MIT Drops Heartbreaker in Final Seconds at UMass Dartmouth, 31-29

Sophomore Ben Hessels
Sophomore Ben Hessels

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – In a strong bid for its first New England Football Conference victory this afternoon, MIT saw freshman Justin Wallace (Palatine, Ill.) score a touchdown with 1:23 left in the game and then got a two-point conversion from sophomore Ben Hessels (Laytonsville, Md.) that gave the Engineers their first lead of the day. But UMass Dartmouth came back and got a game-winning, 45-yard field goal from Edgar Osols with 23 seconds left that lifted the Corsairs to a dramatic 31-29 victory.

After a first half that saw the two teams combine for 49 points, the second half remained scoreless until the final minutes of the game. Leading 28-21, UMass Dartmouth (3-2, 2-0 NEFC) took over after a MIT punt at its own 13 with nearly 12 minutes left in the game. The Corsairs ran the ball on 14 consecutive plays, driving 65 yards and consuming over 10 minutes off the clock before MIT (1-3, 0-2 NEFC) halted the drive on its 22-yard line. Osols came on to make it a two-possession game with a 39-yard field goal attempt, but MIT sophomore Joel Santisteban (Lawrence, N.Y.) blocked the attempt, the second blocked field goal of the day for the Engineers, with the ball going out of the end zone for a touchback.

Trailing by seven, MIT found itself 80 yards away from the UMass Dartmouth end zone with 3:51 left to play. The Engineers responded and on the second play of the drive sophomore John Wenzel (Mandeville, La.) hit freshman Brad Goldsberry (Elizabeth, Colo.) for 38 yards to the Corsair 42. An offsides call on UMass Dartmouth two plays later gave MIT another first down and forced a UMD timeout. In two more plays Wenzel found Hessels for 25 yards, giving MIT a first and goal at the three and forcing another UMD timeout. Three plays later Wallace was in the end zone and the Engineers went for the win, with Hessels running it in for the two-point conversion that gave MIT a 29-28 lead.

Getting the ball back at its own 44 with 1:23 on the clock and no timeouts left, UMass Dartmouth's Brendan McNeish completed passes of 12, 10 and eight yards to three different receivers, with the Corsairs getting out of bounds after each catch to stop the clock. The final completion got the ball to the MIT 28 on a third and 12 play, setting up the game-winning field goal.

Three turnovers in the first half hurt MIT, as the Engineers gave up two fumbles and an interception. The first, a fumble by Wenzel, was recovered by the Corsairs on the MIT eight-yard line leading to a Patrick Orlando three-yard scoring run for the first points of the game.

Keyed by a 42-yard kickoff return by sophomore Rhys Borchert (Pocatello, Idaho), MIT tied it up on its next possession, going 43 yards in nine plays. Hessels finished off the drive by carrying it in from a yard out. On MITs next possession, the Corsairs defense came up with the big play when Jake Walsh picked off Wenzel at the MIT 35. He returned it 12 yards before getting the ball to John Cordasco, who took it the remaining 23 yards for the score.

In the first half of the second quarter the two teams combined for touchdowns on three consecutive drives. UMass Dartmouth put together scoring drives of 75 and 60 yards while MIT got a Wenzel to Hessels seven-yard TD pass in between the Corsairs' scores.

UMass Dartmouth recovered the second MIT fumble at the Engineer 40-yard line with 5:34 left in the half. The Engineers' defense halted the Corsairs at the seven, forcing a 24-yard field goal attempt. Sophomore Derek Vaughn (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) blocked the attempt and freshman Anthony Souffrant (North Grafton, Mass.) scooped it up and returned it to the UMD 41. Six plays later Wenzel took in to the end zone from 13 yards out with 29 seconds left in the first half to complete the 10-point swing and bring MIT back to within seven, 28-21, at the half.

MIT and UMass Dartmouth were virtually deadlocked in total yards, with the Engineers outgaining the Corsairs by a scant yard, 383-382. Wenzel had his second 200-yard passing game of the season, completing 15-of-24 for 217 yards and one score. He also rushed for another 69 yards and another TD, with Wallace leading the team with 84 yards on the ground on 21 attempts. Goldsberry caught eight passes for 113 yards to lead all receivers.

UMass Dartmouth ran for 293 yards, with Orlando leading all runners with 123 yards and one score.

MIT will play away from home for a second consecutive week in its next contest, traveling to Plymouth State University for a 1:00 p.m. game on October 8. UMass Dartmouth will also be on the road, taking on Salve Regina in a Noon matchup.