The St. Lawrence University football team committed five turnovers on Saturday, as WPI used its defense to set up offensive chances en route to a 36-17 Liberty League victory over the Saints at Alumni Field in Worcester, MA. WPI's Mitch McClune set a school record with four interceptions for the home team, while quarterback John Antonopoulos accounted for four touchdowns and a career-high 347 passing yards.
The Engineers improve to 2-6 (1-4), while St. Lawrence falls to 0-8 (0-5). Evan Shifley and Colby Johnson each had receiving touchdowns for the Scarlet and Brown, while rookie Jake Gnieser had 91 yards on 20 carries. Antonopoulos was 26-of-47 passing for 347 yards and three scores, including seven completions to Aaron Marshall, who had 111 yards and a touchdown. Danny Metzgar was under center for St. Lawrence, completing 27-of-45 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown, but was plagued by four interceptions.
McClune had the big day defensively with four picks and five tackles, while Shaine Grogan and Mike Grasis had a game-high 10 tackles for the home team. First-year student Leondre Simmon had eight tackles to lead St. Lawrence, while Joe Napolitano had seven tackles including a forced fumble.
WPI scored on its first drive to take a 7-0 lead, but St. Lawrence cut into the deficit thanks to a 31-yard field goal by senior Chris Dris on the ensuing possession. The Engineers would get those points back to cap the first quarter scoring, as Mitch Lewis was good from 28 yards out to give WPI a 10-3 lead at the end of one.
Though Napolitano kept WPI out of the end zone by forcing a fumble at the 1-yard line and recovering it early in the second quarter, the Saints' offense was unable to get a first down, giving WPI excellent field position after the punt. Antonopoulos moved his team 45-yards in six plays, capped by a 9-yard touchdown strike on 3rd down to Ehab Hamdan to open up a 16-3 lead. Lewis' kick failed.
As the two teams exchanged possessions throughout much of the second quarter, the Saints looked to have a scoring chance before the half, as they took over at the WPI 44 with 1:43 left. However, McClune made his first interception of Metzgar on 1st down, and Antonopoulos took advantage three plays later with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Marshall to end the first half with the home team up 22-3.
With the defenses controlling the third quarter, St. Lawrence used some trickery to get back into the game. Metzgar lateraled the ball to rookie Joe Battaglia at the WPI 27, who then fired a pass to Colby Johnson in the end zone for the touchdown. Dris' extra point made it 22-10.
St. Lawrence would strike again on its next drive, taking only three plays before Metzgar connected with Shifley for a 34-yard touchdown that go the Saints within striking distance, trailing 22-17 after Dris' extra point.
The Saints would get the ball back trailing by the same margin, but were forced to punt after being hit with one of six penalties on the day, this one a 10-yard holding call. Antonopoulos would make them pay on the ensuing drive, marching 62-yards in six plays, capped by a 6-yard score to Anthony Andre. WPI's lead was 29-17 after Lewis hit the extra point, but saw the lead climb to 36-17 after scoring on its next drive when Gallagher Hogan rushed in from one yard out with 2:14 remaining to put the game away.
St. Lawrence will play its final home game next Saturday as part of "Homecoming Weekend", as the Saints host nationally-ranked Hobart College at Leckonby Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:30pm.