Record-Setting Performance Leads MIT Past Nichols, 34-21
Oct. 22, 2005
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Rookie quarterback Rick Mancuso threw for an Institute-record 387 yards and four touchdowns to ignite the MIT attack in a 34-21 victory over Nichols College at Steinbrenner Stadium, Saturday afternoon. Mancuso broke MIT single-game records for completions and attempts (25-of-43) and tied the school mark for touchdowns as the Engineers improved to 3-4 overall and leveled their Boyd divisional record at 2-2. With the loss, Nichols falls to 0-7 (0-5, Boyd).
MIT's first score of the day was set up by a superb defensive stand. The Bison marched 52 yards on their opening drive and had second-and-goal from the three. Josh Harris rushed to the one on the next play, but goal line stops by Dustin Bennett and Brennan Sherry prevented Nichols from taking the lead as MIT took over from its own one.
In its first offensive opportunity, MIT assembled one of the longest drives in Tech's grid history with a 12-play, 99-yard drive. Mancuso provided most of the damage with 94 yards through the air, including a 34-yard scoring toss to Marcus Carson that gave the Cardinal and Gray a six-point lead.
Nichols gained only one yard on its next series, but got the ball right back after MIT fumbled on the first play of its next series. The turnover proved costly as the Bison benefited from the short field and rushed four times for 20 yards to grab the lead. Quarterback Jon Snediker kept it for a one-yard touchdown run that capped the drive.
The MIT offense went right back to work on the ensuing possession and drove 65 yards on seven plays to re-take the lead. Mancuso completed a five-yard pass over the middle to tight end Chris Ruggiero for a five-yard score on the opening play of the second period as MIT moved in front, 13-7.
It didn't take long for Nichols to answer as the Bison ground game continued to find space to run. Judley Sason rushed six yards for the go-ahead score, but the drive was set up by Anthony Gaines, who returned the kick-off 27 yards to the MIT 48. Sason also had a key run of 13 yards on third down to keep the Nichols offense on the field.
Rick Mancuso stepped up again on MIT's next series as both defenses looked challenged to stop the offensive attack. Mancuso found four different receivers during the drive, which lasted eight plays and produced 45 yards. Picking up a blitz by the Bison defense on second-and-10, Mancuso completed a 15-yard strike to Ruggiero that resulted in his second touchdown catch of the day. With the kick, MIT pulled ahead 20-14 and secured a lead they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the way.
The Engineers extended their lead in the third frame with a balance of passing and rushing. Freshman Robert Utz rushed for 21 yards on three carries during the drive, while Muamba Muanankese added 10 yards on two touches. Ultimately, though, it was Mancuso who pushed Tech into the end zone with a 19-yard scoring strike to senior Tom Kilpatrick that tied the MIT single-game record for touchdown passes in a game.
MIT added to its advantage behind Mancuso's arm, which continued to perplex the Nichols secondary. On a drive that extended into the fourth quarter, Mancuso connected with five different receivers for 79 yards. The drive, which lasted 12 plays and covered 92 yards, was capped by Utz's one-yard score that pushed the lead to 34-14. Darren Zow made a remarkable catch on a 27-yard pass from Snediker that cut the lead to 34-21 with 10 minutes to play, but that was as close as Nichols would get as MIT grabbed its second win in two seasons over the visiting Bison.
Mancuso obliterated the single-game passing record of 291 yards set by Scott Blackburn in 1998. In addition, his remarkable effort on Saturday moved him into fifth all-time on the Institute's seasonal record for passing yards. Mancuso's top target was Marcus Carson, who collected a career-high 114 yards and a touchdown on five catches. Ruggiero and Kilpatrick each caught six balls, with Ruggiero securing two scores and 81 yards to Kilpatrick's one score and 75 yards. Kevin Vogelsang rounded out Tech's aerial circus with five receptions for 87 yards.
Josh Harris rushed 26 times for 114 yards to pace the Nichols offense, while Jon Snediker completed 8-of-20 for 108 yards from behind center. Bryan Muese led all defenders with 14 tackles in leading the Bison defense. MIT was led defensively by senior Brennan Sherry. Playing in his final home game along with Tech's other fourth-year players, Sherry had a team-best 10 tackles and a pass break-up.