Nov. 5, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, MA - Endicott College delivered a number of big plays en route to a 21-16 victory over MIT in the regular season-finale of the 2006 football campaign. The Engineers (2-7, 1-6 NEFC Boyd) had one of their best performances of the season, but despite a dominating effort, the Gulls (6-4, 5-2) avoided the upset with several game-breaking turnovers deep in Endicott territory.
MIT looked much sharper than its conference foe from the opening kickoff, hanging a 14-play, 64-yard drive against the league's third-ranked defense on its first possession. Although the drive didn't produce any points, a quick three-and-out forced by the Tech defense set up the first score. Beginning the drive at the MIT 44, sophomore Rick Mancuso completed a five-yard screen to T.C. Scotton before connecting with rookie Mike Fitzgerald on a 51-yard pitch and catch that gave the Engineers a 6-0 lead.
Endicott answered back during its next drive with a big passing play of its own. After two stops brought up third-and-seven from the Gulls' own 23, Tyler Connelly connected with Ryan MacLean for a 77-yard touchdown. Adam Maher's point after gave Endicott the lead, however the Engineers would hang tough all afternoon.
MIT got back to work midway through the second, assembling a 10-play, 69-yard drive that chewed up nearly six minutes. Mancuso completed four passes during the drive, while DeRon Brown kept the Gulls defense at bay with a few key runs. After a 13-yard catch by Fitzgerald, MIT faced first-and-goal from the one, but a fumble on a diving attempt into the endzone ended the scoring threat.
For the first time during the game, but not the last, Endicott capitalized on the goal-line stop. Backed up inside its one, Angelo Ortiz broke through the MIT defense and scampered 71 yards down the sideline. Two rushes by Connelly totaling 19 yards edged Endicott closer to the goal, while Mark Killinger punched it in from two yards out to give the Gulls a 14-6 advantage at the halftime break.
A quiet third quarter on Saturday led to an existing final 15 minutes. Although MIT's game-tying drive comprised of five plays, receptions of 33 and 25 yards by sophomore Kevin Vogelsang did all the damage. After finding Vogelsang for the 25-yard score, Mancuso kept the ball himself on the ensuing two-point conversion.
Tied at 14, the game took a decisive turn with just under nine minutes remaining in the game. After a good defensive stand forced a punt by MIT at its own 27, the Engineers mishandled the snap. The play resulted in a 17-yard loss and gave Endicott first-and-goal from the 10. Two plays later, Connelly hooked up with Andy Roy for a seven-yard touchdown.
MIT had an opportunity to tie the game behind its best drive of the tilt following the Endicott score. The Engineers marched 76 yards on 14 plays, mostly on the arm of Mancuso, who clearly posted his best numbers of the season. Vogelsang caught another 25-yard pass for the single-biggest play of the drive, while a nine-yard reception set up a fourth-and-one just outside the Endicott one-yard line. Utilizing play action, Mancuso attempted to connect with Vogelsang deep in the right corner, but the pass sailed just over Vogelsang's outstretched arms.
Endicott got the ball back with 1:10 on the clock, but MIT still had all of its timeouts. After three big defensive stops, the Engineers forced the Gulls to take a safety in an attempt to prevent a poor punt from giving the Cardinal and Gray good field position with 35 seconds still on the clock.
Fitzgerald returned the ensuing punt 31 yards to set the Engineers with a great opportunity to tie, but a throw to the endzone as time expired was picked off by Mike Baklik enabling Endicott to escape with the win.
MIT out-gained Endicott, 373-290, and had 23 first downs to the Gulls' seven. The Engineers also dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 36 minutes and forced Endicott into four fumbles. Mancuso finished 24-for-46 with 310 yards and two touchdowns. Vogelsang enjoyed the best game of his season with seven catches and 130 yards, while Fitzgerald had the best game of his young career with six grabs for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Connelly was 10-for-19 with two touchdowns and 181 yards in leading the Gulls to victory. MacLean supplied most of the aerial power, collecting 121 yards on three catches. Ortiz paced all running backs with 92 yards on 12 carries.