Late Surge Lifts MIT Past Nichols, 21-11

Freshman Adis Ojeda
Freshman Adis Ojeda

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A pair of fourth quarter touchdown runs by freshman Adis Ojeda (Springfield, Va.) was the difference tonight as MIT came from behind to score a 21-11 win over Nichols College in a New England Football Conference (NEFC) game. Ojeda finished with 166 yards on the ground while Nichols was led by senior Andre Rickerson (Boston, Mass.) who gained 97 yards.

Neither team could generate much offense until midway through the first quarter when MIT took over on its own 35. On the second play of the drive on a 2nd and 9, freshman Udgam Goyal (Frisco, Texas) hit senior Nathan Varady (Fayetteville, Ark.) for a 19-yard pass play and with a 15-yard penalty tacked on the Engineers were all the way to the Nichols 30. Ojeda eventually finished the drive with a nine-yard run with 3:07 on the clock for a 7-0 MIT lead.

Turnovers then played a big role, with four of the next eight combined drives ending in a miscue. MIT lost a fumble and an interception while Nichols had two passes picked off, both by senior Seve Esparrago (St. Louis, Mo.) who was playing defense for the first time in his career. The key interception came with just 23 seconds left in the half when Goyal was picked off by freshman Zach Fanshaw (Bronx, N.Y.), who returned it to the MIT one-yard line. On the next play junior Grant Klimek (Toms River, N.J.) took it in, and with a two-point conversion successful, the Bison were on top 8-7.

Nichols put together a nice drive on their second attempt in the third quarter, going all the way from their own 35 to the MIT five-yard line in 12 plays, with all of the yardage but eight coming on the ground.  Facing a fourth and two from the five, the Bison elected for the field goal and senior Connor Haynes (Sutton, Mass.) put it through for an 11-7 lead at the 4:28 mark.

MIT, which had the ball for only 4:28 in the third quarter, got the spark it was looking for early in the fourth quarter when Ojeda took a screen pass from senior Danny Callahan (Hinsdale, Ill.) on a 3rd and 9 play and eluded the Nichols defense for a 41-yard touchdown. The MIT defense then came up with another interception, this one by sophomore Rex Shepherd (Mandeville, La.) that gave the Engineers the ball on the Nichols 30. Ojeda accounted for all 30 yards on four carries, scoring from five yards out with 7:54 left.

From there the MIT defense again stopped Nichols, forcing a punt that gave the Engineers the ball back with 5:48 to play. MIT never gave it up again, as Ojeda accounted for 59 more yards as the Engineers ran out the clock to claim the victory.

Callahan came in after the first drive of the second half for MIT to complete 4-of-6 passes for 111 yards to lead the team in passing. For Nichols sophomore Michael McCourt (New Fairfield, Conn.) hit on 11 of 19 passes for 67 yards, but was intercepted three times. Freshman Brendan Massey (Attleboro, Mass.) led the Bison receivers with five catches for 35 yards. Varady led MIT with six receptions for 86 yards. As a team MIT outgained Nichols, 362-244. Ojeda's night gives him 1,157 yards on the season, making him the first freshman in the history of MIT football to go over 1,000 yards in a season.

Defensively junior Anthony Emberley (Longmont, Colo.) led all players with 14 tackles. Just behind him with 13, including three for a loss, was sophomore Brett McEvoy (Wrentham, Mass.) from Nichols.

MIT will conclude the 2015 season next week when it travels to Curry College for a 1:00 p.m. on Nov. 14. Nichols will be home next Saturday, hosting Maine Maritime at 12:00 p.m.