MIDDLETOWN, R.I. – Opening the New England Football Conference (NEFC) season on the road, MIT held a 21-16 halftime lead against Salve Regina University but the Seahawks scored 13 fourth-quarter points and shut out the Engineers in the second half to come away with a 29-21 win. Senior Jake Laux (Dousman, Wis.) led the MIT defense with 15 tackles and recovered a fumble for a touchdown, while junior Justin Wallace (Palatine, Ill.) ran for 60 yards and a score for the Engineers.
MIT (2-1, 0-1 NEFC) was put in a hole early when Salve Regina (2-1, 1-0 NEFC) held the Engineers on the first possession of the game, forcing a punt. Senior John Wenzel (Mandeville, La.) got off a 39-yard boot, but Phil Terio took the ball at his own 39 and eluded the MIT defenders all the way to the end zone for a 61-yard TD return for the Seahawks. Senior Joel Santisteban (Lawrence, N.Y.) blocked the extra point attempt, leaving the score at 6-0 just two minutes in. The Engineers got the score back on Salve's first possession when sophomore Alex Noakes (Watkinsville, Ga.) sacked Seahawk quarterback Steven Wilken for a 16-yard loss to the SRU 11. Wilken fumbled on the play and the ball got into the end zone where Laux pounced on it for the score and a 7-6 MIT lead.
Salve Regina came right back with a 30-yard field goal from Christian Clark that capped off a 64-yard drive that was kept alive by a Wilken 52-yard run on a third and one play. MIT's defense then came up big again on the next Seahawk possession when senior Rhys Borchert (Pocatello, Idaho) picked off Wilken at the SRU 43. On the next play junior Peter Williams (Portland, Ore.) hit sophomore Nathan Varady (Fayetteville, Ark.) with a 34-yard pass to give the Engineers a first and goal. Two plays later junior Brad Goldsberry (Elizabeth, Colo.) took it in from the one to put MIT back on top, 14-9, with 39 second left in the first quarter.
Salve Regina saw Alex Hulme return the ensuing kickoff 28 yards to the 43, setting up the Seahawks for an answering score. Wilken hit back-to-back 15-yard passes, the second a scoring strike to Matthew Traynor that put Salve back on top, 16-14. Williams hit sophomore Karson Ota (Katy, Texas) for 56 yards on MIT's next play to give the Engineers a first and goal, but was then intercepted by Frank Musco in the end zone to thwart the scoring chance for the Engineers
The defenses then took over and the two sides traded punts on the next four possessions. With two minutes left in the half Wenzel came up with MIT's second interception of the game, picking off Wilken at the SRU 46. Williams then hit Ota for 24 yards to the SRU 22, Goldsberry ran for eight and then Wallace took it the final 14 for the score and another lead change, putting the Engineers on top 21-16 at the 1:03 mark.
Salve Regina drove to the MIT 10 on the first possession of the second half, but the Engineers held on a fourth-down play and turned around to drive to the SRU 25 before stalling. Freshman Tucker Cheyne (Avon, Conn.) came on for a 42-yard field goal, but his attempt was blocked by Hayden Stanton to keep it a five-point contest. The quarter went on to remain scoreless, with both teams coming up with interceptions to halt drives.
MIT pinned Salve Regina on its own six late in the third quarter, but the Seahawks went on to put together a 14-play scoring drive that resulted in a nine-yard TD run by Richie Edwards. Salve went for two, but Wilken's pass attempt failed, leaving the Seahawks with a 22-21 edge. After Salve held MIT on its next possession, the Seahawks went 81 yards in a quick two minutes, with Wilken hitting Paul Panarelli for a 41-yard TD with 7:11 left hat proved to be the final points of the day. MIT had a final chance with two minutes to go, but Williams was intercepted for the third time on the day, this time by Terio at the MIT 28, and the Seahawks went on to run out the clock and preserve the victory.
Williams hit on 15 of his 26 attempts for 214 yards, but threw the three interceptions. Ota led the receivers with four catches for 85 yards. Wilken completed 16 of 28 for 181 yards and two scores and was also intercepted three times. Edwards led the Seahawks with 120 yards and one TD rushing, while Hulme and Dan Buonocore each made five catches to top Salve Regina. Danny Ives led the Seahawk defense with 11 tackles.
MIT will make its long awaited home debut this season next Saturday when it hosts Curry College at 1:00 p.m. in Steinbrenner Stadium. Salve Regina will be on the road next weekend, taking on Nichols College at 1:00 p.m.