WORCESTER, Mass. - Catholic University football freshman Bryan Melara posted 88 yards of total offense, including a career-high 72 yards rushing, but WPI scored just 3:52 into the game and never trailed en route to a 24-0 victory Saturday in a NEWMAC contest at Alumni Stadium.
The Cardinals (0-6, 0-3 NEWMAC) was shutout for the first time in three seasons, a span of 20 games, dating back to a 21-0 loss at Randolph-Macon on Oct. 22, 2016.
Melara averaged 9.0 yards per carry as he had 72 yards rushing on eight carries. He also had two catches for 16 yards.
The Engineers (4-2, 2-1 NEWMAC) won the coin toss and defered, giving the Cardinals the first possession of the game where they drove down to the WPI 46-yard line before a sack pushed them back to their own 49. On fourth down, freshman Ian Macari pinned the Engineers on the 1-yard line following his third 50-yard punt of the season and ninth inside the 20.
However, on its first offensive play of the game, WPI's Julian Nyland connected with Sean McAllen for a 99-yard touchdown pass to put the Engineers ahead 7-0 with 11:08 remaining in the first quarter.
That would prove to be all WPI would need as Catholic was held to 274 yards of total offense and just 23:54 of possession time, its lowest total of the season. The team also committed eight penalties for 89 yards and was 3-of-14 on third-down conversions.
The Cardinal defense forced punts on the next three possessions before the Engineers found the end zone again with 11:25 left in the second quarter when Nyland found Nic Rossi for his second touchdown pass of the game, this time from 25 yards out.
After Catholic's fifth punt of the half, Nyland three his third touchdown of the game on the ensuing possession to put WPI in front 21-0 with 6:12 to play, a lead it would take into halftime.
The Cardinals compiled 152 yards of total offense on its eight possessions in the first half, but had five punts, two turnover on downs and one lost fumble. Of Catholic's eight possessions, three started inside its own 15 and the team's average starting field position was its own 23.
The Cardinal offense had just five second-half possessions, totaling only 7:50 in time of possession, compared to 22:10 for the Engineers. However, the Cardinal defense held WPI to just three points while forcing three punts and a turnover on downs.
Senior Jake Marcelino led the defense with six total tackles, including five solo as well as three pass breakups. The freshman trio of Tommy Antonucci, Rocco Longo and Dieter Kerat also had six tackles while Longo added a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry.
Catholic has a bye week next Saturday before returning home to face Springfield at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 20 for Cardinal Weekend. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.