CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In front of an enthusiastic home crowd on Senior Night, the MIT football team completed its historic regular season with a 24-13 victory over the U.S. Coast Guard Academy this evening in a New England Football Conference (NEFC) contest. The win gave the Engineers the first, nine-game, undefeated regular season in school history. MIT scored all 24 points in the first half, including a pair of touchdown passes from senior Peter Williams (Portland, Ore.) to junior Nathan Varady (Fayetteville, Ark.).
MIT (9-0, 7-0 NEFC) took the opening kickoff and drove down the field, getting a first and goal on the Coast Guard 10-yard line. But a pair of incomplete passes stalled the drive and the Engineers settled for a 24-yard field goal from sophomore Tucker Cheyne (Avon, Conn.).
That proved to be all the scoring in the first quarter. MIT's defense held Coast Guard (3-7, 2-5 NEFC) in check the entire first half, allowing the Bears just 25 yards of offense and just one first down. After Coast Guard's second stalled drive of the game, junior Tyler Henning's (Cypress, Texas) punt pinned MIT back on its own six with less than five minutes left in the quarter. The Engineers picked up a first down in just two plays and marched steadily down the field, eventually scoring on a 13-yard Williams to Varady play at the 13:12 mark of the second quarter that completed a 17-play, 94-yard drive that consumed 6:46.
After holding Coast Guard on its next drive, MIT's offense went back to work from inside its own 10 again. The result was the same as senior Justin Wallace (Palatine, Ill.) started the drive with a 13-yard. Williams completed a key 20-yard pass on a 3rd and 17 to junior Seve Esparrago (St. Louis, Mo.) to keep the drive alive and then capped it off with a 10-yard toss to Varady to make it 17-0.
MIT's defense then struck on the third play of the next Coast Guard drive when senior Cameron Wagar (West Richland, Wash.) intercepted a pass from sophomore Derek Victory (Weston, Fla.) and returned it 36 yards for a score to put the Engineers up 24-0 with 3:15 left in the half.
Coast Guard came to life in the second half, with Victory completing 14-of-23 attempts in the third quarter for 129 yards and one score. The Bears' defense also stepped up, holding MIT to just 31 yards in the third. Midway through the quarter Victory found sophomore Bryan Popp (Flour Mound, Texas) from three yards out to cap a 10-play, 53-yard drive to put the first points of the evening on the board for the Bears.
Victory hit senior Collis Brown (Weston, Fla.) on a key 39-yard pass play late in the third that keyed another Coast Guard scoring drive. This one took just 1:25 and nine seconds into the fourth quarter Victory hit senior Gordy Holloway (Plymouth, Ind.) from 12-yards out to make it 24-13.
MIT drove deep into Coast Guard territory midway through the quarter to try and seal the win, but Williams was picked off by junior Mark Behne (Clifton, Va.) to stymie the attempt. MIT drove into scoring position again, but this time was thwarted when Cheyne's 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked with four minutes left.
Coast Guard picked up a first down on its own 44 on the ensuing drive, but three plays later sophomore Anthony Emberley (Longmont, Colo.) intercepted Victory at midfield and the Engineers were able to run out the clock and take home the victory.
Wallace finished with 135 yards to lead the MIT ground game, while Williams completed 19-of-35 attempts for 241 yards and the two scores. Esparrago led the receivers with 144 yards on nine catches for MIT, which outgained Coast Guard, by a 451-245 margin. Victory completed 21-of-44 for 173 yards and two scores, with Popp grabbing five passes and Brown four more for 66 yards.
Senior Victor Rizzardi (Ashburn, Va.) led all players with 12 tackles for Coast Guard. Wagar led MIT with eight stops and the interception while breaking up another pass attempt.
MIT, which has also earned its first-ever bid to the NCAA Division III Football Championship as NEFC champion, will learn where it falls in the playoff bracket tomorrow when the team gathers in Rockwell Cage on the MIT campus to watch the NCAA selection show at 6 p.m.