For a full month, the Springfield College football team didn’t look like themselves. In October, the Pride offense wasn’t clicking like it was at the beginning. Ever since a heartbreaking loss to Rochester in week four, the Pride were just 1-2, scoring under 30 points in each of their games, the first time the Pride had been held to such low scoring totals since 2008.
But with a return to New York, the Pride offense seemed to regain their mojo that they left behind in September, rolling to 35-28 victory over RPI on Saturday, improving their record to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in Liberty League play.
“One thing our guys do is battle hard the entire game,” said head coach Mike DeLong. “The players battled hard in a real tight game. We had an opportunity to put it away and we turned it over, but we played hard the entire game.”
Tim O’Brien led the Pride with 129 yards on the ground with three touchdowns, as well as adding 92 yards through the air.
Jonathan Marrero added 101 yards on the ground and Christian Clarke ran for 90 yards on 26 carries.
As a team, the Pride rolled up 328 yards on the ground on 61 carries.
RPI took the lead early, taking advantage of good field position. After getting the ball at the Springfield 41-yard line, Jessie Maynard hooked up with Pat Hogan from 26-yards out to give the Engineers the 7-0 advantage.
After RPI held off Springfield on the next two drives, an excellent punt from Tyler Rouse gave the Engineers the ball on their own 1-yard line. On second-and-nine, Danny Macalena forced a fumble, recovered by Josh Lombardi.
O’Brien scored on second-and-goal to tie the game at 7.
The tie would be short lived. On the ensuing possession, RPI marched down the field, using a 16-yard hook up from Brendan McGlynn to Hogan to put the ball inside Springfield territory. McGlynn then hit Joe Cozzolino from 47-yards out to put RPI up 14-7.
Springfield answered on the following possession, as O’Brien hit Jason Woods for a 53-yard gain, setting up a 7-yard touchdown run from Christian Rodriguez.
The Pride would take the 21-14 advantage before the half when O’Brien ran in for his second score of the day from 33-yards out.
O’Brien would add to the lead in the third quarter when he took off for a 52-yard score, putting Springfield up 28-14.
A 19-yard connection from McGlynn to Logan Gaddar cut the Pride lead to 28-21, before Marrero bolted for a 91-yard touchdown run to give the Pride a 14 point edge.
After a second McGlynn to Gaddar connection cut the lead to seven, the Engineers had an opportunity to tie the game, taking over at the Springfield 22-yard line. After a 19-yard carry from Andrew Armato put the ball at the Springfield 3-yard line, the Pride defense came up with the stop of the game. Facing first-and-goal, the Pride stuffed an Armato and McGlynn carry, before forcing an incompletion on third down.
With the ball on the 1-yard line, Umberto DiMeo and the Pride defense stuffed Brendan McGlynn for a loss of one.
The Pride offense went on a 14-play drive, lasting almost eight minutes to seal the game.
“The offense executed,” DeLong said. “Coach Cerasuolo had an excellent game plan. As we went in he made adjustments, and we made a couple plays. (O’Brien) threw a couple nice passes in there, and once he got in a rhythm he took what they gave us.”
The Pride face WPI in the final game of the season this weekend at home. If the Pride win, they will be eligible for one of the three ECAC Northeast bowl games. A loss would knock the Pride out of eligibility.
“The Seniors never think that day will ever come (Senior game),” said DeLong. “We burn that shoe Friday night, it’s an emotional time for them, hope the parents are there on Saturday. I tell them, Seniors have a tendency to remember their last game.”