonopoulos would finish the game for the Crimson and Gray. McAuley left with 54 yards passing and 40 yards on the ground. After a slow start, Antonopoulos was impressive in relief, with 69 passing yards and 15 rushing yards. Antonopoulos led two scoring drives, including the touchdown pass to Cambra. Mello had 96 yards rushing on 21 carries, including three of WPI's four touchdowns. Cambra had 86 rushing yards on 13 carries and 19 receiving yards on three catches, including one touchdown reception.
Becker sophomore quarterback Robert Baker (Monroe, CT.) was forced to scramble for much of the day, finishing with 139 passing yards and 15 rushing yards. Freshman running back Tyler Iafelice (Edgewater, N.J.) had 30 yards on five carries. Freshman wide receiver Corinthian Bostic (Jacksonville, FL.) had four receptions for 48 yards.
For the WPI defense, Peter Gill was dominant, with ten tackles and four sacks, stifling Baker throughout the day. Junior linebacker Shaine Grogan (Peru, MA.) had seven tackles and a sack. Junior defensive lineman Nick Chambers (Braintree, MA) had six tackles and a sack. As a unit, the Engineers sacked Baker eight times.
Becker sophomore linebacker Melvin Booker (Roxbury, MA.) and junior defensive lineman Rafael Martinez (Springfield, MA.) were the top standouts for the Hawk defense. Booker had ten tackles, including three for a loss and two sacks. Martinez had six tackles and one sack.
Becker opens their season at 0-3, while WPI is now 1-2. The Hawks kick off their conference schedule next Saturday as they head to Norwich University to take on the Cadets. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30pm. The Engineers of WPI will host Rensselaer, also on Saturday.