BEVERLY, Mass. – A 15-yard TD pass from senior Peter Williams (Portland, Ore.) to junior Chris McPherson (Gaithersburg, Md.) with 7:53 left proved to be the winning score as MIT overcame a second half comeback by Endicott College to take a 34-29 win. The victory kept MIT's school record and season long win streak alive at seven game and was the Engineers' first-ever win over the Gulls in 12 tries.
With the Gulls threatening late, junior Alex Noakes (Watkinsville, Ga.) thwarted Endicott's final chance to come away with the win when he intercepted Drew Frenette with four and a half minutes remaining, returning it 19 yards to preserve the victory for MIT and move the Engineers into sole possession of first place in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) standings.
MIT (7-0, 5-0 NEFC) wasted no time in getting on the board at the start, marching 65 yards in 11 plays with the opening kickoff. Williams picked up a key first down on a fourth-and-one play, scampering 12 yards to the Endicott 33 to keep the drive alive. Five plays later senior Justin Wallace (Palatine, Ill.), who led all rushers in the game with 174 yards on 29 carries, scored from 13 yards out at the 9:38 mark.
After the MIT defense held Endicott (5-3, 4-1 NEFC) to just three yards on its first dive, Wallace and the Engineers were back in the end zone. On the fourth play of the next drive Wallace broke free from the Gulls defense, going for 63 yards and another score to put the Engineers up 14-0.
Endicott got on the board after a Kyle Regan punt pinned the Engineers on their own one-yard line. On third down senior Brad Goldsberry (Elizabeth, Colo.) was dropped in the end zone by John Fortes for a safety to put the Gulls on the board. After the free kick Endicott picked up good field position at the 50, but the Gulls were held to just two yards by an MIT defense that surrendered just 53 for the half.
After the teams traded three punts, MIT was back on the board for the final time in the half when Engineers put together a 72-yard drive. Williams completed four straight passes for 48 yards to get the ball deep into Endicott territory and Wallace finished it off, this time from eight yards out as the Engineers took a 21-2 lead into the half.
In the second half Endicott got back on track offensively when, on its second possession, the Gulls found the end zone for the first time in the contest when Frenette hit Nate Lewis for a 36-yard score with 9:38 on the clock. MIT immediately answered on the third play of its next drive when Williams, who finished with 246 yards on 19-of-29 passing, hit junior Seve Esparrago (St. Louis, Mo.) over the middle, with the receiver breaking a couple of tackles and then out racing the Gulls' defense to the end zone for a 61-yard scoring play.
Endicott took advantage of good field position on its next drive, starting from midfield and pulling back to within two scores when Lavante Wiggins scored from a yard out with six minutes left in the third. Other than Williams to Esparrago scoring play, the Gulls defense held MIT in check, forcing three consecutive three and outs to give their offense an opportunity to close the gap.
Despite an interception in the third quarter by senior Tye Ellis (Shady Side, Md.), Endicott cranked out two other scoring drives, getting another one-yard run by Wiggins early in the fourth and a 60-yard Frenette to Lewis scoring strike three minutes later that capped a quick, two-play drive, and put Endicott on top for the first time in the game, 29-28, after a missed two-point conversion.
MIT responded, however, and put together its best drive of the half, going 68 yards in 11 plays for the game-winning score. The Engineers overcame a holding penalty when Williams hit Esparrago for 21 yards on a third and 16. Later in the drive Goldsberry scampered for 13 and Wallace followed with a 14-yard effort that put the Engineers on the Endicott 15-yard line. Two plays latter Williams found McPherson alone in the back of the end zone for the score.
Esparrago led the MIT receivers with six catches for 130 yards, while Lewis finished with a game-high 187 yards on nine catches for Endicott. Frenette completed just 13 of 28 attempts, but had them go for 243 yards and a pair of scores along with the two interceptions. Senior Cameron Wagar (West Richland, Wash.) and freshman Mitch Turley (Westfield, Ind.) led MIT with 11 and 10 tackles, with each recording a sack. John Elnagger led all players for Endicott with 18 tackles, including half of a sack while also recovering a fumble.
MIT will be on the road next week, making the long trek to Maine Maritime for a Noon kickoff on Saturday, November 8. Endicott will also be on the road, playing at Western New England University at 1:00 p.m.