On a dreary, rainy Saturday, the MIT Engineers stepped onto Roberts Field in Steinbrenner Stadium for the final time this season. The game’s final result was a loss to Salve Regina University 28-10.
The Engineers’ pre-game ritual was moved up fifteen minutes as each of the 12 seniors were honored, running through a tunnel of teammates to be greeted by Head Coach Chad Martinovich, parents and loved ones. The announcer also spoke about each player individually, including accolades on and off the field. The twelve include Captain DeRon M. Brown, Michael P. Fitzgerald, Corey Garvey, Captain Willliam J. Gibson, Captain Garth S. Grove, Tyler Z. Liechty, Anthony D. McDonald, Jordan N. Meenen, Brian H. Mickle, Marcus A. Parton, Zachary W. Rose, and Captain Alexander F. Rubino.
“All I ask,” Rubino said in the pre-game huddle, “is that each and every one of you give everything you got and leave everything on the field. That’s all I ask.”
The Seahawks of Salve Regina University, a team MIT has beaten handily each of the past three years, won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to begin the game. The opening position was an inauspicious beginning to the game. The MIT defense, typically strong opening the game, could not stop the Seahawk march down the field. Salve opened with a one-yard quarterback sneak by Jeff St. Onge to take an early lead.
The Engineers had several chances to take the lead, bringing the ball to the Seahawk three and fifteenyard lines on two consecutive drives, but the Cardinal and Grey were held on a goal-line stand and then intercepted on the two drives. Following the interception, the Seahawks yet again methodically marched down the field entering MIT territory to eventually cap the drive with another run by St. Onge.
MIT was able to swing the momentum back in its favor late in the second quarter. Brown, who would finish the day with 246 yards on 41 carries, helped the Engineer offense with the majority of the drive including the final score on an 11-yard rush, cutting the lead down to 14-7 before both teams entered the locker rooms at halftime.
The Engineers came out strong, building on the previous half’s momentum out of the gate as they marched down the field on the opening possession. An interception, however, quickly ended any surge in momentum the drive could have had.
The third quarter brought a scare for the Engineers. Quarterback Sean P. Kelly ’12, who had been alternating snaps with starter Kyle T. Johnson ’11, dislocated his knee on a broken pass play as he tried to scramble for positive yardage. Play was stopped immediately and all players joined their teams on the sidelines and knelt in silence as the trainers, medical staff, and coaches helped to secure Kelly and get him into the ambulance.
As play resumed, Coach Martinovich brought the Engineers together to explain that Kelly’s knee was stable and that the Engineers now had a second source of motivation.
Salve Regina was able to widen the gap, however, taking a 21-7 lead on a 46-yard pass from St. Onge to receiver Nick Piscitelli.
The Engineers remained determined and responded by moving the ball form their own 35 yard line down 42 yards down to the Seahawks’ 23, where Peter W. Gilliland ’12 booted a career-long 40-yard field goal to bring MIT to within 11 points.
SRU against responded swiftly, capping an 85-yard drive with another touchdown pass from St. Onge to bring the score to 28-10.
Brown then took off for the longest play of the day — on the first play from scrimmage on the ensuing kickoff, Brown scampered past Salve Regina on a 58-yard zone rush up the sidelines on the final score of the day, bringing the score to 28-17.
The loss was detrimental to the team. Seniors were especially heartbroken, losing to a team they had handily defeated in the three previous years of their MIT careers.
The season, however, is not a lost cause. Offensive guard Ethan E. Peterson ’13 recognizes, “we have to finish this season strong for the seniors. Coach Martinovich told us at the team dinner Friday that these last three weeks are about the guys who are hanging up their pads. We owe it to them to keep working as hard as we have been throughout the year, to keep fighting.”
The Engineers (1-6, 1-3 NEFC Boyd) will play the Plymouth State Panthers (6-2, 4-1 NEFC Boyd) at noon this Saturday in Plymouth, New Hampshire.