PLYMOUTH, N.H. – For a second straight week MIT came up just short on the road in a New England Football Conference contest as Plymouth State University held off the Engineers by a final of 30-27. The Panthers took advantage of a pair of turnovers in the first half, turning each into touchdowns that proved to be the difference in the game.
Trailing 30-20 with just 3:04 left, MIT (1-4, 0-3 NEFC) put together a quick drive that resulted in a score to make it a three-point game. Starting at its own 15, the Engineers picked up a key first down on a fourth and one when freshman Justin Wallace (Palatine, Ill.) ran for six yards and the first down. Freshman quarterback Peter Williams (Portland, Ore.) then took over the drive, picking up first downs with a 10-yard rush and hitting senior Justin Kresz (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) for 29 yards down to the PSU nine-yard line. Two plays later Williams took it the final nine yards himself, making it 30-27 with 59 seconds left. MIT then went for the onside kick, but Plymouth State (4-2, 2-1 NEFC) recovered the ball and was able to run out the clock and hang on for the win.
MIT opened the contest with the ball, but on its third play from scrimmage sophomore quarterback John Wenzel (Mandeville, La.) was intercepted by Ray Boulay, who returned it 20 yards to the MIT 27. Plymouth State turned the good field position into points, when Joey Avila hit James Liddel from seven yards out to put the first points of the day on the board.
The Panthers' score started a sequence the saw the teams trade touchdowns on four consecutive possessions. MIT answered the first Plymouth State score with a 15-play, 73-yard drive that consumed 7:20 and was finished with a Wenzel to Kresz four-yard scoring pass that tied the game with 1:07 left in the first quarter. The Panthers came back with another seven-yard TD pass from Avila, this time to Andrew Foglia with 8:05 left in the half. MIT responded again on the next drive. After picking up a first down on a fourth and two deep in Panther territory on a Wenzel to Kresz nine-yard pass, Wenzel capped off the drive when he scampered in from 15-yards out, tying the score at 14-all with 5:05 left in the half.
Pinned at its own four after holding Plymouth State on its next possession, MIT made it out to the 15 before Wenzel was picked off again, putting the Panthers in great field position at the MIT 21. Six plays later PSU was in the end zone on a Dustin Matthews one-yard run, making it 20-14 after missing the extra point.
Plymouth State pushed its advantage to 27-14, getting the only score of the third quarter with 3:58 left on a three-yard run by Matthews. MIT put itself in good field position early in the fourth quarter after a nine-yard punt return by freshman Brad Goldsberry (Elizabeth, Colo.) put the Engineers at midfield. Wallace, who finished with 106 yards for the day, picked up 22 on a drive that saw MIT pull to within seven after Wenzel scored on a two-yard keeper at the 9:22 mark of the fourth.
Most of the offense in the game came on the ground where Plymouth State held a slight 176-171 advantage over MIT. Foglia led all rushers for the Panthers with his 118 yards. MIT, which added 85 yards through the air, outgained Plymouth State by a 256-208 margin. Defensively MIT was led by sophomore Jake Laux (Dousman, Wis.) who finished with 10 tackles while Peter LeBreck also finished with 10, including a pair of sacks, for Plymouth State.
After two playing four of its first five games on the road, MIT will return home next week and host Western New England University at 2:00 p.m. Plymouth State will travel to Endicott College for a 1:00 p.m. matchup.