Blocked extra point in final minute ends Golden Bears’ winning streak
CAMBRIDGE – Senior running back Kevin Cook rushed for a game-high 154 yards and three touchdowns as Western New England University (WNE) was edged on the road by MIT 35-34 in a battle of undefeated New England Football Conference (NEFC) teams on Oct. 25.
The victory keeps MIT undefeated at 6-0 (4-0 NEFC) and snapped Western New England’s win streak at seven games dating to the 2013 regular-season finale, dropping the Golden Bears to 6-1 (3-1 NEFC). Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Golden Bears remain in the thick of the conference race with three games left against Curry (Nov. 1 in Milton), Endicott (Nov. 8 at home) and Nichols (Nov. 15 at home) colleges.
But it all came down to the final minute when sophomore Anthony Emberley blocked an extra point attempt with 42 seconds left to lift MIT to the thrilling one-point win. Cook had capped an eight-play, 57-yard drive in 2 minutes and 32 seconds of possession time with a 2-yard touchdown plunge to close most of a seven-point gap.
With the game tied at 28-28 going into the decisive fourth quarter, MIT started a drive at the start of the quarter from its own 28-yard line. The Engineers drove to the Western New England 30, but faced a fourth-and-3. Senior quarterback Peter Williams hit senior Brad Goldsberry on a 17-yard pass to keep the drive alive and senior Justin Wallace took it in from 13 yards out for the score on the next play to make it 35-28 with 8:15 to play. The drive consumed more than 20 minutes on 13 plays covering 72 yards.
MIT stopped Western New England on its next drive, but the Golden Bears’ defense forced a three and out to give them another shot at tying the game. Junior Tyler Ward (112 passing yards) and Cook took WNE down the field, with Ward passing for 25 yards and rushing for 22 while Cook ran for 10 more, including the final two into the end zone. But the Golden Bears could not get the tying point on the board as Emberley came in from the right side of the MIT line to block the PAT attempt.
MIT jumped out to a 21-0 lead to start the game. The Engineers opened the contest with a 13-play, 68-yard drive that was finished by a one-yard plunge by Williams six minutes in. Western New England fumbled on its first two possessions, escaping damage on the first when sophomore Tucker Cheyne just missed on a 32-yard field goal attempt. But the Engineers cashed in on the next one. The Golden Bears went for it on fourth-and-one from their own 39, but the snap from center was over the head of the quarterback and freshman Rob DiSanto fell on the loose ball on the 20. Four plays later, Wallace took in from two yards out to make it 14-0.
Early in the second MIT scored again when Williams hit sophomore Travis Herbanek from seven yards out to cap a 53-yard drive. Western New England finally put together a long drive late in the second quarter, getting runs of 17 and 20 yards from Cook, who took it in from two yards out at the 3:27 mark. MIT immediately answered when Goldsberry burst around the right side on the first play of MIT’s ensuing drive and out ran the WNE defense for a 66-yard score. With just three minutes left in the half, the Golden Bears came right back by getting runs of 14 and 13 yards from Ward that set up a nine-yard scoring run by sophomore Nick Connell that made it 28-14 at the half.
Midway through the third quarter, sophomore Terrence N`Dabian ignited the Western New England offense when he exploded down the right sideline for a 90-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive to continue the Golden Bears furious rally. Late in the quarter, junior Dean Soucie intercepted Williams and returned it 18 yards to the MIT 35. Four plays later on a fourth-and-2, Cook burst through the line for a 27-yard score to tie the game at 28-all and set up the dramatic fourth quarter.
Both teams went well over 400 yards in total offense, with MIT holding a 470-459 edge. Goldsberry led MIT in receiving and rushing, catching 10 passes for 95 yards while running for 137 yards on 14 carries. He also added 104 yards in returns to finish with 336 all-purpose yards, breaking his own school record. Williams completed 20-of-30 attempts for 177 yards and the one score and also rushed for 79 yards. Wallace finished with 78 yards and a pair of scores.
Ward ran for a career-best 89 yards and completed seven of 18 passes without throwing an interception for the fifth consecutive game. Freshman Mark Dietrich led the Golden Bears with three catches, good for 37 yards, to establish career highs in both categories.
Defensively, Soucie made 15 stops (including six solo) for Western New England to go along with his interception. Senior Zachary Fleming added seven tackles and nine total while classmate Kyle Jones also had nine total tackles (4 solo). Senior Cameron Wagar also led MIT with 15 tackles.
Western New England will stay on the road on Nov. 1, taking on Curry at 1 p.m. MIT’s win sets up another showdown for first-place in the NEFC next week when the Engineers will travel to Endicott for a 5 p.m. contest with the Gulls, who are also 4-0 in NEFC play.