Football Back to .500 With A Big Win Over Worcester State CollegeBy Alvan Eric P. Loreto
Over the course of the season the MIT football team has shown proficiency at the game of “catch-up.” Last Saturday against Worcester State, they tested their hand at the less familiar game of “catch-me-if-you-can.”
The result? Child’s play.
Remaining a step ahead of the Lancers for three quarters, the Beaver option attack broke the game open with two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns, and MIT cruised to a convincing 27-7 road victory. The late offensive surge complemented another outstanding afternoon for the Beaver defense, which allowed WSC no points in the second half. With the win the Beavers evened their record at 4-4 (3-3 NEFC), continuing their whirlwind turnaround from last year’s disappointing 1-win season.
QB Skordal shines against WSC
In contrast to their usual grind-it-out, bend-but-don’t-break style, the Beavers relied on big plays to hurt the Lancers (1-7, 1-5 NEFC) and eventually put the contest out of reach. Quarterback David R. Skordal ’02 completed 8 passes for 173 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions, averaging a whopping 21.6 yards per completion. Skordal’s performance, which included 68 rushing yards and 1 TD on 15 carries (4.5-yard avg), earned him a spot on the NEFC Weekly Offensive Honor Roll. The Beavers also benefited from five Lancer turnovers and a few stellar individual efforts on special teams.
Facing a third-and-long in Lancer territory early in the first quarter, MIT got on the board first thanks to a 20-yard TD pass from Skordal to Robert R. Owsley ’02. With the WSC cornerbacks up on the line in press coverage (a situation Skordal took advantage of all day), Owsley broke up the field and slanted inside, finding a seam within the secondary to make a stumbling grab in the end zone.
The Lancers answered back in the second quarter with a 9-play, 39-yard drive off an MIT fumble. On fourth-and-goal from the MIT 1-yard line, running back Chris Parker bowled into the end zone for Worcester’s only score of the game, knotting the score at 7.
Loreto’s return leads to TD
With the score remaining tied to start the second half, the Beavers grabbed the lead for good on the strength of a dazzling opening kickoff return from Alvan Eric P. Loreto ’01. After fielding the kick, Loreto started up the middle and broke right, finding the open field behind excellent blocks from Jacob P. Zucker ’02 and Brian C. Alvarez ’02. The 5’5” junior shook a tackle at midfield and raced down the sideline to the Worcester State 3-yard line, where he was dragged down by a swarm of WSC defenders. Three plays later Skordal plunged into the end zone for the score, and kicker Kevin M. Ferguson ’02 converted to push the Beaver lead to 14-7.
On the ensuing drive the Lancers moved the ball down to the MIT 1-yard line, but a fierce goal line stand by the Beavers kept Worcester off the scoreboard. MIT received the ball back but could not move it, forcing a punt out of their end zone. In the face of fierce outside pressure from the WSC rushers, Ferguson responded with a booming, rolling 53-yard punt to get the Beavers out of danger.
The Lancers would again draw close, but the MIT defense pitched a second goal-line stand to keep them from scoring. Touchdown-saving tackles were made by lineman Philip J. Colomy ’00 and safety Brian D. Hoying ’03, and a fourth-down pass attempt by WSC quarterback Mike Weiss fell short to keep the Beavers in front. Weiss, a freshman, struggled all day, finishing with only 4 completions on 13 attempts for a season-low 37 yards.
Skordal comes up big yet again
The next MIT opportunity produced a touchdown that not only pushed the game out of reach but demoralized the Worcester State faithful. Facing a fourth quarter third-and-long situation deep in Lancer territory, Skordal dropped back to pass and was immediately flushed out of the pocket. After scrambling backwards and spinning to elude three sure WSC sacks, the bold sophomore found his favorite target, tight end Keith Battochi ’02, at the Lancer one yard line. This jaw-dropping display of athleticism paved the way for a 1-yard TD by bruising fullback Kip Johann-Berkel ’02 on the very next play.
Forced to go to the air for the remainder of the game, the Lancers could not move the ball against a fired-up MIT defense. Looking for his favorite target, standout wide receiver Jeremy Frisch (3rd-leading receiver in NEFC, but only 2 catches for 17 yards Saturday), Weiss fired an errant pass into the arms of cornerback Loreto, ending any hopes of a WSC comeback.
The interception capped a solid day for Loreto, who also registered a caused fumble, a pass breakup, and three tackles to go with the monster kick return. Equally impressive individual defensive performances were turned in by linebackers James Jorgensen ’01 (9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 caused fumble) and Sean Brennan ’00 (11 tackles) and cornerback Angus Huang ’00 (8 tackles, 1 pass breakup). Worcester State safety Mike Paladino led his team with 16 tackles and 1 pass breakup, a performance that earned him a spot on the NEFC Weekly Defensive Honor Roll.
With the win MIT evened its all-time record against WSC to 1-1 and avenged last year’s 49-21 home defeat.
Beavers seek revenge against WNEC
Tomorrow marks the final home game for the seniors, and Western New England College comes into Cambridge for a 12 noon contest. The Golden Bears carry into town a 3-5 record, including a 2-4 mark in their 1999 NEFC campaign. History tells that the Beavers seem to have WNEC’s number: MIT is 7-3 all-time against WNEC. Western New England, however, has taken two straight in the series, including last year’s high-scoring decision (41-28 at WNEC).
On offense, the Golden Bears have a bruising running back of their own in sophomore Marvin Langley, who also serves on the WNEC kick return teams. Currently Langley is 3rd in the NEFC in all-purpose yards (747 rush, 42 receiving, 478 return, 158.4-yard avg). As the feature weapon, Langley is complemented by solid wide receivers in Jim McDonough and Jody Lemoi. Quarterback Steve Conuel is slightly below average but is capable of making the big play.
Defensively, WNEC has struggled in ’99. The Golden Bears are 3rd from the bottom of the NEFC in total defense, yielding an average of 335.9 yards per game. Nevertheless, the WNEC defensive unit performed admirably in last week’s 20-14 win over Framingham State. Senior linebacker Jason Sellazo, whose 10-tackle, 2-sack performance against FSU earned him a spot on this week’s NEFC Weekly Defensive Honor Roll, has emerged as a Golden Bear leader. In addition, WNEC defensive back Brian Luce is a stellar athlete and solid playmaker (3rd in NEFC in interceptions).
The confines of Steinbrenner Stadium have not been so friendly as of late: MIT is 4-9 at home over the past three seasons. The Beavers are rolling, though, and tomorrow will give them the opportunity to show their home fans how far they have come over the course of the year. Another strong performance by the MIT option attack, along with another defensive display full of swagger, will carry the Beavers above .500 and into the top half of the conference.
Beaver Injury Report: OLB John R. Boyer ’01, right shoulder dislocation, out for season; WR Charles A. Toye ’00, torn ACL/PCL in right knee, out for season; DB Geno L. White ’01, fractured right ankle, out for season; OL Alexander W. DeNeui ’03, sprained MCL in right knee, doubtful; RB Enrique Villavicencio ’00, strained left hamstring, questionable.