MIT Football Upends Maine Maritime in Season Opener, 42-39
Sept. 6, 2008
PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Maritime Academy Mariners and the MIT Engineers scored on seven straight possessions in the second half before MIT pulled out the victory on its last drive and 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The game featured 874 yards of total offense and some outstanding performances by both teams while the Engineers were victorious in the first-ever meeting between the two schools, 42-39.
MIT junior DeRon Brown and senior Robert Utz were outstanding in the win, combining for 236 yards and three touchdowns to pace an excellent ground attack. Brown paced all carriers by rushing for a career-high 184 yards on 28 carries and scoring two touchdowns. Utz, who sprinted seven yards for the game-winning score, closed with 52 yards on 14 carries.
Junior quarterback Rick Mancuso, who returned to the lineup after missing the entire 2007 campaign, converted 18-of-27 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Mancuso’s top target on the afternoon was senior wide receiver Kevin Vogelsang, who finished the day with eight catches for 75 yards and a touchdown.
The Engineers got on the board first, scoring on their second drive of the game as Mancuso threw a two-yard strike to tight end Thomas Franklin in the back of the end zone to put MIT up 6-0. Peter Gilliland, who enjoyed an extraordinary day of versatility, converted the first of his four extra-point attempts to cap the drive and push the score to 7-0.
Maine Maritime answered back on its next possession when Tyler Angell hit Alex Coulombe for a 43-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the drive. The ensuing extra-point attempt was blocked by William Vega-Brown, which kept MIT in front. The Engineers went three-and-out on their next possession and turned the ball back over to the Mariners, who marched 76 yards down the field before Jonathan Farrin ended the drive with a five-yard run into the end zone. Jim Bower converted the two-point conversion from the ground to push the MMA lead to 14-7.
MIT bounced right back and scored with 1:32 left in the half when Mancuso hooked up with Kevin Vogelsang in the back corner of the end zone from 18 yards out. The Mariners got the ball back with 43 seconds to go in the half at their own 47-yard line and proceeded to score again before the end of the half. The MMA offense worked the ball down to the MIT 16-yard line with 6.2 seconds left on the clock when Angell connected with Coulombe for a touchdown at the horn.
The second half turned into a track meet as the teams combined for 46 points. At one point in the half, the Mariners and Engineers exchanged blows by scoring on seven straight possessions to keep the fans on the edge of their seats.
The Engineers answered MMA’s half-closing score by finding the end zone on their first possession of the stanza when Brown ran the ball off of the right tackle from one-yard out. The drive consumed over eight minutes and took 14 plays before Gilliland converted his third extra point of the afternoon to tie the score at 21.
The Mariners responded quickly, taking only four plays to score on a 51-yard hookup between Angell and sophomore wide out Josh Elwell. Brennan missed his second extra point of the afternoon which left the Mariners up by six. Ben Grannan capped an eight-play, 69-yard drive on MIT’s next possession with a four-yard touchdown run to reclaim the lead for the Engineers.
Trailing 28-27, Maine Maritime once again responded with a long drive of its own. Bower’s rush from one-yard out finished off a 10-play, 76-yard drive and put the Mariners ahead by five points.
Keeping the pace hot, the Engineers once again scored on their next possession as Brown scampered in from 21 yards out to put MIT back on top, 34-33. Looking to extend their lead, the two-point conversion pass failed as Mancuso threw an incomplete pass intended for Grannan.
MMA refused to yield and forced MIT to orchestrate another drive after Bower rushed off the right guard from and found pay dirt for the second time on the afternoon with a seven-yard carry into the end zone. Trailing by five, MIT delivered the final blow on the afternoon as they capped off a late rally with Utz running the ball in from the MMA seven-yard line with 30 seconds left in regulation. The ensuing two–point conversion was good and the three-point lead would be enough to ice the game for the Engineers.
MMA outgained MIT, 470-404 in total offense, but MIT dominated time of possession. Tech’s defense was led by linebackers Peter Gilliland and defensive back Kevin Foley, who had nine tackles each. In addition to pacing the defensive unit, Gilliland punted twice for an average of 39.5 yards, had seven kick-offs and closed 4-of-4 on PAT’s. The rookie from Grand Ledge, Mich., also made an interception on the final play of the game.