CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Hosting Pomona-Pitzer College in a return game from a year ago, the MIT football team erased an early lead by the Sagehens to take a 28-18 win in the 2014 season opener for both squads. Senior Brad Goldsberry (Elizabeth, Colo.) scored a pair of touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground, to help the Engineers win their season opener for a fifth straight year.
After the two teams traded punts to start the contest, MIT (1-0) looked to be driving for the first score of the game when senior Peter Williams (Portland, Ore.) saw his pass attempt intercepted by senior Don Swan (Gold Beach, Ore.), who returned it 24 yards to the Pomona 34. One play later freshman Aseal Birir (Novato, Calif.) broke free down the right side for a 58-yard score to put the Sagehens on top 7-0.
MIT answered on the next drive, however, tying the game with a six-play, 70-yard effort that saw Goldsberry take it in from two yards out to tie it a 7-7 with 5:47 left in the opening quarter. The Engineers then halted the next drive by Pomona-Pitzer (0-1) when senior Laith Maswadeh (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and sophomore Kevin Kusch (Mobile, Ala.) stopped Birir on a fourth-down play. Six plays later Williams found junior Samuel Inman (Stilwell, Okla.) open down the right side for a 29-yard score to give the Engineers their first lead of the afternoon.
Pomona-Pitzer scored the only points of the second quarter, getting a pair of field goals from freshman Kevin Masini (Ann Arbor, Mich.) that capped long drives by the Sagehens. His second finished off both a 14-play, 79-yard drive and the second quarter has his 32-yard attempt sailed through the uprights to close the half and make it a one-point game at 14-13.
After Maswadeh stopped Birir on a fourth-down play on Pomona-Pitzer's first drive of the second half, MIT went 88 yard in 13 plays to increase its lead as Williams ran it in from four yards out with 5:27 on the clock to make it 21-13. The Engineers then forced a three-and-out on the next drive by the Sagehens, taking over at their own 20 after a punt. Williams then led the Engineers down the field, completing all four of his pass attempts for 60 yards, with his final completion to Goldsberry from five-yards out for a 28-13 advantage with 14:36 left in the game.
Pomona-Pitzer came back on its next drive, with Masini capping the 65-yard effort with his third field goal of the game, this time from 27 yards out to cut the Engineers lead to 28-16 with 8:21 left. With under five minutes to play the Sagehens drove from their own 25 all the way down to the MIT 5 where they faced fourth-and-one. Sophomore quarterback Alex Bresler (Chicago, Ill.) tried to get the first down himself up the middle, but Kusch and freshman Mitch Turley (Westfield, Ind.) stopped him cold, giving the ball back to MIT with 1:12 to go.
Pomona's defense held and the Sagehens used their timeouts to force an MIT punt attempt, but Williams took the snap and stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety. Pomona-Pitzer got the ball on its own 38 after the free kick, but four straight incompletions by Bresler ended any hopes for the Sagehens.
Senior Justin Wallace (Palatine, Ill.) rushed for 126 yards on 20 carries to lead the MIT ground attack. Birir was impressive in his collegiate debut, gaining 190 yards on 23 carries with one score. Williams completed 14 of 19 passes for 221 yards and two scores, while Bresler was 18-for-39 for 147 yards.
MIT will remain home for its next contest, with the Engineers hosting Becker College on September 13 at 1:00 p.m. Pomona-Pitzer will return to California where the Sagehens will host Rhodes College on September 20 at 7:00 p.m. in its home opener.