In the final home game for 12 players — and student assistant Grantham Raymond — the Springfield College football team wrapped up another successful season on Stagg Field with a, 42-21, win over Liberty League foe, RPI. Senior fullback Joel Altavesta made the most of his final home contest with a game-high 170 yards and a touchdown while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
He was not alone in going wild on his Senior Day. Mike Davis (62 yards, touchdowns), Andy Bean (three carries, 21 yards), Phil Baier (two catches, 57 yards, touchdown), Brian Staub (seven tackles, fumble recovery), TJ DeMartino (five tackles), Kevin Shields (five tackles) and Ricky Peacock (6/6 extra points) all made impacts on the stat sheet, Duke Ekblom paved the way on the offensive line and Mike Escalante contributed on special teams. Brian Cupole was injured and did not play.
“There aren’t many of ’em but they’ve done a great job of playing with young kids and helping to bring them along,” said coach Mike DeLong. “It’s nice that in their last game here they could go off with a solid win. I thought we did a lot of nice things in the second half.”
The Pride scored the final 28 points of the game to score a hard-fought win over a very talented RPI squad. Jon Marrero’s 14-yard touchdown run with 1:37 left in the third quarter gave Springfield the lead for good.
Things did not start off as well as they ended for the Pride, however. On the first drive of the game, a missed pitch by Marrero ended up on the turf where the Engineer’s Corey White scooped it up and went in for a 34-yard score, opening the scoring without their offense touching the field.
From there though, things began to even out. Mike Hermann found Matt Wood for a six-yard score to put the Engineers back on top and Springfield answered with an aerial strike of their own as Marrero hit Baier in the back of the end zone with the senior making an athletic play to get his toes down and even the score.
Hermann struck again early in the second quarter with a four-yard strike to Nick Weber to give the Engineers the lead back. In what became a glorified game of “HORSE,” Marrero answered by finding James Poggio for a 10-yard score — which was made more impressive by the fact that the junior wide receiver was falling backwards as he caught it.
Poggio’s score was crucial because it came with 20 seconds to play in the half and helped give Springfield the momentum going into the half.
“It at least got us back to even after giving up that fumble at the beginning of the game,” said DeLong.
The second half was all Springfield. After a penalty on a punt return backed them up to their own seven-yard line, Springfield went on their most effective drive of the game — and possibly the season — to take the lead.
Altavesta started it off with an eight-yard punch to give them some breathing room. Marrero hit Baier for a big 42-yard play and Poggio for 14 to get them deep into RPI territory. Altavesta went for 10 more yards before Marrero scored the go-ahead touchdown to cap off a six-play, 93 yard drive that lasted just 1:37.
From there, the defense took over lead by Sam Weiss (seven tackles, two pass breakups, interception) and Max Nacewicz (six tackles, 1.5 sacks). The Pride kept the Engineers off the board for the remainder of the game after making some adjustments at the half.
“The pass rush really started getting to the quarterback [in the second, third and foruth quarter] which got him out of the pocket and scrabling around,” said Weiss. “When he’s worried about Nacewicz or [Kashden] Narine back there it makes our job in the backfield that much easier.”
Marrero would add another score, rushing in from seven, while Altavesta would get his from a yard out to cap off his strong day.
“Joel ran really hard and really tough,” said DeLong. “But what he also did was run through tackles and he really slid off his blocks well.”
Springfield will take the field for their final game next Saturday at WPI. With a win, they would officially be in the conversation for an ECAC Bowl.