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David Silverman
Ethan E. Peterson ’13, senior captain of the MIT football team, is this week’s Athlete of the Week. Peterson was recently named as one of 15 recipients of the National Football Foundation Nation Scholar-Athlete Award.
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Two weeks ago, the MIT football team pulled off possibly the biggest upset in school history, beating previously undefeated (and nationally ranked No. 24 in Division III) Salve Regina University, 20-19. The Engineers, down 14-6 with 9:55 left to play in the fourth quarter, staged an unbelievable comeback, scoring two touchdowns in two possessions. The game winning drive started with just 1:08 to play. It was the last home game of the season, also known as Senior Day, making the victory that much more memorable for the Engineers.

Salve Regina scored the first touchdown of the game late in the first quarter, but missed the extra point for a 6-0 lead. MIT answered on the following drive, moving the ball 69 yards, with Samuel J. Inman ’16 scoring off a 7-yard pass from John C. Wenzel ’14. A good extra point from Chris G. McPherson ’16 put MIT up 7-6 with 12:46 to go in the second quarter.

Salve Regina scored on the opening drive of the second half and took a 13-6 lead. After that, neither team was able to get anything going on offense until MIT took over in the fourth quarter with 9:55 left in the game. The drive began at the MIT 42-yard line, and the Engineers moved the ball all the way to the Salve Regina 14-yard line before facing a critical fourth down and two. Quarterback Peter J. Williams ’15 ran the ball 4-yards to give MIT the first down, and on the next play Williams connected with Inman for the touchdown and a 14-13 lead.

Salve Regina answered with a 70-yard touchdown drive that ate 3:39 off the clock. The two point conversion failed, and the Engineers were down 19-14 with just over a minute left in the game. On the subsequent kickoff, Brad L. Goldsberry ’15 had a pivotal return, faking a handoff and then running 61 yards to put the engineers at the Salve Regina 31-yard line. A critical 5-yard run on fourth and one by Williams got the Engineers down to the 5-yard line, and on the following play, Justin R. Wallace ’15 ran in for what would be the game winning touchdown.

Salve Regina got the ball back with 29 seconds left on the clock, but on their second play of their drive, Jacob N. Laux ’14, who had a great defensive showing with 12 tackles, capped off his impressive performance with an interception that sealed the deal for the Engineers.

It was one of the most exciting MIT football games in recent memory, and several fans and parents vocalized their support of the team. David Fittery, father of senior defensive back Aaron M. Fittery ’13 said “In 16 years of watching my son’s teams play football, I have never seen a trailing underdog summon up such an extraordinary fourth quarter effort to come back and win. Huge kudos to the Coaches and Players. Go TECH!”

To add to the joy of the upset over Salve Regina, this past Saturday, the Engineers beat Nichols College 34-27, thus securing the Engineers’ first winning season since 1999. MIT, now 5-3, will wrap up this memorable season against Endicott College on Nov. 3.

The game against Salve Regina was particularly memorable for the seniors on the team, as it was their last football game with the Engineers at Steinbrenner Stadium. Several of the seniors on the team weighed in on what the game meant to them and what it has meant to them to be part of the MIT football team (see sidebar).

What has it meant to you to be part of the MIT football team?

“Being a part of this team has meant a lot because so few people in the world can understand the academic demands that MIT imposes as well as the hardships of playing college football. The physical, mental, and emotional investment throughout a week of football practice for the chance to play one game a week is unlike any other sport. If you lose, you have to suffer through a whole week of practice with a bad taste in your mouth and the bumps and bruises hurt so much worse. Yet, playing football here at MIT has been one of the most rewarding experiences. Coming into the season with four wins and 23 losses over the past three years it was our goal to win the conference and make the post-season for the first time in MIT history. Five wins and three losses later, our goal is not unattainable, but it is unfortunately out of our control. Nonetheless, I am extremely proud to have helped this program turn itself around and get back onto a winning track. I think this speaks volumes to the dedication and perseverance of the senior class who have stuck together through thick and thin and never given up hope”

-Ethan E. Peterson ’13

“MIT football experience has made me further exercise and learn skill sets such as working under pressure, teamwork, leadership, and finding balance in life. It also made me more well rounded and taught me many things such as being relentless, knowing how to sacrifice, and how to compete. It also made me a more competitive person and football definitely helped me land jobs and internships I wanted. Also football helped me greatly through MIT in that it helps me de-stress and take a break from hitting the books and get a chance to hit something else.

Football also made me more confident and willing to stand up for myself and take my respect. Playing nose guard as a 5’8” 180lb isn’t easy, when you are playing football so undersized and especially when other teams in the league think that all MIT football players do is homework and trying to find a cure for cancer, you just become aggressive and confident and have more swag to go take your respect and let others know what’s up. All of this, however, was taught very well by the coaching staff. I also have to thank all of our coaches and equipment and facilities people who help us out and made our football time more fun and enjoyable. But coaches especially taught me many lessons in life; being confident, going to go get your respect, being bold, being competitive, being disciplined, and everything.”

-Richard C. Yoon ’13

“The football team has been a large part of my experience here at MIT. When I was a freshman, it helped ease me into MIT by helping me get to know my 2013 classmates and it helped me establish relationships with upperclassmen who could give me advice on how to handle MIT, what classes to take, etc. This team has helped shape me into the individual I am today. It has taught me time management skills. It has taught me how to be dedicated to a goal. It has taught me how to be determined and how to not give up in the face of adversity.”

-Chris S. Dessonville ’13

What are your thoughts on the win against Salve Regina and on the team’s performance this season?

“Nobody gave us a chance in that game. No team in the [New England Football Conference] had ever been nationally ranked and Salve Regina was riding the longest current win streak in Division III when they came in here, but we knew that the only thing that could beat us was ourselves. Our coaches preach ball security all day long, but it truly is the difference between winning and losing. If we hold on to the ball, nobody can stop us. Also, I’m really impressed with the underclassmen. They carry the workload on this team and didn’t give up once during the Salve game. I’d just like to thank them for all their hard work and for giving us the best senior night we could have asked for. This season has been a remarkable step for the program and I’m glad to have been a part of it. It also marks the first winning season since 1999 and I hope it makes the statement to the MIT community and the rest of the country that: yes we do have a football team and you should come check us out because we are pretty damn good and only getting better. I know that the team will be even more successful next year than this year and hopefully for many years to come and I would just like to wish all the underclassmen good luck.”

-Ethan E. Peterson ’13

“We played well. We are a great team and I loved that game because everyone thought we were going to get pummeled by them. But we went out, played as a unit and just did what we were coached to do and played the way we can play and we won. It might be a huge upset to other people, but I had no doubt in my mind that we were going to win that game. In fact, I invited Mike Joo, MIT alumni and COO of Bank of America Merril Lynch to come to that game because he was in town, but he had to leave early. I was confident we were going to win, because we were going to play the football we can play. People can be impressed but I would just say what they have seen is just the tip of the iceberg. I really love my team and it was awesome to see everyone really play hard that game. It was also our senior game and it was awesome to have them turn it on extra for us seniors. The team’s performance this season I think is good, but we could have been better and will be better. There were few close games that we lost, especially the one against Curry that we lost by a field goal, but we are playing well and we are having fun! MIT football is a powerhouse and will be a powerhouse that’s going to Shock the nation.”

-Richard C. Yoon ’13

“When we came into this season, it was evident that everyone wanted this season to be something special. With the win over Salve Regina, we proved that we are not a team to be trifled with. Everyone will have to take us seriously. With this week’s win over Nichols, we locked up the first winning season in over a decade. I am proud to be a part of this program. I am proud to be a member of this MIT football family and to continue to support the program after this.”

-Chris S. Dessonville ’13