Senior quarterback Zane Fish passed for a career-high four touchdowns and the Saints' defense had five takeaways, as the St. Lawrence University football team defeated WPI by the score of 32-15 at Leckonby Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The win moves the Scarlet and Brown to 6-2, giving head coach Mark Raymond's team its first six-win season since 1991.
The Saints (6-2, 4-1) outgained the Engineers (2-6, 1-4) by a 377-263 margin in total offense, and committed only one turnover to the visitors' five (2 fumble, 3 interceptions). St. Lawrence was also fantastic on fourth down, converting its first four tries of the game, while the red zone offense was also sharp, finishing 5-for-6 scoring on the afternoon.
"We made some early mistakes but we stayed positive and overcame them with some great plays on both sides of the ball," said St. Lawrence head coach Mark Raymond. "Zane did an outstanding job leading the team today."
Fish, who was filling in for the injured Mike Lefflbine, connected on 13-of-23 passes for 196 yards including touchdown tosses to Max Johnson, Evan Shifley and two to Mike Tateosian. Maurice Irby piled up a career-high 144 yards on the ground on 22 rushes including a 15-yard touchdown score. Defensively, senior Andrew Cox returned in style after missing two games, making nine tackles, while James Holley-Grisham, Connor O'Brien and Saahil Fruitwala each had interceptions.
WPI's Eric Lacroix had a huge game defensively finishing with 15 total tackles, while Peter Salem had 3.0 tackles for a loss. The Engineers split time at quarterback between Johny Antonopoulos and Jacob Grills, but did most of their damage on the ground behind Zach Grasis' 112 yards rushing. Grasis finished with a touchdown, as did Antonopoulous, as the two quarterbacks combined for 114 yards rushing.
The Engineers took advantage of several St. Lawrence miscues to take an 8-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. A high snap over the head of Fish led to a safety for WPI at 6:12 for a 2-0 lead, and the Engineers then went 62 yards on 11 plays to push the lead to 8-0. A 31-yard rush by Grasis set up the Engineers, and he was rewarded later in the drive with a 3-yard score. St. Lawrence's Michael Phelan blocked Blaine Bursey's extra point try.
St. Lawrence would right the ship in the second quarter, outscoring WPI 19-0 to take a 19-8 lead into halftime. The Saints got on the board thanks to a 75-yard drive, capped on a 7-yard touchdown toss from Fish to Johnson only 1:54 into the second quarter. Collin Shapiro's extra try missed, keeping the score at 8-6.
After Antonopoulos was picked by Holley-Grisham on 3rd-and-7 on the ensuing possession, Fish led the Saints to a 12-8 lead behind an 11-play, 68-yard drive. Fish kept the drive alive with a key 4th-and-10 rush to move the chains, and later connected with Tateosian over the middle for the touchdown with 7:10 remaining in the period. The two point conversion try failed.
St. Lawrence forced a punt from the WPI offense, and once again went right down the field on an 8-play, 88-yard drive to extend its lead to 18-8. Irby started the drive with a 40-yard rush up the middle, and though the possession appeared to stall with the offense facing a 4th-and-7, Fish connected with Shifley for a 24-yard touchdown with only :42 seconds left in the half. Rookie Andrew Carvalho converted the extra point to cap the first half scoring at 19-8.
The Saints would score on their fourth consecutive possession on the opening drive of the third quarter, as Colby Johnson's 61-yard kick return gave the home team the ball on the WPI 24-yard line. Facing a 4th-and-1 at the 15, St. Lawrence turned to Irby, who rushed up the middle for a touchdown and a 25-8 cushion. Carvalho added the extra point.
WPI kept its hopes alive behind Antonopoulos, who brought his team 74 yards on 7 plays to cut into the St. Lawrence lead with 10:39 left in the third. The Engineers used three rushes for 14+ yards, including the 25 yard touchdown rush by Antonopoulos to make it a 26-14 game. Bursey's extra point was good to make it 26-15.
As rain began to fall harder midway through the quarter, the offenses began to sputter and make field position a premium point of the contest. St. Lawrence sophomore Brodie Corless pinned WPI inside its own 16 twice in the third quarter, allowing the Saints to keep the 26-15 lead intact after three periods.
St. Lawrence would put the finishing touches on another impressive scoring drive only 2:52 into the fourth quarter, extending the lead to 32-15. After a 58-yard pass from Fish-to-Tateosian gave the home team the ball 1st-and-goal at the WPI 1-yard line, the Engineers defense stiffened on three rush attempts and forced a 4th-and-goal try. The Saints abandoned the rush and turned to Fish, who floated a perfect ball to Tateosian for a 1-yard score and a 32-15 cushion. Carvalho's extra point failed.
The Saints' defense would put the finishing touches on the clutch win, forcing two more punts and intercepting two passes to celebrate the 32-15 victory.
St. Lawrence controls its own destiny for a post-season bid, but the Saints will face its toughest test of the year next weekend in Geneva, NY when they square off with nationally-ranked #6 Hobart College. Kick-off is scheduled for 12:00pm.