Corsairs Squelch Upset BidBy Christopher P. Anderson
With their offense out of the doldrums and their defense on fire, the MIT football team seemed on their way to a monumental upset with a 26-14 third-quarter lead over the undefeated UMass-Dartmouth Corsairs. But the 12-point lead evaporated in a period of 15 seconds, and the Beavers ended up chewing on a bitter 36-26 loss.
Quarterback Alex T. Karnal ’03, completing 12 of 20 passes for 211 yards, and tailback Philip M. Deutsch ’04, with 27 carries for 128 yards, each had a fantastic afternoon, and the defense put forth a superb effort, but the clock just didn’t move fast enough for the Beavers.
The emergence of the ground game (176 yards on the day) was a major boost for the Beaver offense. Deutsch and David J. Ostlund ’04 found room to run behind offensive linemen Matt J. Krueger ’05, Justin M. Nelson ’04, Benjamin F. Povlich ’05, Spencer M. Cross ’05 and Keith G. Reed ’04. MIT held a four-minute edge in time of possession, keeping UMD’s potent offense off the field for a good part of the contest.
The Beaver defense played an inspired, hard-nosed game for the second week in a row. Inside linebacker Jerimy R. Arnold ’03 led the way with 11 tackles, joined by Brent M. Schreiber ’03 (7), Corey D. Carter ’03 (10), and Dan Relihan ’04 (8). Conference sack leader Kevin Yurkevich ’06 notched two of the team’s four tackles for loss, but left the game in the third quarter with an injury.
Beaver offense wakes up
Normally a slow-starting team, the Beavers tallied an unprecedented 19 points in the first half. But UMD was on top of their game as well; they reached the end zone on their first drive, ending the MIT defense’s six-quarter shutout streak. Linebacker Schreiber demonstrated his displeasure by blocking the extra point. Deutsch later scored on a 23-yard run, and the extra point by R. Matt Ramirez ’06 gave MIT the lead.
After a Corsair three-and-out, Deutsch struck again with a three-yard plunge. In turn, UMD went right down the field, showing the offensive balance that had led them to the top of the division standings, and scored on a touchdown pass. But MIT answered with a long drive of their own, culminating in a 24-yard Ramirez field goal.
The big play was a 33-yard catch down the left sideline by rookie Kurt Josephson. After the defense refused to yield a first down on the ensuing possession, the UMD punter saw the ball sail above his head and out of the end zone, giving MIT two additional points.
A critical sequence at the end of the second quarter, however, tempered the halftime enthusiasm. MIT had the ball with first-and-goal on the one-yard line. Their two rushing attempts went nowhere, though, and after an incomplete pass, Ramirez’ second field goal try was blocked as time expired.
Second half slips away
MIT seemed in total control midway through the third quarter. The Corsairs moved all the way down to the MIT six-yard line, but strong safety David A. Blau ’06 sacked UMD’s quarterback John Falcone for a 9-yard loss. Defensive captain Brian D. Hoying ’03 blocked the ensuing field goal attempt, and MIT marched the ball down the field on the shoulders of Deutsch and fullback Ostlund. The Beavers hit paydirt when receiver Thomas J. Kilpatrick ’05 shook loose behind the secondary for a 23-yard touchdown., bringing the score to 26-14.
But the Corsairs weren’t intimidated. After a big kickoff return, they cut the lead to 26-21 on a TD rush. On the next play from scrimmage, a fumbled screen pass intended for Kilpatrick was picked up and returned for the go-ahead touchdown, and UMD took the lead for good.
MIT saw a chance slip away when Josephson made a leaping catch deep in UMD territory. The ball was ripped out of his grip long after he hit the ground, but after a long conference, the officials shockingly awarded possession to the Corsairs. MIT’s defense held, but after a Beaver three-and-out, UMD went on a 14-play, 80-yard drive that bled eight minutes off the clock.
After converting on third down four straight times, UMD slammed the door shut with a 6-yard touchdown run by Shawn Theriault. The final comeback bid was snuffed with an interception as the clock went under one minute to play.
The loss dropped MIT to 3-4 overall, and 1-2 in the New England Football Conference’s Boyd Division. MIT’s final two games are at powerful Nichols College this Saturday, and at home against perennial thorn Salve Regina on Nov. 2.