MIT Upends Football in Season Finale

2022 WPI Football Senior Day

WORCESTER -- MIT jumped out to a 14-0 lead and held on for a 21-14 victory, as the WPI football team dropped its season finale at home on Saturday. The loss ends the Worcester Engineers' season at 4-6 overall, 2-4 in NEWMAC play, while the Engineers of Cambridge improve to 3-6 overall, 1-5 in conference action. 

MIT's Chase Harmon (West Linn, OR) finished 17-for-26 with 179 yards and a touchdown. Dennis Gastel (Lincoln, RI) was targeted six times for 42 yards and a score, while Colin Vollmer (Cleveland, OH) caught three passes for 57 yards. Jay Theriault (Boxford, MA) ran the ball 21 times for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner. 

Defensively for MIT, Paul Calvetti (Ridgewood, NJ) tacked on seven tackles, one for loss, while Sam Gozelski (East Northport, NY) notched six tackles, including a sack. 

For WPI, Brendan Olexa (Hatboro, PA), Dante Coccagnia (East Syracuse, NY) and Stephen MacDonald (Georgetown, MA) split time at QB, with Olexa going 9-for-15 with 96 yards and a touchdown in his season debut while Coccagnia posted an 8-for-9 effort with 65 yards and a score. Hunter Carey (South Hadley, MA) carried the ball 16 times for 79 yards, while Bryce Curtin (Bristol, CT) and Isaac Frederique (Methuen, MA) each caught TD passes. Curtin finished with four catches for 63 yards and Frederique added six for 39 yards. 

Zachary Carney (North Easton, MA) headed the defensive unit with 10 tackles, all solo, including two for loss. Evan Wertz (Franklin, MA) and Harrison Kyriacou (Plainview, NY) each had seven tackles, with Kyriacou picking up three for loss. Zach Newberg (Barrington, RI) rounded out the defensive highlights with five tackles and three sacks. 

MIT scored touchdowns in the first and second quarters, opening a 14-0 advantage over WPI. After punting on their opening drive, the hosts' Brady Sullivan (Littleton, CO) forced a fumble on WPI's first play from scrimmage, which was recovered by Lucky Deignan (Indianapolis, IN). Six plays later, Theriault pounded it in from the one yard-line to make it a 7-0 game. 

After trading punts, MIT missed a field goal, but WPI couldn't capitalize on the ensuing possession. The Engineers' 70-yard drive from the MIT 20 ended with a punt. 

Now into the second quarter, MIT tacked on seven more on its next possession, going 70-yards downfield for a 14-0 advantage. Facing third and 14, a 41-yard pass from Harmon to Vollmer continued the drive, culminating in a five-yard touchdown from Harmon to Gastel. 

WPI needed just four plays and 52 seconds to get on the board on their next drive. Carey gained a pair of first downs on the ground before Olexa threw a 22-yard completion to Noah Herzig (Hubbardston, MA) setting up 1st and 10 at the 28. Olexa then found Curtin with a 28-yard strike and a score, cutting the lead to 14-7. 

After a scoreless third quarter, MIT pushed its lead to 21-7. Another WPI turnover, this one a fumble recovered by Paul Gregory (Guilford, CT) set up MIT at the WPI 20. Three rush plays later, Theriault scored from two yards out, making it a two-possession game with 4:16 to play. 

WPI put together an 11-play 75-yard drive on the ensuing possession, with Coccagnia completing eight-straight passes. His final pass was a six yard strike to Frederique that cut the MIT lead to 21-14 with 1:02 to play. 

An on-side kick attempt from WPI was recovered by MIT however, as the hosts ran out the clock to preserve the victory. The win was the first for MIT in Worcester since a 16-4 victory in 1897. The all-time series between the Engineers now evens to 9-9-1 overall.