CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Despite a late drive that put Becker College just outside of the redzone, MIT thwarted the scoring attempt and held on for a 21-13 victory in the inaugural meeting between both programs on Saturday. The Engineers recorded their second season-opening win in three years while the Hawks saw their ledger dip to 0-2.
Becker got off to a quick start as Johnattan Rivera connected on 28-yard pass from Billy Ramirez that put the Hawks on the MIT 36. Three straight runs from Paul Casmir resulted in first-and-goal at the MIT three-yard line. Justin Bailey capped off the drive with a quick plunge into the end zone, taking just 1:44 to complete the drive. On the ensuing extra-point attempt, the snap was bobbled, but Ramirez nearly hit Melvin Booker for a potential two-point conversion.
With two minutes remaining in the opening quarter, a 61-yard punt by Becker's Eric Glynn put the Engineers at their one-yard line. John Wenzel hooked up with Ben Hessels for a 10-yard grab, but the ball was fumbled and recovered by Tevin Loyd at the MIT 10. Casmir ran for six yards and was followed by a one-yard rush by Bailey. On the Hawks' final effort before the conclusion of the quarter, MIT's Peter Gilliland stopped Rivera with a one-yard loss. After switching ends, Trae Jacobs caught a four-yard toss from Ramirez for the touchdown. A Joseph Peralta extra-point extended the visitors' margin to 13-0.
Starting at their own 36, six consecutive runs by Marcel Sanchez put the Engineers at the Becker 33. A six-yard completion by Kyle Johnson to Nate Forbes was followed by a seven-yard toss to Sanchez on a fourth-and-one. Johnson then took off for the end zone for a 20-yard scramble as a Matthew Peterson extra-point narrowed the gap to 13-7 with 6:29 left in the half.
Both sides punted the ball on their next possessions until MIT's Derek Li forced and recovered a fumble at the MIT 45. Mike Fitzgerald hauled in a 30-yard pass from Johnson to put the hosts at the Becker 25. This was as close as the Cardinal and Gray would get as Jesse Fusco registered a 10-yard sack and Tyler Barnes posted a five-yard tackle for loss. With one second remaining, Sanchez mustered a 15-yard run before being stopped by Rafael Martinez and Shane Balestracci.
The third quarter was a scoreless affair until the Engineers began their second drive midway through the frame. Starting at their 24, Wenzel dashed for two yards before Sanchez recorded runs of seven, six, and four yards. Wenzel found Fitzgerald for a 24-yard catch and then Sanchez gained two yards to move MIT to the Becker 31. Ben Hessels broke free for a 27-yard run which was followed by a quarterback sneak by Wenzel that gained a yard. Hessels gobbled up the final three yards for the first touchdown of his intercollegiate career. Peterson's successful point after gave MIT a lead it would not relinquish.
Following five plays by the Hawks, a 38-yard punt by Glynn was downed at the MIT 15 and set up the Engineers for their final scoring drive with 59 seconds to in the third quarter. Sanchez notched runs of 28 and three yards as a defensive offsides penalty pushed MIT to the Becker 49 at the end of the period. Following the break, the tandem of Sanchez and Johnson traded carries with a 16-yard scamper by Johnson resulting in a touchdown.
Although the Hawks only generated six yards on their first drive of the final frame, Glynn's 55-yard punt pinned MIT back at its own six-yard line. A three-and-out netted only five yards and Gilliland's punt was downed at the MIT 37.
Ramirez began Becker's drive with a seven-yard run followed by back-to-back rushes from Casmir that put the Hawks at the 16-yard line. Two consecutive passes by Ramirez to Rivera resulted in first-and-goal at the MIT five. Casmir's first rushing bid was stopped at the line of scrimmage by Li and Jake Laux. He found success on his next try and gained two yards. Ramirez connected with Rivera but a tackle by Aaron Fittery resulted in a loss of two yards. On fourth-and-goal, Ramirez's feed to Curtis Ludden was broken-up by a diving Travis Wilmer in the end zone.
MIT ran 1:48 off the clock, gained 21 yards, and Gilliland's punt placed Becker at the MIT 49 with just under three minutes to play. Despite grabbing a pass from Ramirez, Ezequiel Torres was pushed back four yards on a tackle by Fittery. Taking to the air again, Ramirez connected with Ludden for a 13-yard reception. Facing a fourth-and-one, Becker went for it and converted on a 10-yard Casmir run that moved the ball to the MIT 30. Ramirez scampered four-yards and ran out-of-bounds to stop the clock. An incomplete pass was followed by a false start which put the Hawks back at the 31-yard line. Ramirez posted another four-yard dash that set up a fourth-and-seven with 1:09 left in the game. He then attempted a pass to Ludden, but it fell incomplete.
Sanchez led all rushers with 154 yards on 29 attempts as MIT gained 343 yards on the ground. Johnson tallied 53 yards passing, going 6-of-12 with one interception and one sack while Wenzel connected on three of his six passing attempts for 38 yards. Fitzgerald was the top receiver for the Engineers, racking up 54 yards on three catches as Forbes had three catches for 19 yards. Li collected nine tackles, one for loss, and two fumble recoveries. Kristopher Weaver totaled six tackles and an eight-yard sack as Rhys Borchert and Gilliland both contributed six tackles.
Ramirez finished with 12 completions on 23 passing attempts which netted 74 yards, threw one touchdown, and was sacked twice. Casmir compiled 55 yards on 23 rushing attempts as Rivera totaled seven catches for 54 yards. Glynn averaged 43.1 yards on his seven punts, with three dropping inside the MIT 20. Mike Carroll posted a team-high eight solo tackles and one assisted tackle. Jake Bateman chipped in six stops while Andrew Reid registered a 33-yard interception.
Both squads continue non-conference action on Saturday, Sept. 18. MIT will host Massachusetts Maritime Academy while Becker will make the trip to WPI.