Football Seniors Go Out WinnersBy Christopher P. Anderson
In the final home game of the season, MIT’s football team sent their seniors out with the perfect gift -- a win. The Beaver offense scored two quick touchdowns early, the defense stopped three critical second-half drives, and Brennan P. Sherry ’05 blocked the final extra point to secure a 14-13 win over the Nichols Bison.
Trailing 14-7, Nichols took possession on their own 14-yard line with 8:25 to play. Moving down the field, and aided by a third-down pass interference penalty, the Bison finally scored with 1:34 on the clock on a fourth-down fade pass to Daragh McCann. To preserve the 14-13 score, MIT had no choice but to block the extra point kick. The right side of the line collapsed under heavy pressure, and defensive end Brennan P. Sherry ’06 buried the ball as the sideline and crowd exploded.
MIT had to win it twice, though, as Nichols recovered a perfect onside kick and looked to drive for the win. But after a holding penalty moved the ball back to the Beaver 45-yard line, Nichols fired a pass that was tipped by Mark D. Boudreau ’05 and David W. Shearer ’04 before falling harmlessly to the grass, sealing MIT’s first win in five games and pushing their record to 3-4 (1-3 in New England Football Conference Boyd division).
Nichols drew first blood, returning an interception for a touchdown on MIT’s second offensive series, but the Beavers answered later with a nine-play drive that ended in the end zone. Twice in the drive, quarterback Adam C. Love ’07 went to Tom Kilpatrick ’05. The first time, the Bison were flagged for pass interference; the second time, Love completed the pass for 11 yards and a first down, then took a roughing the passer penalty that pushed the ball to the Nichols six-yard line.
On 3rd and goal, tailback David J. Ostlund ’04 gathered in a screen pass right off the blades of grass, sidestepped a defender and flew into the end zone. The extra point by R. Matt Ramirez ’06 was good, and the score tied 7-7.
Flummoxed by the MIT defense, led by Spencer M. Cross ’05, Philip T. Zakielarz ’05, and senior Michael J. Harvey (12 tackles apiece), the Bison attempted a fake punt on the next series. The punter took the snap and fired a pass to the sideline, but David A. Blau ’06 broke the play up, giving the Beavers possession.
Beavers take control
MIT immediately capitalized. Kilpatrick beat his defender down the left sideline and caught a perfect pass from Love, streaking 50 yards for the score. After the kick the Beavers held a 14-7 lead they would never relinquish. Love finished with 13 completions in 25 attempts for 195 yards. Kilpatrick was again his favorite target, catching seven passes for 136 yards. The offensive surge was also felt in the running game -- Ostlund and fullback Ryan J. Lanphere ’06 combined for 94 yards on 24 carries.
MIT’s defense went to work in the third quarter, denying the Bison on two scoring chances. Nichols looked like they were back in the game, driving to the Beaver 25-yard line. But defensive captain Daniel Relihan ’04 hit the quarterback on his blind side, forcing a fumble that was comically bobbled by two Nichols linemen before Relihan fell on it, extinguishing the scoring threat. On their next possession, the Bison moved to first-and-goal on the seven, but were denied the end zone and missed a field goal.
Fittingly, the day did belong to seniors -- Relihan, Harvey, Shearer and Tanis L. Fidelholtz ’04 corralled a hard-hitting defensive effort that saw three Nichols tailbacks leave the game with injury. Also seeing their last game in the red jersey were offensive linemen Justin M. Nelson and captain Keith G. Reed, linebacker Michael A. Terry, and defensive linemen Christopher P. Anderson and Mark A. Jury.
MIT finishes the season with two more games on the road. Tomorrow the Beavers travel to Newport, Rhode Island to face the Salve Regina Seahawks (1-6). Last year MIT denied Salve’s bid for a conference championship with a 16-8 win, the program’s first ever win over the Seahawks.