Sept. 13, 2008
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Junior DeRon Brown rushed for a career-best 251 yards and two touchdowns to lead MIT football to a 42-14 victory over the Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Saturday. Brown followed up last week’s electrifying performance with the second-highest single-game rushing total in school history while the Engineers improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2004.
MIT set the tone out of the gate as it converted a successful onsides kick. Although the Engineers failed to score their first time out, junior Will Gibson recovered a fumble on the Buccaneers ensuing possession to give the offense another opportunity to dent the scoreboard first. On the sixth play of MIT’s second drive, junior quarterback Rick Mancuso completed a beautiful 30-yard pitch-and-catch to classmate Mike Fitzgerald, who leaped high into the air before coming down on his back in the end zone.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Engineers orchestrated their best drive of the day by covering 85 yards on nine plays en route to their second touchdown. Brown ignited the attack with strong running between the tackles while senior Ben Grannan capped the drive with a six-yard rush to the left side. Opting for two after the score, rookie quarterback Sean Kelly connected with sophomore Stephen Yablonski in the right corner of the end zone as MIT extended its advantage to 15-0.
Mass Maritime got back in contention early in the second quarter as senior James McFarland hauled in a 10-yard pass from freshman Nick Montalto to cut the deficit to 15-7. Reminiscent of last week’s offensive slugfest, the Engineers responded with a touchdown of their own to push the lead back to 15. Brown capped the 13-play drive with an 18-yard touchdown run.
Late in the second quarter, junior Nick Stralka thwarted MIT’s bid for another score and gave new life to the Buccaneers after intercepting a deflected pass. On the final play of the half, Montalto aimed for the right corner of the end zone, but sophomore Brian Doyle made a terrific interception of his own to end the threat.
Brown supplied the game-breaker for MIT midway through the third quarter. On Tech’s third play of the drive, the junior back broke through the middle, and into open real estate, where he sprinted 69 yards for his second touchdown of the afternoon. The ensuing extra-point upped MIT’s lead to 29-7.
Junior Brandon Payne put the finishing touches on a 16-play, 60-yard drive that chewed up 8:31 on the game clock with the Bucs’ second score of the tilt. The drive pulled Mass Maritime back within 15 and kept the Engineers’ ground game off the field until early in the fourth quarter.
Despite the monster drive, MIT assembled one of its own to seal the win. Driving 70 yards on 13 plays, Grannan found the end zone for the second time with a three-yard run. The Engineers added late insurance as rookie running back Marcel Sanchez broke through the defense for a 30-yard touchdown to close out the scoring.
Brown was easily the day’s top offensive star with MIT’s other backs combining to give the Cardinal and Gray 380 yards on the ground. Mancuso was 4-of-10 for 60 yards and a touchdown as MIT utilized the run-blocking ability of its offensive line to carry the attack.
Montalto finished 10-of-19 for 119 yards and a touchdown in the loss while sophomore Keith Rudolph paced all receivers with four catches and 38 yards. Montalto was just as effective with his legs, using the option en route to a team-high 79 yards rushing on 19 carries. Payne, who led the team with nine total tackles, rushed 10 time for 45 yards and a TD.
The MIT defense was led by Gibson, who closed with a career-high 10 tackles (eight solo), three tackles for loss, a sack, and the first-quarter fumble recovery. The Engineers had eight tackles for loss on the afternoon while senior Steven Nunez had a 42-yard interception return midway through the final frame.