MIT Stuns Western New England, 31-27
Oct. 8, 2005
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT (2-3, 1-1) scored 28 unanswered points in the second half of Saturday's rain-soaked tilt as Tech's grid-iron unit rallied to defeat Western New England (1-4, 1-2), 31-27, in a pivotal Boyd Division match-up in the NEFC. The Golden Bears fumbled eight times in muddy, Steinbrenner Stadium, including a game-changing loss that David Blau turned into a 30-yard touchdown return midway through the third quarter.
Saturday's match-up developed into a tale of two-halves as Western New England raced out to a sizable lead early on. Jordan Capitanio completed an 11-play, 48-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run that gave the Golden Bears a 7-0 lead at 9:19 of the first quarter. Later in the opening frame, the first of WNEC's five lost fumbles led to the Engineers first points as Ryan Bruncswick forced a fumble on a punt. Despite the fact that MIT was unable to move the ball, starting from the four-yard line enabled Matt Ramirez to successfully convert a 22-yard field goal.
Jordan Capitanio proved difficult to stop all afternoon, but the rookie back enjoyed his most prolific stint during the second quarter. Capping a seven-play, 88-yard drive with his second touchdown score of the game, Capitanio extended the Golden Bears' advantage to 14-3 with 12:35 left in the half. On MIT's ensuing possession, Alex Barwikowski made a great read on a pass to the outside by Rick Mancuso and intercepted Tech's freshman quarterback. Making the pick in stride, Barwikowski raced 75 yards down the sidelines to push the lead to 21-3. Capitanio added some more insurance for the WNEC attack just before the break with a 41-yard scamper that gave the Golden Bears a 27-3 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the MIT offense was able to get on track, but turnovers would prove to be Western New England's ultimate undoing as the Cardinal and Gray took advantage of the rain-induced mistakes. MIT scored its first touchdown on the opening drive of the half, driving 65 yards on 10 plays. Freshman Kevin Vogelsang, who finished the game with nine catches for 150 yards, hauled in a 22-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone with just over 11 minutes remaining in the period. After catching a pass on a two-point conversion try, the Engineers pulled within 16 at 27-11.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Engineers caught an enormous break after David Blau recovered an on-side kick. Eight plays later, Mancuso celebrated his second touchdown pass of the quarter as MIT narrowed the deficit to 27-17. Tom Kilpatrick was the recipient of Mancuso's second strike as he out-leaped the secondary coverage for a 24-yard touchdown in the left corner of the end zone.
Playing with a renewed energy, the Engineers made another sensational play that forever changed the momentum of the game. As Jarod Johnson made his way up field after receiving the kickoff, defensive back David Kalk delivered a tough stick, sending the ball into the air. Blau grabbed the loose ball out of the air and sprinted 30 yards for the Engineers' third touchdown in as many chances.
At the end of the third stanza, another WNEC fumble gave MIT the ball at midfield. The Engineers continued to move the ball, although no play proved bigger than a pass interference call on third and 13 that instead gave MIT a first and goal from the six. Two plays later, Chris Ruggiero rushed one yard for the game-winning score.
Western New England had several chances to take back the game, but fumbled in its final two possessions, including the decisive turnover with 1:27 left in regulation. Most of Saturday's miscues occurred during the snap, where difficult field conditions made it challenging for both teams.
Despite the loss, Jordan Capitanio gave an all-star performance, rushing for 184 yards and three scores on 21 carries. Pat Murphy completed 13-of-25 passes for 146 yards; his primary target being Kevin Miculcy, who grabbed eight balls for 97 yards.
Rick Mancuso set an Institute record with 56 pass attempts and finished 24-of-56 for 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns to pace the MIT offense. Although Vogelsang was the top receiver, Kilpatrick also caught six passes for 78 yards.