Beavers Outduel Lancers for Second Win: Team Upsets NEFC Frontrunner Again
By Alvie Loreto
With last week’s victory, their first of the season, seemingly leaving their heads in the clouds, the MIT football team played in a trance-like daze for the first half of Saturday’s game against Worcester State. By the final quarter, though, it was clear that the Beavers had become the dream catchers, and the Lancers found themselves trapped in a nightmare they couldn’t awake from.
MIT rallied from a 6-0 halftime deficit to post a 16-6 home victory over WSC, shattering the title hopes of an NEFC frontrunner for the second straight week. The Lancers (5-2) came into the contest not only as the top ranked team in the NEFC Bogan Division but also as the fifth-ranked team in the New England Division III standings, and deservedly so, according to the game statistics.
They amassed 385 total yards to 164 for the Beavers (2-5), held possession of the ball for 36:29 out of the 60-minute game, and garnered 25 first downs to MIT’s 9. However, they fell short on the scoreboard due to a resilient MIT defense, a patient MIT offense, and lopsided dominance by the MIT kicking game.
Lancers strike to end first half
The Beavers dodged an early bullet when WSC kicker Mike Gennetti missed a 41-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter. The failed kick ended a 12-play, 50-yard drive in which the Lancers established a balanced running attack that set the tone for the afternoon. Worcester backs Chris Parker (75 yards) and Keith Anderson (77 yards) would prove tough to bring down, but MIT always seemed to find out how when WSC edged closer to scoring. A Lancer turnover on downs at 2:57 in the first quarter was the first of four times the Beavers stalled the opponents’ drive in MIT territory.
The second quarter saw more scoreless action right up until the halftime whistle. The MIT offense received the ball with 4:22 remaining but could only whittle the clock down to 2:57 before punting. Using a no-huddle offense, the Lancers drove 56 yards in 9 plays to get to the MIT 10-yard line with 8 seconds left before half.
After a time out, Worcester freshman quarterback Cean Oksanish found receiver Todd Daskowski on a crossing route for the touchdown as time expired. Despite Gennetti’s missing of the extra point, the score gave the Lancers a huge momentum boost going into the second half.
Ferguson pulls Beavers ahead
Midway through the third quarter the Beavers finally rekindled the slow-burning style that brought them success against NEFC big guns Bridgewater and Nichols, and the result was a gritty scoring drive that erased the deficit.
The 13-play, 63-yard drive, which killed 6 minutes off the clock, was highlighted by a gutsy 18-yard pass completion from quarterback Philip M. Deutsch ’04 to wideout Gregory N. Nelson ’02. After catching the ball at the WSC 10-yard line, Nelson broke three tackles and made a spin move to elude another tackle before being brought down at the 1. On the next play fullback Kip M. Johann-Berkel ’02 plunged into the end zone, and kicker Kevin M. Ferguson ’02 drilled the extra point to put MIT ahead.
Ferguson, however, saved his biggest contribution to the victory for the fourth quarter. With MIT facing 4th and 7 inside their own 30-yard line, the Langhorne, PA native kicked a booming 64-yard punt that was downed at the Worcester State 3-yard line.
The horrible field position disrupted the flow of the WSC offense, which could only muster 8 yards before being forced to punt. On the punt attempt, the ball was snapped over the head of Gennetti and out of the end zone, giving MIT a safety to widen their lead to 9-6.
Linebackers spur Tech to victory
Ferguson added two more stellar fourth-quarter punts to keep WSC pinned deep in their own zone, and the Beaver offense capitalized on favorable field position to pull away for the win. Facing 4th and 5 at their own 25 with 6:45 to go in the game, the Lancers committed a crucial mistake by mustering just a 5-yard punt.
On the very next play Deutsch found tight end Daniel Relihan ’04 in the corner of the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown, which gave the Beavers a 10-point lead and some breathing room with the game winding down.
MIT would preserve the second half shutout, but not before surviving another long yet scoreless drive from the WSC offense. Oksanish led a 14-play, 65-yard drive down to the MIT 10, but a 4th-down wide receiver screen fell short for the Lancers. The Beaver defense, bruised but not broken, rushed off the field in exhausted joy, leaving the offense to run off the final 43 seconds of the game.
Amazingly, the Tech defense gave up only one score despite being on the field for 95 plays, due to spectacular playmaking by its four linebackers. The incredible individual statistics reflected the physical and mental toughness of the entire unit on the day. Left inside linebacker Brian L. Licata ’01 had 18 tackles and a fumble recovery, which earned him the NEFC Defensive Player of the Week selection.
In addition, right inside linebacker Brent M. Schreiber ’03 had 14 tackles, including 9 solo, and a forced fumble; right outside linebacker James C. Jorgensen ’01 had 15 tackles, including 2 quarterback sacks; and left outside linebacker Daniel J. Bush ’01 had 15 tackles.