MIT Edges Sagehens In 2014 Opener

MIT Edges Sagehens In 2014 Opener

Cambridge, Mass. – The MIT Football team scored on two long touchdown drives on its first two possessions of the second half to stretch a 14-13 halftime lead to 28-13, and held on for a 28-18 win over Pomona-Pitzer in the season opener for both teams on Saturday at Steinbrenner Field. 

The Sagehens begin the year 0-1 after a narrow opening-day loss to MIT for the second year in a row. Last season, the Engineers visited Claremont and came away with a 28-26 win at Merritt Field. 

The loss spoiled a spectacular debut for freshman running back Aseal Birir, who had 190 yards on 23 carries, including a 58-yard touchdown to give the Sagehens an early 7-0 lead. Quarterback Peter Williams was 14-19 for 221 yards and two touchdowns for MIT, while Justin Wallace carried 20 times for 126 yards. 

The Pomona-Pitzer defense came up big twice in the first half, as senior safety Don Swan came up with an interception at the Sagehen 10-yard line to kill one drive in the red zone in the first quarter, and senior cornerback Vince Morgan (pictured) forced a fumble recovered by sophomore linebacker Brian Rauzi at the Pomona-Pitzer seven-yard line to end another threat in the second quarter. 

Swan's interception was followed two plays later by Birir's first career touchdown, a 58-yard scamper up the right sideline. MIT responded with a seven-play drive to tie the score on a two-yard run from Brad Goldsberry.  

On their next drive, the Engineers took the lead after a fortuitous break, as a tipped pass landed in the hands of Nathan Varady for a 16-yard gain on 3rd-and-7. On the next play, quarterback Peter Williams found Samuel Inman for a 29-yard touchdown to make the score 14-7 with 42 seconds left in the first quarter. 

The Sagehens had the better of the play in the second quarter, getting into the red zone twice but settling for two field goals from freshman Kevin Masini. The first was from 30 yards and the second was a 32-yarder on the final play of the half to make the score 14-13 at the break.

Pomona-Pitzer had a long drive on the first possession of the second half, but came up just short on a 4th-and-2 run from Birir at the MIT 11 to turn the ball over on downs. The Engineers then used the momentum and drove 88 yards the other way in 5:53, with Williams scoring himself on a quarterback keeper to make the score 21-13. 

After holding the Sagehens to three and out, MIT tacked on another touchdown with an eight-play, 80-yard drive in 4:06, culminating in a five-yard pass from Williams to Brad Goldsberry on the second play of the fourth quarter, stretching the lead to 28-13.  

Birir had a pair of big runs, including a 38-yarder, to help the Sagehens get a first and goal at the MIT five-yard line, looking to creep back in it. However, the drive stalled there with an MIT sack and Masini kicked his third field goal of the game in three attempts from 27 yards to cut the lead to 28-16 with 8:21 left. Pomona-Pitzer recovered the ensuing onside kick at the MIT 33-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs after four incompletions. 

The Sagehens had a chance on their final drive in the closing minutes, as sophomore quarterback Alex Bresler connected with sophomore tight end Connor Roberts on a quick pass down to the MIT five-yard line to set up a 4th-and-1. Bresler went with a quick quarterback sneak, but was stopped an inch short with 1:12 left on the clock. The Sagehens hemmed MIT inside its five and used all three timeouts, and the Engineers took a deliberate safety with 49 seconds left rather than risk a punt out of their own end zone. MIT then kicked the ball off from its own 20, and Pomona-Pitzer was unable to threaten in the closing seconds. 

As a team, the Sagehens had 266 yards rushing, with freshman Errol Francis adding 42 on eight carries, and Bresler running seven times for 30 yards. Junior wide receiver Jack Pietrykowski had five catches for 70 yards to lead the receiving corps. Junior safety Nelson Cole led the Sagehen defense with 12 tackles, while Brian Friel had nine tackles and a sack. 

Pomona-Pitzer has a week off before returning to action on Saturday, Sept. 20 for its home opener against Rhodes College at 7 p.m.