Football Looks Past Big Loss to Bridgewater StateBy Alvan Eric P. Loreto
The Ringling Brothers’ Barnum and Bailey Circus rolled into Boston last week, but “The Greatest Show on Earth” couldn’t quite compare to last Saturday’s Andy Maciaone Show at Steinbrenner Field.
Maciaone, a junior wide receiver for Bridgewater State, dazzled the partisan crowd of 850 with 184 receiving yards on an array of acrobatic plays to help the Bears (6-0, 4-0 NEFC Red) remain undefeated in 1999 with a 54-21 victory over the MIT Beavers. The home loss dropped MIT to 2-4 (1-3 NEFC Blue) while running BSC’s winning streak to 11 games dating back to last season.
Bear Quarterback Dan Maurer played a sensational co-starring role, throwing for 268 yards and rushing for three touchdowns. Maurer also threw three TD passes, all of which ended up in the hands of his star target Maciaone. The 1997 NEFC Rookie of the Year, Maciaone showcased all of the gifts -- jumping ability, speed, and elusive quickness -- that have made him the top receiver in the NEFC for the past two years.
After a 15-yard TD run by Enrique J. Villavicencio ’00 gave MIT a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, Maciaone went to work on a solid but overmatched Beaver secondary. With 8:07 in the second quarter, Maciaone beat Beaver cornerback Alvan P. Loreto ’01 on a fade route for a 20-yard touchdown to help BSC draw even. Despite perfect step-for-step coverage by Loreto, Maciaone skied over his defender to take away a sure interception, boosting his teammates’ morale and opening the floodgates for the most potent offense in the conference.
MIT loses early lead permanently
A 2-yard TD run by Maurer on the next Bridgewater drive gave the Bears the lead for good. Then Maciaone struck again immediately after the next MIT drive, which ended in a punt. Aided by a blown MIT coverage, Maciaone used his 4.4s 40-yard-dash speed to catch a deep post pattern in full stride and outrace cornerback Kevin R. Richardson ’01 to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown. The quick score, which came a minute before the half, took the wind out of the Beaver sails and ensured that BSC would not come out as sluggishly after halftime as they had at the opening of the game.
The Bears rolled in the second half, outscoring MIT 27-7, and Maciaone picked up right where he left off. At 7:31 in the third quarter, Maciaone stepped back to catch a quick screen from Maurer, shook cornerback Angus Huang ’00 on a beautiful spin move, then tiptoed down the sideline behind two excellent blocks for a 36-yard touchdown. This last athletic feat capped a stellar day for the standout receiver in which he averaged a stupendous 26.3 yards per catch.
Yet despite the 33-point loss, the young MIT team gave its fans several reasons to be excited for the remaining four weeks of the season. The Beaver offense showed its ability to run the ball on the conference’s premiere team. Villavicencio showed his knack for scoring by finding the end zone three times (2 TD, 1 extra point), and Maik C. Flanagin G rushed for 89 yards on 16 carries, a 5.6-yard average.
And although the Beaver defense could not contain Maciaone, it executed its game plan of slowing dangerous BSC running back Seto Berry. Berry, the second-leading rusher in the NEFC, finished with 83 yards on the ground, only the second time this season he has been held under 100 yards.
Finally, the MIT special teams units played another solid game. The kick return teams showed marked improvement, and for the third time this year the Beavers defensive special teams put points on the board. Richardson’s punt block in the first quarter was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Sean Brennan ’00.
Although Brennan’s uncontested leaping headfirst dive into the end zone at the end of the play cost MIT a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, his action epitomized the enthusiasm, boldness, and confidence of a tough and steadily improving Beaver football squad as it heads into the homestretch of its season.
Nichols college next for beavers
MIT’s next foe is Nichols College (4-1, 3-1 NEFC Blue), which is enjoying a solid season under first-year coach Bill Carven. The Bison have returned 17 starters from last year’s 5-5 squad and are coming off a solid victory last week over UMass-Dartmouth.
The story this year for Nichols has been their defense, which is at or near the top of the conference in every team category. In five games the Bison defense has surrendered a total of 34 points, an average of 6.8 points per game. The defense is led in the middle by senior linebacker Chris Burun. Burun, a team captain, leads the team in tackles with 45. Big defensive lineman Myles Fayle is an excellent athlete up front (41 tackles, 5 sacks), and cornerbacks Courtenay Jackson and Lavar Gary (3 INT each) make it tough for an opposing offense to go to the air.
Running back Matt Fox, last year’s NEFC Offensive Rookie of the Year, leads the run-oriented Bison offense. Fox, who rushed for 1,157 yards as a freshman, has continued his solid ways this year. The line Fox runs behind is big but slow but, keeping with tradition the Nichols passing attack is above par. The Bison go to the air often in second- and third-down situations, finding decent receivers David Higgs and Nick Parker. Unfortunately, the biggest question mark this year is at quarterback, where Adam Perry and Nate Stawiecki have been dueling for time.
Many unknowns remain
Cold, wet weather is expected for Saturday’s Beaver home game, which will aid MIT in its quest for its third victory. The MIT run defense has gotten better over the past two weeks, and its ability to bottle up Fox and force Nichols to the air will determine the outcome of the game. Despite their excellent record, the Bison have not yet played a team on the same talent level as themselves until this week. It will be interesting to see how Skordal, who is recovering from an elbow injury, and the MIT option attack fare against a good but untested Nichols defense.
Beaver Injury Report: OLB John Boyer, shoulder, out 2-3 weeks; WR Charles Toye, knee, out 2-3 weeks; OL Alex DeNeui, knee, out 2-3 weeks.