CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Freshman Justin Wallace (Palatine, Ill.) ran for a career-high 190 yards and three scores to lead MIT to a 23-0 win over Nichols College in a New England Football Conference game at Steinbrenner Stadium. Not the rain or the snow that was falling at various times during the game was going to keep the Engineers from their task for the night as they picked up their first win since the beginning of the season.
Poor weather conditions played a part in the first score of the night when freshman Anthony Souffrant (North Grafton, Mass.) blocked Tyler Nordbeck's first punt attempt of the night, with the Engineers recovering the ball a the Nichols 18-yard line. MIT could not pick up a first down, but senior Peter Gilliland (Grand Ledge, Mich.) booted a 26-yard field goal with 10:17 showing on the clock to put the Engineers up early.
MIT stopped Nichols (0-9, 0-6 NEFC) on its next drive and came up big again on special teams. This time it was freshman Erik Johnson (Grand Haven, Mich.) that got a hand on the Bisons punt, with his deflection resulting in just a 16-yard punt to the MIT 44. From there the Engineers picked up a 21-yard pass from sophomore John Wenzel (Mandeville, La.) to freshman Brad Goldsberry (Elizabeth, Colo.) and a 16-yard run from Wallace that push the ball deep into Nichols territory. With 6:29 left Wallace broke around the left side and found the end zone from 20 yards out to make it 10-0.
MIT's defense did the rest. The Engineers held Nichols to just 90 total yards and seven first downs in the game as they recorded their first shutout since blanking UMass-Dartmouth 26-0 in 2009. The Bison also had trouble hanging on to the slick ball in the wet conditions, fumbling eight times, losing three to the Engineers who also picked off four Nichols passes.
Nichols could only manage to cross the 50-yard line into the MIT end of the field three times during the game. The closest the Bison came to the getting into the red-zone was late in the first quarter when Alex DiNardo sacked Wenzel and forced a fumble that the Bison recovered on the MIT 41. Nichols got as far as the MIT 30, but sophomore Rhys Borchert (Pocatello, Idaho) intercepted Dan Snyder's pass attempt and returned it 27 yards to end the threat.
As the snow picked up in the second half MIT stayed with its ground attack, which paid off with a four-yard Wallace TD run in the final minute of the third and a nine-yard scamper with 1:30 left that put the final touches on the victory.
Wallace picked up his 190 yards on 41 carries, tying the Institute record for carries in a game set by DeRon Brown against Salve Regina in 2009. Wenzel completed 6-of-21 attempts in the tough conditions for 84 yards. The stingy MIT defense was led by sophomore Jake Laux (Dousman, Wis.) with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Irie Perry was the workhorse for Nichols, gaining 46 yards on 21 carries. The Bison played both Snyder and Jacob Shoup at quarterback, with the pair combining to complete just five of 20 attempts, with four of the attempts intercepted, for 30 yards.
MIT will play its final game of the season next Saturday, November 5 when it hosts Endicott College at 1:00 p.m. on Senior Day. Nichols will also close out its season next week as it hosts Salve Regina at Noon.