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Toth Leads Engineers to 25-14 Win in Football Home Opener

By Albert Ni

It doesn’t always take perfect play to produce a winning formula — the right combination of solid effort and improvement on both ends of the field can work wonders. This was the case in the Engineers’ 25-14 victory over the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. MIT visibly outplayed its opponents throughout the game in a solid effort by a squad clearly hungry to win in their home opener.

Renditions of “Row, row, row your boat” and Christmas carols could be heard from the MIT band in the stands. Indeed, life was but a dream as Christmas came early for the Engineers in the form of 12 costly Maritime penalties for 132 yards, which gave new life to MIT drives and killed promising Maritime ones.

Quarterback Stephen C. Toth ’09 led a balanced offensive assault by the Engineers with 168 yards on the ground and 251 yards in the air. Defensive Back David O. Kalk ’08 led the Tech defense with 10 tackles and an interception. The MIT defense dominated a weak Maritime offense, with 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles, one of which led to a safety. Additionally, the Tech defense allowed only 71 yards on the ground, and 177 yards in the air, 85 of which came on a meaningless Maritime strike late in the fourth quarter.

Coming off a disheartening loss last week to Framingham State, a game in which Tech actually managed more yards of offense than their opponents, things didn’t look much better at first on a gloomy Saturday afternoon. Toth had his second pass of the game picked off for a quick 25-yard touchdown. He bounced back immediately with a 46-yard drive that ended with a 26-yard field goal by Matt R. Ramirez ’06. The drive was given new life with a pass interference call against Maritime on a Fourth-and-21, one of 12 costly Maritime penalties, totaling 132 yards.

On the next possession, things didn’t look good at first as Tech started pinned inside their own 5-yard line. Toth responded with a quick 35-yard strike to Marcus R. Carson ’07, and then additional completions to Thomas J. Kilpatrick ’06 and Carson once again, setting up a 21-yard run for a touchdown by Robert C. Utz ’09, which gave MIT a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“We ironed out a lot of things,” said Coach Dwight Smith. “We were able to get our receivers in the game passing-wise.”

In the second quarter, Tech built their lead to 17-7, courtesy of the ground game of Utz and Muamba P. Muanankese ’08, as well as a 23-yard reception by Kilpatrick. In the process, the Engineer defense continued to shut down the Maritime offense, which converted on only 3 of 15 third downs in the game.

The Engineers clearly had the momentum going into halftime. It only improved as Defensive Lineman Brennan P. Sherry ’06 forced a quick fumble leading to a safety less than two minutes into the third quarter and then walked off the field to cries of “Sherrrrrrrrry!” from MIT fans in the stands.

By the fourth quarter, Tech fans were chanting and charging each other with large empty water jugs as the fate of the game was no longer in doubt after Carson capped off his solid day with a 36-yard touchdown reception.

“It was a lot better than last week,” Smith said. “We improved offensively, defensively; the level of effort was a lot better. The intensity was a lot better.”