Sept. 9, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Mass Maritime freshman Jeff Pirri hammered in two touchdowns from short distance and the Buccaneers ended a 15-game losing streak with a 19-0 victory over MIT at Steinbrenner Stadium, Saturday afternoon. The Engineers, who had defeated Mass Maritime in the previous five meetings, lost their home opener for the first time since 2001, while Buccaneers' head coach Jeremy Cameron enjoyed his first collegiate win.
Sophomore Joe DeFrank and freshman David Hike split time behind center during Saturday's tilt, but DeFrank looked especially sharp. The second-year quarterback finished 11-for-13 and managed the game flawlessly.
Although neither team scored during the opening frame, the Engineers (0-1) were inside the 10-yard line on consecutive possessions, but were unable to get into the endzone. MIT's second drive of the game proved to be its best as the Cardinal and Gray marched 67 yards on 14 plays only to be denied on downs at the Mass Maritime four. On Tech's ensuing possession, the Engineers drove 29 yards on seven plays to get to the Buccaneer six, only to be stopped on downs again.
Mass Maritime (1-0) finally broke the scoreless deadlock with 3:49 left in the first half. Sophomore Tom Stralka capped a 16-play, 94-yard drive with a one-yard run up the middle. The Buccaneers missed the extra point but still enjoyed a 6-0 lead at the break after MIT fumbled the ball in the midst of a strong drive to close out the half.
In the second half, Mass Maritime dominated possession by securing the ball on offense for nearly 19 minutes. Stralka, who rushed for a team-high 65 yards on 11 carries, paced the ground assault, while freshman Alex Butler chipped in with 44 yards on nine attempts. Rookie Stefan Stauber led the receiving corps with four catches, although DeFrank and Hike spread the ball to six different receivers.
Holding the ball for nearly 10 minutes in the third quarter, the Buccaneers ended the stanza behind Pirri's first touchdown of the game. After forcing a quick three and out, Mass Maritime held the ball for the first seven minutes of the fourth before Pirri added his second score with a two-yard run. The Buccaneers final drive of the game was good for 11 plays and 42 yards.
The Engineers were never able to get on track offensively. Sophomore Rick Mancuso, who returns to the MIT lineup after earning NEFC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, was held to a career low 67 yards, while finishing 11-for-24 with two interceptions. Despite enduring some aerial woes, the Engineers fared much better on the ground. T.C. Scotton paced the Engineers with a game-best 67 yards on 16 carries. Rookies Ben Grannon and DeRon Brown completed a strong rotation that finished with 123 yards on 26 rushes.