Football wins final- Adams breaks recordBRISTOL, RI -- The Beavers ended a trying season Saturday on a high note, defeating Roger Williams 23-22 despite a last-minute Hawk touchdown. MIT finished the year with a 3-5 record. The Roger Williams Hawks ended the season with a 0-8 record.
Halfback Chris Adams '87 rushed for 169 yards to set a new MIT single season rushing record of 683 yards. He entered the game as MIT's number two rusher behind fullback Hugh Ekberg '88. The Hawks keyed on Ekberg, allowing Adams room to set the record. Ekberg ended the season with 600 yards, also eclipsing the previous record of 588 set in 1983.
Roger Williams was not able to do much on their first possession. The swarming Beaver defense led by tri-captain Nick Nowack '86 dominated the line of scrimmage all day.
The MIT offense struggled early in the game. A Hawk interception was typical of the Beavers' passing game, which ranked last in the league entering Saturday's game.
The Hawks, taking advantage of the turnover, put together their first drive of the day, culminating in a 25 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Eric Brooks to open the scoring in the first quarter. Brooks also played free safety and punter. The Hawks have only have 32 players on their roster; most of their players play both offense and defense.
The Beavers then proceeded to put together a drive. On fourth and two in the second quarter, Head Coach Dwight Smith called for a flea flicker. Quarterback Peter Gasparini '88 tossed a screen pass to Adams who lofted the ball 25 yards downfield to Ken Corless '86. Corless claimed the Roger Williams safety held him on the play. The official disagreed, and ruled the play an incomplete pass.
Having stopped MIT, Roger Williams drove downfield until the Beavers held tough on their 10 yard line.
Adams and Ekberg led the Beavers' next drive on the ground. Gasparini, on his second turnover of the day, fumbled the football away to Roger Williams to prematurely end the drive.
The stingy MIT defense again stopped the Hawks, Rich Rice '87 sacking quarterback Chris McCaffrey on fourth down.
On fourth down in their next series, the Beavers went into a punting formation. Gasparini, who handles the punting chores in addition to quarterback duties, reeled off a pass to Adams who was knocked out of bounds just short of a first down.
After forcing the Hawks to punt, the Beavers marched down the field. Faced with a fourth down and 16 at the 24 yard line, and 29 seconds remaining in the half, Coach Smith called for a cross pass to Jason Jonas '88. The pass, Jonas' first reception of the year, was good for six points. Gasparini, having just completed his third TD pass of the year, kicked the point after, making the halftime score seven to seven.
MIT took the second half kick-off and marched the length of the field. At the Hawks 2 yard line, Ekberg plowed over left tackle to put the Beavers ahead 14-7.
The defense pinned Roger Williams deep in their own territory. On third down Peter Drews '89 roared through the line and sacked McCaffrey in the end zone for a safety. This brought the score at the end of the third quarter to 16-7.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Beavers recovered the free kick at the Hawks' 48 yard line. Led by the rushing of Ekberg and Adams, the Beavers ate up yardage and the clock. Adams brought the ball down to the 1 foot line and Ekberg carried it the rest of the way, going over the center for the score. Gasparini's kick put the Beavers ahead, 23-7.
The desperate Hawks would not give up. With 3:30 remaining in the game, Andy Robinson outran the MIT safeties to snag a 45-yard pass for a touchdown. The Hawks, down by ten points, chose not to go for the two point conversion. If they had succeeded on one here, another touchdown and two-point conversion would have given Roger Williams a tie. The kick was good, and the Beavers clung to a nine point lead.
After forcing the Beavers to punt, Roger Williams took over on the MIT 46-yard line, with under a minute remaining in the game. On first down, defensive back Hong Yang '87 broke up a pass. On second down defensive tackle Kevin Poulin '88 sacked McCaffrey for a 10 yard loss. The third down pass fell incomplete.
With just four seconds remaining in the game McCaffrey unloaded a screen pass to Robinson who scampered 56 yards, by several tacklers to the end zone for a touchdown. With no time remaining on the clock, the Hawks successfully converted their two point play to tight end Shawn Mahoney.
On the bus ride back to MIT, the team saluted departing defensive captains Larry Monroe G and Nick Nowak '86. Monroe, a 6'7" 240 pound defensive tackle, received the game ball. Monroe's parents traveled 1200 miles from Arab, AL, to watch their son play in his final college game.
Offensive guard John Newton '86 spent his last afternoon in MIT's trenches after five years of service. Newton played this game with 18 stitches in his chin and a dislocated thumb. Asked how he felt about leaving, he said, "It's emotional, [football] has been something very important in my life, and I would do it all over again."
Gasparini doesn't "intend to play quarterback again next year." Gasparini said he would like to move out to flanker or wide receiver, leaving the quarterbacking duties to Sean McIntyre '89. Gasparini played hurt most of the season, passed while wearing a flak jacket and a neck wrap.
The defense's leading tackler Mark Hanson, who had 91 tackles this season despite missing a game with an eye injury, will be back next year. The offense should be strong again next season with both Ekberg and Adams returning.
The Beaver's final record is quite deceptive. "I don't think we're a 3-5 team," said Jonas. Three games this year were lost by a combined total of seven points, so MIT could easily have been 6-2, according to Ken Cerino, MIT sports information director.