CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MIT made a strong bid for the upset this afternoon in NEFC football action, matching Endicott point for point in the first half before the Gulls were able to pull away in the second half to score a 36-24 victory. Mike Lane ran for 125 yards and a score to lead Endicott (9-1, 6-1 NEFC), while sophomore John Wenzel (Mandeville, La.) threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns to lead MIT (2-7, 1-6 NEFC) in the final game of the 2011 season for the Engineers.
After holding MIT to a three and out on the first drive of the game, Endicott struck the first blow in the contest on its first possession thanks to MIT's first punt attempt going off the side of Wenzel's foot and into the back of the offensive line. As a result the Gulls took over at the MIT 35. Lane took care of all but five yards of the drive, breaking off a 14-yard run before eventually scoring on a four-yard effort for the early 7-0 lead.
MIT got on the board late in the first quarter on a 26-yard field goal by senior Peter Gilliland (Grand Ledge, Mich.), but Endicott matched it with a 27-yard boot by Dylan Rushe with 7:57 left in the second quarter to maintain the seven-point edge.
On MIT's next possession Wenzel's arm proved to be the difference as the Engineers struck for their first touchdown of the day to tie the game. Wenzel hit on passes of 12 yards to sophomore Ben Hessels (Laytonsville, Md.) and nine-yards to senior Justin Kresz (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) before he found freshman Brad Goldsberry (Elizabeth, Colo.) open down the middle for a 43-yard score.
Endicott took advantage of a 26-yard kick return and a personal foul on MIT in getting the ball back on the MIT 33 to start the next drive. Phil Konopka hit Taylor Allen for a key 16-yard gain, and later finished off the drive himself with a one-yard plunge to put the Gulls back on top. Wenzel had the answer again on the next drive, completing all four of his attempts for 45 yards, including a nine-yard toss to Goldsberry for the score that knotted the game back up at 17-17. The Engineers almost went ahead in the final seconds of the half when Gilliland intercepted a Konopka pass and returned it 53 yards to the Endicott 37. A pass attempt into the end zone as time ran out was incomplete, but a personal foul on the Gulls gave the Engineers one more chance. Gilliland's 39-yard field goal attempt for the lead was wide, however.
Endicott won the battle of field position in the third quarter, keeping MIT pinned deep in its territory and getting good field position on offense. The Gulls turned the advantage into a pair of Rushe field goals that gave them a 23-17 lead going into the final quarter.
Early in the fourth a short punt and a catching interference penalty gave Endicott the ball at the MIT 40. Two plays later Konopka found Allen open for the 40-yard score that put the Gulls up 30-17. MIT came back on its next possession and drove down to the Endicott 15, but Wenzel was intercepted by Mike Kearns, who returned it 36 yards to the Endicott 46. From there the Gulls put the game away, going 54 yards in nine plays, capping the drive with a 23-yard Konopka to Mike Murphy scoring play.
MIT came back on its next possession, taking advantage of a penalty on the kickoff to start its drive at the Endicott 46. The Engineers drove to the 12-yard line where they were aided by a pass interference call in the end zone that put the ball on the two. Two plays later Wallace was in for the score to make it 36-24. MIT went for the onside kick, but Endicott recovered and ran out the clock to end the game.
MIT outgained Endicott by a slim 375-367 margin in total yards. Wallace finished with 89 yards on the ground, while Goldsberry had an 11-catch, 104-yard receiving afternoon. Konopka finished by completing 16-of-27 for 211 yards and pair of scores, with Mike Fimiani catching six passes for 36 yards. On defense the Gulls were led by Kevin Eagan who had 15 tackles, including a sack. Freshman Cameron Wagar (West Richland, Wash.) led MIT with eight stops.