Win Streak Continues vs. WNEC
A Win Tomorrow Would Garner Football Best Record since 1980By Alvan Eric P. Loreto
Playing in the final home game of their careers, the seniors of the MIT football team threw a grand farewell party, and even lady luck stopped by Steinbrenner Field for a dance or two with the Beaver.
Aided by several opportune bounces of the ball, MIT scored 20 unanswered points after halftime to turn a tight 4-point lead into an eventual 34-9 thrashing of Western New England College. A blocked punt for a touchdown, two accidental onside kick recoveries, an 18-yard reverse off a fake punt, and several dropped balls by WNEC receivers in clutch situations all testified to the Beavers’ good fortune. However, it was a familiar recipe -- a crushing running attack combined with resilient defense -- that did the most in carrying a resurgent MIT squad to its third straight victory.
After suffering embarrassing losses to WNEC in the past two seasons, the Beavers (5-4, 4-3 NEFC) turned the tables on the struggling Golden Bears (3-6, 2-5 NEFC) behind all-star caliber play from their two senior defensive ends. Nikolas O. Kozy ’00 played with his usual flair, registering 6 tackles and returning a blocked punt 17 yards for the first touchdown of his illustrious four-year career. Kozy’s performance, however, was bettered by his counterpart Philip J. Colomy ’00. Colomy terrorized the WNEC offense, finishing with 11 tackles, 1 pass knockdown, and 2 quarterback pressures. His outstanding performance placed him on the NEFC Weekly Defensive Honor Roll.
Yet despite monster efforts by Kozy and Colomy, WNEC still managed to move the ball effectively behind hard-nosed sophomore running back Marvin Langley. Langley used his cutback ability to weave and slash his way to 122 yards on 32 carries and earned a spot on the NEFC Weekly Offensive Honor Roll. Yet every time Langley managed to draw his team close to the end zone, the Beaver defense buckled down and held firm. The only Golden Bear touchdown, a 4-yard plunge by Langley, was scored in the fourth quarter with the game already out of reach.
Defense fares well under pressure
MIT’s tough-as-nails defense in the red zone stemmed from excellent fundamental play by nose tackle Eugene F. Mehr ’01. With his 290-pound frame, Mehr plugged the inside running lanes nicely, finishing with six tackles and a tackle-for-loss. In addition, the ability of Mehr to draw double- and triple-teams paved the way for big afternoons by MIT linebackers Daniel J. Bush ’01, (10 tackles), Brian L. Licata ’01 (10 tackles), and James C. Jorgensen ’01 (7 tackles).
The Beaver offense registered a fine showing as well, collectively rushing for 224 yards on 38 carries (5.8-yard avg). Quarterback David R. Skordal ’02 spent his second week in a row on the NEFC Offensive Honor Roll after rushing for 76 yards and three touchdowns on 8 carries (9.5-yard avg), including a 44-yard TD on the very first play from scrimmage. Were it not for several well-thrown passes dropped by his receiving corps, Skordal’s performance would have made him a frontrunner for player of the week.
Joining the sophomore quarterback in the spotlight was tailback Maik Flanagin G, who made his home finale a memorable one. Ushered into full-time duty after the hamstring injury of star Enrique J. Villavicencio ’00 in Week 7, Flanagin garnered 89 yards on 16 carries (5.6-yard avg). His unique running style wreaked havoc on the overmatched Golden Bear defense and bumped his season rushing total to a team-high 535 yards.
MIT recovers two onside kicks
After Skordal’s opening-play shocker, WNEC answered with a Jim McDonough 28-yard field goal following a Beaver fumble in the second quarter. Before the end of the first half, Langley’s efforts moved the Golden Bears down to the Beaver 5-yard line, but a touchdown-saving interception by Angus Huang ’00 preserved MIT’s 7-3 lead going into the half.
Kozy’s touchdown return came early in the third quarter, but the extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving the score at 13-3. After stopping the Golden Bears on their next possession, MIT put together a precision 8-play, 40-yard drive culminating in Skordal’s second touchdown of the day, stretching his team’s lead to 17.
Following this big score, kicker Kevin Ferguson ’02, instructed to send the kickoff along the ground in order to avoid the swirling wind, booted the ball at the middle of the WNEC front line, where it caromed off an opposing player and landed in the arms of Ferguson himself. This stroke of luck started a quick-hitting 4-play, 54-yard drive ending with a 15-yard Skordal touchdown pass to tight end Keith V. Battocchi ’02.
Strangely, the events of the ensuing kickoff provided an almost exact replay of the one before it. Again Ferguson’s line-drive kick deflected off a WNEC front-line player into Beaver hands. Lightning striking twice in the same place proved to be the death knell for the Golden Bear hopes, as MIT would run the clock down to just under eight minutes before giving WNEC an opportunity at cracking the seemingly insurmountable lead.
Win would be icing on the cake
The 1999 season finale pits the Beavers against University of Massachusetts at Boston on the Beacons’ Dorchester home turf.
The Beacon football team enters their last game with an 0-9 record, part of an 18-game losing streak dating back to last year.
The UMass-Boston football program has fallen on hard times, as multiple consecutive losing years have hampered recruiting efforts. Last year, the Beacons dressed only 22 players, and although the numbers are up this year, they are still not enough to bring the school to a comparable competitive level with most of the other NEFC teams. Proof of this is in the numbers: UMB is averaging 6.2 points scored per game while giving up an average of 37.6 to its opponents.
Many of the Beacons play both offense and defense; what they lack in talent they make up for with grit, determination, and toughness. This year’s star is freshman quarterback/ running back Eddie Beauchamp, who directs a Beacon offense averaging 127.9 yards per game on the ground. Ninety to ninety-five percent of UMB’s offense comes from running the ball, and they use pass plays and trick plays in an effort to catch their opponents sleeping.
Senior captain Artie Barnes leads the overmatched Beacon defense. Barnes, a defensive end, leads the Beacons in nearly every defensive category for the second straight year. Hard-hitting junior Frank Campo, a linebacker, doubles at tailback, and speedy junior Andre Grant, a defensive back, doubles at wide receiver, demonstrating the athleticism on the defensive unit despite its undisciplined style of play.
With a win on Saturday, MIT will finish with its best record since 1980. The key is for the coaching staff and players not to lose their fire, remaining aggressive from the opening whistle and jumping out to an early lead. Barring a major upset, the MIT football squad will make winners out of the seniors in the final football game of their careers.
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, questionable; RB Enrique J. Villavicencio ’00, strained left hamstring, uncertain; James Jorgensen ’01, pinched nerve in left shoulder, probable.