Nichols Edges Engineers, 17-14
DUDLEY, Mass. – The Nichols College Bison defeated visiting MIT, 17-14, Saturday afternoon in an NEFC Boyd Division game at Michael J. Vendetti Field. With the win, the Bison earned their first victory of the season and snap a 10-game skid. Nichols was led by 121 yards on 22 carries from Matthew Bryson and two rushing touchdowns from Irie Perry. John Wenzel powered the Engineers (1-7, 0-6 NEFC) by completing 19 of 28 passes for 246 yards for the team's best passing performance of the season.
As a team, the Bison (1-8, 1-5 NEFC Boyd) finished with a season high in total offense with 343 yards, with a season-best 261 coming on the ground.
The scoring began with 4:27 remaining in the first quarter. On MIT's second drive of the game, Wenzel went 4-of-4 for 35 yards, leading the Engineers all the way to the one yard line. Marcel Sanchez would cap off the drive with a one yard touchdown run. The Engineers took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter.
MIT looked to extend its lead on the first play of the second quarter when Wenzel found Mike Fitzgerald for a deep completion. After taking a few steps with the ball, Fitzgerald fumbled and Nichols' Christopher Kerrigan came up with it. Kerrigan led Nichols with 11 total tackles on the day.
The Bison's next drive started off promising when Justin Nelson connected with Antonio Thurston for a 36 yard gain, but MIT's defense pushed Nichols back three yards on the next four plays, forcing a turnover on downs.
Perry completed an impressive 98-yard, 13 play drive that lasted 6:43 as a three-yard rush to get the Bison on the board in the second quarter. Bill Crory put the extra point through the uprights, and the score was tied, 7-7 heading into halftime.
The story of the first two quarters was defense. MIT's Jake Laux had 13 tackles in the first half finishing with a game-high 20, and Nichols' Patrick Gregory led the team with six tackles in the first half and had a total of eight in the game.
Nichols' first drive of the third quarter looked very similar to its last drive of the first half. Perry's 13-yard run and second touchdown of the day ended an 11 play, 76-yard drive that spanned 5:36.
The ensuing MIT possession came to an abrupt halt. MIT was threatening to score, having moved the ball to the Nichols 12-yard line. Gregory continued to have a solid defensive performance when he picked off his second pass in as many games and returned it to the Nichols 28.
Nichols could not capitalize on the turnover, but the next MIT drive ended with a Nichols interception as well. This is time it was Mike Rubalcaba intercepting the Wenzel pass and returning it to the MIT 24 yard line, setting up a Cody Jankins 24-yard field goal to give Nichols a two-possession lead at 17-7.
MIT kept things interesting as a four-yard touchdown pass from Wenzel to Fitzgerald got the Engineers within three points at 17-14 with 4:10 remaining.
After a Nichols fake field goal attempt went awry with 54 seconds left in the game, the Engineers got the ball back at their own 19 yard line with a chance to tie the game or take the lead. The Cardinal and Gray marched 62 yards on eight plays, but they came up short on time.
Sanchez led MIT on the ground with 56 yards on 21 carries and tacked on a touchdown. Ben Hessels was the squad's top receiver with three catches for 89 yards. Fitzgerald finished with 84 yards on eight receptions, including a touchdown, while Kyle Johnson racked up 71 yards on seven receptions. Kristopher Weaver bolstered the defense with 14 tackles as Patrick Jupe added 11 of his own. Brian Doyle picked off a pass which he returned 20 yards while Rhys Borchert had a fumble recovery.
With the win Nichols continues a five-game home winning streak against MIT. The Bison will travel to Salve Regina University on Saturday, Nov. 6 for the season finale starting at noon, while the Engineers will be heading to Endicott College for a 5 p.m. start.
Courtesy of Nichols College Sports Information