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Football Suffers First Loss at Home, 36-12

By Thomas Kettler
Staff Reporter

The MIT Beavers lost Saturday to the Westfield State College Owls 3612, but the team had supporters with the crowd totaling more than 800.

The nonconference loss puts the team 14 overall, but it remains 12 in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference.

The star for Westfield was Tim Lightfoot who rushed for a school-tying record 200 yards and four touchdowns.

In the first quarter both offenses struggled as each team's defense dominated. This was seen early when after only 1 minute, 30 seconds into the quarter when MIT's Kevin Ferrigno '95 recovered a fumbled snap at the Westfield 26. After a series of plays moved the ball to the Owls' 4, Chris Brown '95 scored on a screen pass from Alex Sgouros '94 with 10:01 left. However, the point-after-touchdown (PAT) attempt went wide right to give the Beaver's an early 60 lead.

After the MIT score, Westfield could not manage a first down. However, they got the ball back on the punt when the 18-yard kick bounced and touched a Beavers' player with 9:02 left. The MIT defense stiffened and Westfield punted again on the resulting series getting a coffin-corner kick out-of-bounds at the MIT 14. From there, the Beavers had a good series of plays but lost the ball on downs at the Owls' 31.

From their 31, Westfield consistently moved the ball down the field. They had it at the MIT 24 when the quarter ended. After that, they moved the ball to the 10 before three incomplete passes to Nate Montiero resulted in a successful 27-yard field goal with 13:20 left in the second quarter to close the score to 63. Their drive consumed 17 plays as they had the ball for over four minutes.

On the kickoff, the Beavers fumbled with T.J. Cole of the Owls recovering the ball at the Beaver 3. With 12:11 left, Lightfoot had the first of his four touchdown runs with a five-yard plunge. Sean Jennings converted the PAT to give Westfield a 106 lead which they would hold for the rest of the match.

The next kickoff fell out of bounds so MIT took the ball at its own 35. After three runs netting seven yards, the Beavers made a very gutsy call on fourth down. Noting that the Owls had the return on, the punter and quarterback Scott Vollrath '95 ran 12 yards for the first down after receiving the snap. However, the drive stalled and Vollrath then punted the ball to the Westfield 21.

After two runs of eight yards, Lightfoot scored again on a 71-yard run with 7:20 to play. During the run, he made some MIT tacklers miss. Jennings failed to convert the PAT so the Owls led 166.

On the resulting kickoff, Troy Gayeski '96 dazzled the home crowd with a 52-yard return from the Beaver five. After the five-yard facemask penalty, MIT had the ball at the Westfield 38. However, Matt Fihlman of the Owls intercepted a pass by Sgouros at the 20 on the very next play to foil another possible scoring attempt for the Beavers at 7:02. Westfield had another 17-play drive which culminated in a 15-yard TD pass from Derek Catelotti to Tyler Gerry with 46 seconds left. The resulting PAT made the score 236 which was the halftime score since the Beavers drive stalled when Rick Riley intercepted another Sgouros pass on a Hail-Mary.

Westfield's kickoff to start the third quarter went through the end zone so MIT started the second half from its own 20. The Beavers then took the ball all the way for a touchdown on their best offensive drive of the day while holding the ball for 12 plays and 7:29. In this series, Vollrath replaced Sgouros at quarterback as MIT went to an option-style offense and ran the option very effectively so it may be seen again in future games according to head coach Dwight Smith. Shawn Stern '97 ran the ball 12 yards for the score with 7:31 left in the quarter. The pass after the fake kick fell incomplete so Westfield led 2312.

The Owls answered the MIT drive with a six-play, 58-yard drive of their own for a touchdown. Lightfoot finished the series with his third touchdown on a 10-yard run with 4:53 left in the quarter. Jennings converted the PAT to give Westfield a 3012 lead.

After that touchdown, MIT could not get a first down and punted. The Owls took the punt and moved the ball down the field. They continued to move the ball until the quarter ended. However, their drive stalled and they punted the ball so the Beavers received it on their own 11. The drive ended when Sgouros had a third pass intercepted by Riley who returned the ball 30 yards to the MIT 8. Lightfoot scored again on a six-yard run with 12:55 left in the game. However, the Beavers blocked the PAT attempt to hold the score at 3612.

MIT mounted one last drive with 5:30 left to play from their 43. They moved the ball successfully to the Westfield 13. However, the Owls took over on downs with 55 seconds to play in the game and then ran out the clock.

Some high points exist for the Beavers. Vollrath's running ability at quarterback makes the option a formidable weapon on offense. Gayeski averaged almost 30 yards on kickoff returns. Also, MIT had four defense players get 10 or more tackles in the game. Andy Carnell '94 led the team with 13 while Dave Hwang G and Ferrigno added 11 and Brad Gray '97 added 10.

Head coach Smith remained upbeat saying that his team's losses have been against good teams. "We're a lot better than the 14 [record] shows. We played two [NCAA] Division II teams, Salve Regina which is top ranked, one of the top ranked Division III teams, and this team which is number four in New England in Division III."

"The key to our season will be the next three weeks," he said. The team will face three Division III opponents in upcoming games.

Smith also remarked on next week's Homecoming game against Curry: "We should have a good effort for that one, but they've got a great quarterback this year and that's our weakness."