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Offense Sputters in 19-0 Loss

By Ryan Lanphere

The difference on Saturday for the Buccaneers of Massachusetts Maritime Academy was their ability to keep possession and finish in the red zone. Scoring on three of their four trips to the red zone and winning the turnover battle four to one allowed the Bucs to blank MIT football 19-0.

The Engineers of MIT (0-1) opened their 2006 season against Massachusetts Maritime Academy (1-0) at Steinbrenner Stadium to a respectable home crowd this past Saturday. It was a non-division contest for the Engineers since the teams are in different divisions of the New England Football Conference. The victory was a career first for Buccaneers coach Jeremy Cameron in his second year with the program. The win also broke a 15 game losing streak for Mass. Maritime for the first victory over the Engineers in six years.

An efficient running game was not enough for the Engineers, whose rushing attack was led by runningback Thomas C. Scotton ’08 who ran for 67 yards on 16 carries. Despite two trips inside their opponents’ six-yard line in the first quarter, the Engineers were unable to score or do much of anything else for the rest of the game.

The Engineers did not put together any significant drives, mainly because they failed to hold onto the football on offense. Four turnovers, including two interceptions by sophomore quarterback and NEFC 2005 Rookie of the Year Richard A. Mancuso ’09 and two fumbles kept the wary Engineer defense on the field for almost ten minutes longer than the opposition’s.

The Engineer’s defensive effort was highlighted by senior linebacker and co-captain Alfredo M. Rivera ’07, who led the team with eight tackles and one sack. The Engineers secondary also came to play on Saturday with junior safety Joseph T. Goldschmid ’08 (eight tackles, one forced fumble), cornerback Ryan L. Brunswick ’09 (six solo tackles), and safety David O. Kalk ’08 (seven tackles, one sack) contributing significantly to an Engineer defense that held the Buccaneers to only 254 total yards.

With the game still scoreless, the nail in the coffin for the Engineers ultimately came in the second quarter when the Buccaneers drove the ball 94 yards on 16 plays eating up 8:24 in the second quarter. Starting from their own six yard-line with 12:13 left to play in the first half, the Buccaneers quickly gave themselves room to work when sophomore running back Tom Stralka started the drive with a 19-yard carry up the far sideline.

The Engineers missed a big opportunity on that play when Stralka fumbled the ball at the end of the rush but the Engineers were unable to come up with anything. The drive was capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Buccaneer freshman running back Jeff Pirri, the first of his two scores.

The Bucs’ offense was led by Stralka, who carried the ball 11 times for 65 yards and one score and sophomore quarterback Joe DeFrank who was an efficient 11 of 13 for 63 yards. On defense, sophomore linebacker Kyle Audette led the Bucs with eight tackles, five of the solo variety and one for a loss. The Bucs’ secondary was also solid coming up with two interceptions and limiting MIT’s main deep threat and 2005 NEFC all-conference honorable mention, sophomore receiver Kevin T. Vogelsang ’09 to just 38 yards on four receptions.

The final interception was caught by the Bucs defensive back Sam Sirrico with just over three minutes remaining, sealing the Engineers’ fate.

MIT plays its first road game of the season next week on Saturday, Sept. 16 when the team travels to Framingham, Mass. to play Framingham State College at 2:00 p.m.