Football Dealt First Loss of 2019 in Double Overtime Thriller at MIT

Sullivan Boyd, Football

Cambridge, MA --- Mark Wright (Fort Worth, TX) drilled a 41-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime and Keithen Shepard (Vancouver, WA) pulled down a 23-yard TD pass in the back of the end zone in the second extra session to lift MIT to a thrilling 28-22 home win over previously-undefeated WPI on Saturday afternoon.

The win is MIT's first over WPI since 1900 as the Cambridge Engineers now trail the all-time series by a 9-7-1 margin. The victory also creates a three-way tie for first place with two games remaining between the two teams and Springfield. 

The result denied WPI (7-1, 4-1 NEWMAC) the chance to match the undefeated 1983 team as the only one in the 130-year history of the program to start a season 8-0. 

WPI got on the board with 5:08 left in the first as Bryce Wade (Modesto, CA) drilled a 35-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead. The Worcester Engineers increased the lead to 9-0 early in the second as Clark Ewen (Arlington, MA) hauled in a 77-yard pass from Julian Nyland (Melrose, MA). WPI picked up a first down on a third and 12 play, followed by Ewen outrunning two defenders for the score.  On the extra point attempt, MIT senior Steven Salvas (Indianapolis, ID) came up with the block and senior Sean Kent (Bend, OR) returned the ball for two points and the 9-2 score. 

MIT tied things up with 4:29 left in the second quarter as senior Chris Mauck (Wellington, FL) found sophomore Dennis Gastel (Lincoln, RI) in the corner of the end zone for a 21-yard TD on a fourth-and-3 play. MIT had moved into WPI territory thanks to Mason DuMez (Lake Geneva, WI) reception at the 29-yard line. 

MIT took its first lead of the game with 5:58 left in the third as senior Cole Baker (Austin, TX) rumbled up the middle from four yards out for the TD and a 16-9 lead. The score was set up by a 34-yard reception from senior Eric Bradford (Dublin, OH) on the previous play. 

WPI answered just 54 seconds later as Sean McAllen (Woodland, CT) pulled in a short screen pass to the left and raced up the near sideline for the 75-yard touchdown and 16-16 score. 

The momentum continued for WPI as the Worcester Engineers took advantage of two 15-yard penalties by MIT and WPI had a first and goal situation. The MIT defense stood strong though, holding WPI to a field goal attempt. The first attempt was blocked, but was re-kicked due to a penalty. The ensuing Wade attempt then went wide right however, keeping the score knotted at 16-16. 

The score remained that way until the final minutes of the fourth before junior Mark Wright (Fort Worth, TX) blasted a season-long 43-yard field goal for the 19-16 edge. WPI again countered with a quick seven-play, 67-yard drive that was capped by one-yard TD run from Connor Field (Granby, CT). 

Mauck and the Engineers regained possession and went to work as the hosts quickly drove into WPI territory. On the final play of regulation, Wright converted another field goal as his kick from 41 yards out squeaked over the cross bar to send the game into overtime. 

In the first overtime, Wright's 28-yard field goal was blocked by Steve Mey (Watertown, MA), followed by an MIT interception from Tyler Ray (Suwanee, GA) that kept the game tied at 22-22. In the second OT, WPI turned the ball over on downs to set up the game-winning score. After two short gains, Mauck found a diving Shepard in the back of the end zone for the touchdown that capped a tremendous back-and-forth effort. 

The teams were nearly identical in yards of total offense as WPI held the 354-348 edge. Time of possession was slanted in favor of MIT though as the hosts held the 35:12-24:48 advantage and converted on 10 third-down opportunities. MIT also finished the game with a pair of blocked kicks and three interceptions. 

Mauck completed 25-of-45 pass attempts for a season-high 277 yards and two touchdowns, while Gastel had a game-high nine receptions for 74 yards. DuMez had the most yards for the game, ending with a 90-yard effort. 

For WPI, Nyland completed 18-of-28 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns as Nic Rossi (Howell, NJ) had five receptions for 84 yards. McAllen finished with four catches for 98 yards and Ewen had three receptions for 84 yards. 

Defensively, senior Sam Cantrell (Seattle, WA) and junior Ben Delhees (Moreland Hills, OH) each finished with 11 tackles, while Cantrell had two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Kent, the two-time NEWMAC Defensive Athlete of the Week, finished with two interceptions and two pass breakups. 

On the other side, Nick Ostrowski (Charlton, MA) posted 15 tackles, including seven stops and Mey registered 11 stops. 

WPI hosts Coast Guard next Saturday and will honor its 35 seniors.  In order to earn the NEWMAC's automatic bid to the NCAAs, the Crimson and Gray need to defeat the Bears and then beat Norwich on the road the following week and have MIT loss to either Norwich next week or at Springfield on November 16th.

Release Courtesy MIT Sports Information