By Matt Noonan
WORCESTER, MA – Quick thoughts from WPI’s first conference victory against RPI.
* The Engineers of WPI (it was a battle of Engineers) retained the Transit Trophy, an additional part of the 107-year-old rivalry that was started after both teams met in 1979. WPI had won the trophy in 2010 and 2011, but lost it last season in Troy, New York.
* Last week against Norwich University, WPI’s defense struggled to exit the field due to the Cadets running game, but this afternoon they forced three turnovers – two interceptions and one forced fumble, which energized the offense to conclude the contest with three touchdowns and two field goals.
* Quarterback Jacob Grills, who finished 17-of-30 for 184 yards and one touchdown, provided WPI with the lead for good when he connected with Ehab Hamdan for a 43-yard strike down the sidelines in the opening session. Hamdan, who entered the contest with five touchdown grabs, now has six receiving touchdowns and leads all Liberty League receivers.
* Zach Grasis rushed for his third 100-yard performance this season as the junior halfback finished the contest with 147 yards on 27 carries for two scores. Grasis talked after the game about how important it is for the Engineers to use the running game to open up the air attack. (You’ll be able to see that in our video interview, which will be posted later).
* Defensively, WPI’s Jake Brown recorded a game-high nine tackles (six solo). Ryan Mathie provided challenges for RPI’s offensive line and finished with six solo tackles, while John Kilfoil recorded two tackles and the lone fumble recovery.
Biggest Takeaway: Today’s game was probably WPI’s best performance of the season on both sides of the ball, but it was their defense that really made an impact. Chris Robertson’s defense not only forced three turnovers, but also stopped RPI’s offense seven third downs. Stopping Liberty League foes on third down will be one of the biggest keys to victory going forward, as well as forcing turnovers, too.
Next Up: The Engineers travel to Hobart next weekend, which will be their biggest test of the season. The Statesmen, who’re 3-0 and 1-0 in the Liberty League, defeated WPI last season in Worcester, 61-8.