By Harrison Kelly
After walloping the Mount Ida Mustangs 32-0 last Saturday, the atmosphere here at Stagg Field was positive. Manhandling defense and head coach Mike Cerasuolo’s first win jump started a winning aura, leaving fans expecting another win against WPI on Family Day Weekend.
The first-half performance of the Pride left the packed bleachers disappointed. Leaving a 17-0 deficit, Springfield failed to find its identity on offense and defense.
With another half to play, Cerasuolo looked to freshman Chad Shade to take over at quarterback after Steve Comee failed to produce. Shade went from holding a clipboard, to holding the game ball after absolutely taking the game over, outscoring the Engineers 28-6 in the second half. Shade finished with 76 passing yards and 164 rushing yards on 20 attempts, to go along with three scores.
A second win for the Pride brings them to an even 2-2, with the momentum carrying into next week’s game.
The first half was slow, uninspired football from Cerasuolo’s bunch, uncharacteristic from what fans have seen in weeks past.
WPI had its sight set on Springfield’s option plays, and was well prepared from start to finish. Springfield only racked up 73 yards on the ground. A lack of a passing attack prevented the Pride from picking up first downs and sustaining drives.
WPI’s defense dominated Springfield’s offense, more specifically their offensive line. With no turf in between tackles, rushers Jordan Wilcox and Comee were stagnant. The Engineer’s defense also forced two turnovers, keeping Springfield’s offense off the field.
This all changed after halftime, with Shade coming to the rescue. Shade was the driving force that upstarted the Pride offense, rushing and passing his way to scoring drives.
Late in the third quarter, Springfield drew up a play that is seldom used in their offense. Shade took the snap, then looked downfield to his deep receiver Tyler Hyde for a 54-yard gain. This was the moment where it seemed the Pride were in control of the game. Two plays later and Springfield was within a score after being down 17-0.
Coming out after halftime, Shade was confident. He said, “Being the backup QB, I’m ready to go no matter what. I’m ready to make plays.”
Cerasuolo also had confidence handing the keys to Shade, commenting on the freshman’s wild style of play.
“When he started to do that twistee stuff, we used to see that quite a bit at Cushing Academy last year,” Cerasuolo said. “A lot of what you saw on his highlight tape is what you saw out here today.”
Carving up the defense with each drive, Springfield found themselves winning 28-23, with a WPI two-point conversion try on the way. Springfield’s secondary came up big as the fade to the corner of the end zone was broken up, forcing WPI to score another touchdown.
As time winded down, Springfield needed one more stop to seal their fate and get to 2-2. A failed deep pass and a sack led their defensive stand and the Engineers were forced to hook-and-ladder their way to a first down. After failing to do so, The Pride took over and lined up in their victory formation.
Springfield escaped with the win on the shoulders of freshman phenom Chad Shade. Look for him to compete and practice and get the nod next week at St. Lawrence.