Western New England College goes after sixth straight win against MIT

More news about: Western New England
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Western New England College looks to continue its winning ways against MIT in a New England Football Conference (NEFC) Boyd Division game starting at 1:00 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 16) during Family and Friends Weekend.

Before the contest, the Golden Bears will be recognized for their community service efforts with the "Rebuilding Together Springfield" initiative. The game is also part of the "Game Day Challenge" program noting the College's participation in properly managing recyclable material separate from trash.

WNEC has emerged as one of the surprise teams, not only in the NEFC, but also in the region after raising their record to 5-1 following a 27-23 victory at Curry. The win was the fifth straight for Western New England College (which tied the school record) and first victory over the Colonels' in 11 meetings dating back to 2000.

The Golden Bears also remained unbeaten and tied for first place in the division with both Endicott and Plymouth State at 3-0. WNEC was ranked for the first time ever in the weekly New England Division III Coaches Poll claiming the ninth spot (Endicott is fourth, Plymouth State seventh).

The win over Curry drew considerable attention after the Blue and Gold totaled 370 yards and 27 points against the league' second best scoring defense.

"Our offense really came to play, said Western New England College coach Keith Emery. "We struggled at times on defense and special teams, and we need to fix some things in those areas."

Three players who played key roles were senior Jake Field (Long Valley, NJ), junior quarterback Bryce Brown (Guilford, CT), and sophomore defensive end James Georges (Stamford, CT).

Field kicked a pair of field goals (24, 35 yards) and averaged 40 yards for three punts. He was named the NEFC Special Teams Player-of-the-Week. Brown accounted for 266 yards (178 passing, 88 rushing) and two touchdowns. Georges forced and recovered a fumble on the WNEC one with less than a minute to play to preserve the win.

Emery and his staff have done a remarkable job raising the profile of the Golden Bears' program while maintaining a workmanlike approach to every game.

"It's been an interesting and unpredictable ride so far. We are taking things one day at a time," he said.

Through six games, Brown leads the Golden Bears in total offense with 791 yards (474 passing, 317 rushing) and seven touchdowns (five on the ground). Junior running back JJ Jachym (Milford, CT) has a team best 491 yards rushing and is averaging 81.8 yards an outing. Field has 29 points after making 14-of-15 extra points and 5-of-6 field goals.

On defense, sophomore free safety Phil Tsopanides (Fairfield, CT) has 41 tackles followed by senior linebacker Justin Bailey (Northborough, MA) and Dylan Chandler (Durham, ME) with 37 and 33 stops, respectively.

Western New England College is fourth in the conference in both total defense (260.7 avg.) and pass defense (131.0).

MIT comes to town with a 1-4 record and 0-3 division mark after dropping a hard-fought 21-7 decision against Plymouth State. The Engineers defeated Becker in the season opener (21-13), but have lost four straight outings against NEFC teams.

"MIT is now employing the spread offense with two young and talented quarterbacks calling the signals. We struggled the last time we saw a spread (allowing 35 points at Norwich in the season opener), so we need to prepare for their no-huddle pace as well. MIT plays a very tough run defense and boasts an experienced secondary. They are very tough to score on," stated Emery.

At quarterback, senior Kyle Johnson (Fairview, NC) and freshman John Wenzel (Mandeville, LA) have combined for 601 yards passing and 281 yards on the ground. Johnson also has run for three touchdowns. Senior receiver Mike Fitzgerald (Wilmington, MA) leads the NEFC with 36 catches for 363 yards. Junior running back Marcel Sanchez (Oneonta, NY) has 378 yards on the ground and a pair of scores.

Junior defensive lineman Patrick Jupe (Austin, TX) is fourth in the conference with 48 tackles while junior linebacker Peter Gilliland (Grand Ledge, MI) has 39 tackles.

Despite their record, the Engineers are second in the NEFC in pass defense (121.6 avg.) and eighth among the league's 16 teams in total defense (290.6 avg.).

This will be the 22nd meeting between the schools with MIT leading the series (which started in 1989) by a 13-8 margin. WNEC posted a 59-21 victory last year in Springfield.
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