Crusaders Close Out Season with 14-7 Victory at WPI

Crusaders Close Out Season with 14-7 Victory at WPI

Box Score

WORCESTER, Mass. – In a cold and overcast afternoon game at Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Alumni Field, Susquehanna closed out its 2010 season with a 14-7 win in a non-conference game against former Liberty League foe WPI.

SU (2-8) took the opening kickoff to the WPI (3-6) 34 yard-line and used five straight runs to earn two first downs to get into Engineers’ territory.

After those two chain-moving runs, the Crusaders went to the air and went three-and-out. A punt by senior Bobby Eppleman (Chester Springs, Pa./Great Valley) pinned the Engineers deep in their own zone after a holding penalty.

WPI was forced to punt on its opening drive after two first downs of its own to put the Crusaders back at its 24 yard line.

Junior quarterback Rich Palazzi (Newfoundland, Pa./Wallenpaupack) recorded his first completion of the day on a swing pass to sophomore Connor McGrath (Sparta, N.J./Pope John XXIII Regional) for an 11-yard gain.

McGrath ran for 99 yards on 20 carries in the first half before leaving the game due to an injury.

SU once again made it into WPI territory but turned the ball over on a reverse pass by freshman Alex Terpening (Mount Airy, Md./South Carroll) that was picked off by Kevin White at the Engineers’ 13 yard line.

The Crusaders entered WPI territory for the third drive in a row after another punt to close out the first quarter. Flipping ends of the field proved to be a difference maker, as Palazzi hooked up with junior Spencer Cox (Myersville, Md./Frederick) for a 27-yard touchdown pass to put SU up, 7-0, in the first two and a half minutes of the second quarter.

After the kickoff, WPI ran two plays before sophomore Teighler Doak (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) forced a fumble that was scooped up by senior Braden Klinger (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) at the WPI 40.

SU marched right down the field in just over three minutes and posted another touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Palazzi. The point after by Eppleman made the score 14-0 with 9:14 left in the half.

Palazzi was 14-for-24 for 184 yards, a touchdown and one interception.

Both teams had to punt on each of their next possessions, but the punt attempt by SU was blocked by Ernie Mello and rolled out of bounds at the SU 27. WPI opted to go for it on fourth and seven, but could only gain six on the pass play and turned the ball over on downs.

WPI had possession for the final play of the half, but a hailmary try from the SU 45 was broken up by Doak to end the first 30 minutes of play.

Both teams exchanged punts in the early part of the second half, but WPI roughed Eppleman on one of those punts and gave SU knew life and moved the ball up to its own 47. A 20-yard Palazzi pass to junior Mike Ritter (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) brought the ball to WPI’s 33. Palazzi then tried to find senior Jose Reina (Tobbyhanna, Pa./Pocono Mountain West) on a streak pattern, but the ball was intercepted at the two yard line.

Ritter finished the game with 101 yards on nine catches. The junior came up just 37 yards short of becoming just the third SU player ever to have 1,000 yards in a season.

As the fourth quarter started, the clouds broke and the sun came out. This seemed to energize WPI, as they moved down the field and got on the board as freshman Johnny Antonopoulos found Trevor Dunne in the endzone for a four-yard pass. The drive lasted 11 plays and covered 74 yards in 3:29 to bring the game to a 14-7 score.

The next SU drive was all about Ritter; the junior returned kickoff 28 yards to the SU 43. Palazzi then hooked up with the wide out down the right sideline for a 38-yard gain. He then caught a three-yard pass to make it third and short. A run by freshman Ryan Carroll (Andover, N.J./Lake Hopatcong) was stuffed at the line and set up Eppleman for a 27-yard field goal attempt. Unfortunatley, Eppleman hooked the kick left of the upright for his first miss of the season and gave WPI the ball at its own 17.

The Engineers tried their own trick play, as Nick Bean caught a lateral from Antonopoulos. Bean then tried to hit a receiver down the right side of the field, but tight coverage by Klingler resulted in an interception and gave SU the ball back at the 33.

SU had to punt the ball back to WPI with just over three minutes left in the game. The Engineers brought the ball all the way down to the SU 16 and forced a fourth down play for the game. Antonopoulos’ pass was tipped by sophomore Ken Schetroma (Elysburg, Pa./Southern Columbia Area) and fell into the hands of sophomore transfer Aaron Inch (Selinsgrove, Pa./Line Mountain). Inch advanced the ball up to the SU 40.

Inch finished the game with 14 tackles, a forced fumble and interception.

The Crusaders tried to run out the clock but WPI had two timeouts and was able to get the ball back with less than a minute left. Eppleman helped out the SU defense by booming a 51-yard punt and forced the Engineers to go 80 yards in 52 seconds with no timeouts.

On a second-and-10 play, Antonopoulos found Josh Less on a crossing pattern and went 28 yards down the field to the 48 yard line.

WPI then had its chance to get into scoring position but a mental mistake of not going out of bounds ran out some time and the final two hailmary attempts fell to the turf and ran out the clock.