SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Western New England College football team defeated MIT 27-10 for its school record sixth consecutive victory Saturday afternoon (Oct. 16) during Family & Friends Weekend. The Golden Bears raised their record and remained unbeaten in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Boyd Division with a 4-0 mark.
WNEC is now tied with Plymouth State for the division lead after the Panthers posted a 10-3 decision over Endicott today. The Golden Bears visit PSU next Saturday in Plymouth, New Hampshire.
Western New England College overcame to slow start to finish with 484 yards, including 371 on the ground. It was its second best total of the season in both categories.
Junior quarterback Bryce Brown (Guilford, CT) continued his fine play by rushing for a season high 111 yards on 14 carries (7.9 avg.) and two touchdowns. He also completed 12-of-18 passes for 113 yards and no interceptions.
MIT (1-5, 0-4 Boyd) provided a strong challenge taking a 3-0 lead on its second possession when freshman Matthew Peterson (Klein Oak, TX) kicked a 22-yard field goal at 5:24 of the opening period. The Engineers thwarted a scoring drive near the end of the quarter stopping the hosts on a fourth down play at the MIT 18.
Western New England College scored its first touchdown when sophomore free safety Phil Tsopanides (Fairfield, CT) recovered a fumble and returned it two yards to the MIT 36 with 1:18 left in the stanza. Six plays later sophomore running back Mike Graham (Norwalk, CT) (14 carries, 74 yards) scored from the one just seven seconds in the second quarter.
After forcing a punt, the Golden Bears scored again on their next possession to take a 13-3 advantage when Brown raced 35 yards on fourth down for a score at the 8:05 mark.
The Engineers quickly answered going 61 yards in two plays starting when senior receiver Mike Fitzgerald (Wilmington, MA) caught a nifty 57-yard pass from freshman quarterback John Wenzel (Mandeville, LA) who then ran four yards to cut the margin to three just 39 seconds later.
That was the score at halftime and the Golden Bears' defense kept the visitors off the board the rest of the way
MIT again stopped a scoring drive when a fourth-down pass by Brown from the visitors' four fell incomplete in the end zone on the first possession of the third quarter. Brown later hit the end zone on a three-yard run to cap a four-play, 53-yard drive with 6:13 left in the period.
Western New England College scored its final touchdown when freshman running back Brody Brandstatter (Ansonia, CT) burst through the middle and rambled 20-yard for his first collegiate touchdown on his first collegiate carry with 6:29 left in the contest.
Junior running back JJ Jachym (Milford, CT) added 74 yards rushing on 11 carries while Brandstatter had 46 yards on three carries. Junior receiver Kenny Muhlack (Groton, CT) had a game-high seven receptions for 56 yards.
The Golden Bears put together another solid defensive showing as freshman defensive tackle Kevin Soule (Medfield, MA) compiled eight tackles, which included a sack.
Freshman linebacker Brandon Ormsby (Windsor, CT) added seven tackles while senior linebacker Dylan Chandler (Durham, ME) and junior defensive end Rob Kampson (West Islip, NY) each contributed five tackles.
MIT finished with 269 total yards as Wenzel was 9-of-15 passing for 129 yards as he and senior Kyle Johnson (Fairview, NC) alternated quarterback. Johnson started the contest and ran for a team high 32 yards on 10 carries while completing 5-of-8 passes for 74 yards. Fitzgerald had five catches for 117 yards.
Freshman linebacker Jake Laux (Dousman, WI) compiled a game best 14 tackles. Junior linebacker Peter Gilliland (Grand ledge, MI) had 13 stops. Freshman defensive back Matt Merlino (Vancouver, WA) chipped-in with 11 tackles and a pair of pass breakups.
Before the game, Western New England College coach Keith Emery accepted an award on behalf of his team from Colleen Loveless, the Executive Director of the Springfield chapter of Rebuilding Together, for their community service efforts. WNEC Athletics Department Community Outreach Director Jenn Kolins assisted with the presentation.