Fourth Quarter Comeback Lifts MIT Past UMass Dartmouth, 28-27

Freshman Karson Ota
Freshman Karson Ota

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Trailing by 13 points at halftime, MIT scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter while its defense held UMass Dartmouth off the scoreboard as the Engineers rallied to take a 28-27 New England Football Conference victory over the Corsairs. Freshman Samuel Inman (Stillwell, Okla.) caught a 21-yard TD pass from sophomore Peter Williams (Portland, Ore.) with 2:32 left to give MIT the win.

After a first half that saw UMass Dartmouth (1-4, 1-1 NEFC Boyd) take a 27-14 lead and the two teams combine for 365 yards of offense, the defenses took over in the third quarter. MIT (2-2, 1-1 NEFC Boyd) held the Corsairs to just 71 yards and forced a pair of punts. It was a similar story on the other side of the ball, where the Engineers managed just 87 yards and turned the ball over on a fumble on its only drive into Corsair territory.

MIT began its comeback on its first possession of the fourth quarter. Starting at its own 26 after a UMass Dartmouth punt, the Engineers drove to the MIT 41 in three plays. From there Williams found freshman Karson Ota (Katy, Texas) open for a 45-yard gain down to the UMD 14. Facing a fourth-and-four at the UMD eight, MIT went for it and saw the decision pay off when Ota stayed with a ball that had been tipped by the Corsair defensive line and pulled it in for the score.

Despite being set back by a 15-yard penalty on the first play of its drive, UMass Dartmouth came back and drove to the MIT 47. A personal foul call on the Engineers took it down to the MIT 32 where the MIT defense came up with two big plays. Sophomore Anthony Souffrant (North Grafton, Mass.) stopped a Corsair pass play for a two-yard loss, then freshman Alex Noakes (Watkinsville, Ga.) sacked Liam Cosgrove for a 12-yard loss. On the next play Cosgrove could not handle a bad snap from center and Noakes recovered the ball at the UMD 39, retuning it two yards to set up the next MIT drive.

After getting one first down it looked as if the Engineer drive might falter. A penalty set MIT back five yards before Jordan McDonald and Joe Texeira dropped sophomore Justin Wallace (Palatine, Ill.) for a loss. Facing a fourth down again, MIT went for it one more time and Williams found Inman open on the sideline. After gaining the first down Inman kept going, diving into the end zone for what proved to be the winning score.

UMass Dartmouth got the ball into MIT territory at the 43 on its try at the winning drive, but junior Matt Merlino (Vancouver, Wash.) intercepted a Cosgrave pass attempt and returned it 21 yards to seal the victory.

UMass Dartmouth wasted little time at the start of the game in getting on the scoreboard, as starting quarterback Patrick Orlando ran for 34 yards and tossed a three-yard scoring toss to Brendan McNeish less than three minutes into the game.

It remained a seven-point game into the second quarter when Orlando sparked another scoring drive. Crossing into MIT territory, Orlando ran for seven and then 13 yards as the Corsairs made it to the MIT 20. On his last carry Orlando was knocked out of the game, however, bringing Cosgrove into the contest. Brinston Facey finished off the drive with a three-yard run that put UMass Dartmouth up 14-0.

After UMD added a field goal to make it 17-0, MIT finally got on the scoreboard with a two-yard rush by Williams on a drive that was kept alive when the Corsairs were called for roughing the kicker on an MIT punt attempt.

UMass Dartmouth got the points right back, however, as Abiol Abonshade returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a score to put the Corsairs up 24-7. MIT answered on its next drive by going 69 yards in six plays, with Ota coming up with his first TD grab of the day on a 20-yard pass from Williams with 3:30 left in the half.

Trickery put UMass Dartmouth back in business on the next drive, as the Corsairs had McNeish take a pitch on an end around and then throw to William Cotter for a 35-yard gain. The MIT defense held, as junior Heath Gould (Las Vegas, Nev.) stopped Kiki Louis on the one-yard line after he had pulled in a Cosgrove pass. The Corsairs settled for an Edgar Osols field goal with 10 seconds left that made it 27-14.

Williams led an MIT offense that outgained UMass Dartmouth, 357-299, completing 18-of-30 for 208 yards and three scores. Coming in for the injured Orlando, Cosgrove hit on 19 of 27 attempts for 122 yards for the Corsairs. Orlando ended up leading UMD with 70 yards of rushing as the Engineers held the Corsairs to a total of 108 yards on the ground. Wallace led MIT with 64 yards on the ground. Ota had his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game, setting career marks with nine catches for 130 yards and two scores. McNeish led all receivers with 10 catches for UMass Dartmouth, totaling 72 yards and one score.

MIT will stay at home next week as the Engineers host Plymouth State at 1:00 p.m. on October 6 in Steinbrenner Stadium. UMass Dartmouth will also be at home next Saturday, hosting Salve Regina at Noon.