Tech Overwhelmed By Stronger ReginaBy Alvan Eric Loreto
Hours before the opening whistle of last Saturday’s football contest between Salve Regina and MIT, a late-morning shower lasted about 20 minutes before yielding to beautiful sunny skies.
Hours after the opening whistle, however, the young Beaver football team found itself swept away by the downpour of a perennial New England football powerhouse.
In front of a rowdy home crowd at Toppa Field in Newport, RI, the Seahawks swamped the visiting Beavers 53-14, dominating all phases of the game to pick up their first victory of the season. Salve (1-2, 1-1 NEFC) exploded for 440 yards of offense, 303 of them on the ground, while holding MIT (1-2, 1-2 NEFC) to 158 total yards. Senior running back Mark DiBiasio led the way with 90 yards on 10 carries, but there was no one star that hurt the Beavers. Rather, it was a strong balanced team effort that led to the Beavers’ destruction. Seven different SRU players scored to complement an outstanding effort from the swarming Salve defense.
Salve’s first touchdown, a 16-yard pass from Jeff Wright to Ron Casper, was quickly matched by MIT on a nifty 13-yard TD run by David R. Skordal ’02. Then the floodgates opened as the Seahawks proceeded to score 46 unanswered points, including 6 touchdowns on the ground. The MIT defense was left with no answers to Salve’s confusing Wing-T attack, which also mixed in the pass effectively despite being a run-based offense. Averaging a whopping 7.0 yards per carry, SRU had little need to go to the air, but they found success in rare third-down situations by hitting wide-open receivers on crossing routes over the middle of the field.
SRU stays strong in second half
Leading 30-7 at halftime, Salve came out even stronger in the second half. DiBiasio’s 7-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter drenched any hopes of a Beaver comeback. In addition, a 30-yard touchdown run by Anthony Pirri on the very next series ensured quality playing time for the Seahawk reserves.
Yet despite the Salve dominance, MIT did more than its share in contributing to the demoralizing defeat. Two lost fumbles, an interception, and two errant punt snaps by the Beavers, all in their own territory, led to 30 Seahawk points. In addition, a fourth-down penalty on the MIT punt-return team for having twelve men on the field extended another SRU offensive drive that ended with a touchdown. Regardless, credit remains with the Seahawk defensive unit, which stuffed the Beaver running game and pressured Skordal’s passing attempts all day.
The positives for the Beaver football team were sparse on this nightmarish day, but a solid performance was turned in by starting receiver Charles A. Toye ’00 at backup quarterback. Toye scored the second Beaver touchdown on a one yard plunge late in the game and completed several nicely thrown balls to the MIT receivers.
The Beaver option attack, which has showed too much inconsistency this year, again showed flashes of its potential in a few nice runs from Maik C. Flanagin G and Enrique J. Villavicencio ’00. And not surprisingly, co-captain Nikolas Kozy ’00 played superbly at his defensive end position. As a team, though, the Beavers were thoroughly outclassed by the talent and tradition of the Salve football program, which maintained its perfect lifetime record over MIT for yet another year.
Beavers look forward to Curry
Tomorrow marks the homecoming for MIT, and quite fittingly they host the Curry College Colonels in an NEFC Blue Division matchup at Steinbrenner Field. The rivalry with Curry (1-2, 1-1 NEFC) has become a heated one over the past few years, as cheap shots, gloating, and on-the-field chatter from both sides were visible in both the 1997 31-0 MIT victory and the 1998 28-7 Curry victory. Not all of the rivalry is unfriendly, though; Chris House, the mastermind behind the improved MIT defense, is the former head football coach at Curry, not to mention one of its more well-remembered alumni. There is no doubt that Coach House and the rest of the Beaver coaching staff will bring their troops into battle fired up and well-prepared.
A longtime conference cellar-dweller, the Colonels are now a team on the rise. Second-year head coach and former New England Patriots linebacker Steve Nelson has rejuvenated the Curry program, instilling confidence and a new attitude in his team, as well as attracting more talented players from local high schools through his NFL experience. The Colonels rebounded from a dismal 1997 campaign to post a 6-4 (6-3 NEFC) record in 1998, an achievement that earned Nelson NEFC Coach of the Year honors. The 1999 version is coming off a tough 20-16 loss last week to Framingham State, who MIT defeated in Week 1.
The Colonels run a pro-style offense that, although predictable, is capable of both running and passing the ball effectively. The biggest weapon is sophomore running back Tony Giannetti, who is a good runner but even a better pass catcher out of the backfield (two receiving TD in ’99). Freshman tight end Greg Jacobs is a key contributor, averaging nearly 12 yards a catch. Senior quarterback Steve Santos is the leader but may have been rattled by an 89-yard, three interception performance last week against FSU.
On defense, Curry runs a basic 4-4 and 5-3 geared to stop the run-oriented NEFC teams. They are led by talented senior linebacker Chuck Israel, the NEFC Defensive Player of the Week for September 18. The secondary is young (all freshmen and sophomores) but quick. The defensive line, led by 235-pound senior tackle Aubrey Beavers, is big but slow, so the Beaver game plan should favor running to the outside.
For the first time this year, MIT has the edge over its opponent in terms of player-to-player matchups. The key to victory is remaining disciplined, playing assignment football, and cutting down on mistakes. The costly penalties of last week must be eliminated against the Colonels. If the Beavers play to their potential on both sides of the ball, the sheer advantage in talent should carry them to the .500 mark this Saturday.
Beaver Injury Report: LB Brian L. Licata ’01, hand, probable; G Alexander W. Deneui ’03, hand, questionable; RB Ryan B. Whitaker ’03, arm, probable.