Football Closes with Win on Senior NightBy Christopher P. Anderson
The MIT football team sent their seniors out on a high note and capped their season with a historically unprecedented win over visiting Salve Regina University on Saturday. It was an emotional day and a dominant performance, with the seniors making critical plays all over the field. MIT won 16-8 and slammed the doors on Salve’s hopes for the conference title.
After a dismal start to their season (0-5), the Seahawks were 2-1 in conference play coming into Saturday’s game. With a win against MIT, next week’s game against U-Mass-Dartmouth would have been for the division title and a shot at the NEFC championship. Salve rolled into Cambridge amid much hoopla, overconfident for a win.
Salve’s best play of the game was perhaps their 59-yard return of the opening kickoff. After that, it was all MIT. Two plays later, MIT senior captain Brian D. Hoying forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Michael A. Terry ’04. The offense took advantage and moved downfield with the help of screen passes from captain Alex T. Karnal ’03 to runningbacks Philip M. Deutsch ’04 and David J. Ostlund ’04. Kicker R. Matt Ramirez ’06 finished the drive with a career-long 42-yard field goal, giving MIT a lead they would never relinquish.
Beavers extend lead
The Beavers extended that lead early in the second quarter when Thomas J. Kilpatrick ’05 made a fantastic leaping catch in the west end zone. The play was set up by the shifty running of Deutsch and completions from Karnal to Kilpatrick and captain Keith V. Battocchi ’03. Ramirez’ extra point made the score 10-0.
Salve reached MIT territory on their next drive, but fell prey to a sack by Dan Relihan ’04 and M. Cody Patrick ’05, and then another by Brennan P. Sherry ’06 and senior linebacker Josh W. Baratz ’03. Baratz, who had seen most of his action on special teams, had a monster of a game, breaking up two passes in addition to the sack.
With MIT fighting into SRU territory on the next drive and facing fourth-and-seven, Karnal took matters into his own hands. He aborted his bootleg pass and turned upfield, eluding a would-be tackle with a pump-fake for a 15-yard gain. The drive ended with a missed field goal, but Karnal’s run was symbolic of the gutsy effort of the MIT seniors, who were playing their final game at Steinbrenner Stadium.
Salve tried to get into scoring range before the half ended, but were unsuccessful. Under intense defensive pressure, Salve quarterback Jason Seal completed only two passes and was intercepted by Terry on a last-second toss into the end zone. Terry then fumbled, and linebacker Brent M. Schreiber ’03, who earlier in the season returned a blocked kick 95 yards, recovered. Schreiber was tackled moments later.
Win is MIT’s first ever over Salve
The third quarter was scoreless, with both teams edging out long drives. But the Beavers’ hopes for a shutout ended when Salve took over on the MIT 38 and drove to the end zone in six plays.
After a two-point conversion rush, MIT led only 10-8 and the momentum was wearing a white shirt. Karnal was not about to let another fourth-quarter comeback happen; he hit Kilpatrick with a perfect 32-yard pass on the next play from scrimmage, moving MIT to the Salve 48. Then on third-and-10 from the 37, Battocchi sealed the deal with a 12-yard catch over the middle. Ryan J. Lanphere ’06 later scored on a 16-yard run up the middle; a missed extra point kept the lead at 16-8.
Special teams standout Tanis Fidelholtz ’04 made the tackle on the ensuing kickoff, and Schreiber's tackle on fourth down gave the ball back to MIT with 29 seconds remaining. When Karnal kneeled to end MIT’s 2002 season, the Beavers broke into celebration. The win marked the first-ever over Salve Regina in the history of MIT football.
Impressive performances seal win
MIT’s defense flummoxed Salve’s Wing-T running offense, allowing only 132 yards on the ground and recording nine tackles for loss. Schreiber was a strong force in the game, with 13 tackles. He was joined by Terry, cornerback Corey D. Carter ’03, and linebackers Jerimy R. Arnold ’03 and Michael J. Harvey ’04. Mark A. Jury ’04, Relihan, and Sherry stepped up big on a defensive line thinned by injuries to Lars A. Gronning ’03, Christopher P. Anderson ’04 and Kevin M. Yurkerwich ’06.
On offense, Deutsch kept the clock moving all day, finishing with 92 rushing yards to go with 49 receiving yards on only two catches. Senior runningback Ryan B. Whitaker, dogged by injury for much of the season, saw significant action after Ostlund pulled his hamstring in the first quarter. He made the most of the opportunity, opening lanes for Deutsch by throwing great blocks all day.
Karnal finished 13 of 27 for 201 yards, surpassing Deutsch (a quarterback his first two years) for second in MIT single-season passing yardage. Karnal threw for 1,396 yards over nine games. Kilpatrick was his favorite target on Saturday, catching seven passes for 74 yards.
Saturday’s victory brought MIT’s record for the season to 4-5.