Football loses home opener against Curry College
Inconsistent, unimaginative offense sinks Engineers despite four Curry turnovers
MIT played its first home game of the season on Saturday against Curry College. MIT came into this week hoping to double the number of wins from the 2010 season (1-8) following a 51-13 loss to Massachusetts Maritime Academy and a 35-13 win at Becker College. Instead, MIT started with the same 1-2 three-game record as last year. Curry College won using a balanced attack of rushing and passing and overcoming early turnovers with a strong defensive performance.
The Engineers started the game off strong, holding the Colonels first two drives and taking over on their own 37-yard line. After a 63-yard drive, the Engineers scored with 4:32 left in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Justin R. Wallace ’15. The ensuing extra-point kick went far left, showing early signs of special team woes. The point after was missed due to a poor snap — a recurring theme that day for the Engineers. MIT almost had major turnovers on three punts due to high snaps that soared over punter John C. Wenzel ’14’s head.
Curry College did a good job passing for short yardage by quickly sending the ball to the outside, taking advantage of MIT’s issues with keeping close man coverage. Whenever the Colonels tried to pass over the middle, the Engineers’ linebackers were able to intercept the ball.
The Engineers were unable to capitalize on any of the four Curry turnovers, having to punt after every interception. However, Curry had no problem capitalizing on MIT’s mistakes, even putting together a 47-yard touchdown drive after an MIT interception with 12:19 left in the second quarter.
MIT drove on its next possession and was stalled on the 9-yard line. They were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal. Curry again threw an interception when Anthony Carnevale made an overthrown pass over the middle. MIT, unable to put together a scoring drive, was forced to punt again.
Curry made another scoring drive right before halftime with Carnevale finally able to put together a strong passing game, completing four passes for 38 yards. The secondary fell back into protection, preventing blitzes and clogging the defensive line. This allowed for two large rushing gains on 3rd and 10, and with nine seconds left in the half Carnevale found Robert Bambini for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The Engineers were able to go into halftime on a positive note after they blocked the extra point.
The first half was about MIT’s rushing game and Curry’s three interceptions; however, in the second half Curry figured out MIT’s limited play calling and stopped the Engineers’ potent running game. Wenzel was unable to put together anything through passes. The lack of passing by the Engineers turned a close game into a blowout.
To begin the second half, Curry threw its final interception of the game, but MIT was forced to punt down to Curry’s 2-yard line. Although MIT’s defense was unable to push Curry back, the Engineers were able to get an excellent field position after preventing the Colonels’ drive.
MIT made its final scoring drive of the game after running the exact same running play six times. MIT settled for a 26-yard field goal.
The Colonels finally found consistency in their running game, putting large rushing plays against the worn-down MIT defense. The Colonels kept their momentum through rushing; however, in the red zone, they began to rely on their passing. The Colonels threw three straight incomplete passes that caused a few loud Curry fans to scream for the Colonels to return to the run. On a pivotal 4th and 3, Curry was able to convert and complete a 15-yard touchdown pass to put the Colonels up for good.
MIT wasn’t able to put together another scoring drive and punted on each of the subsequent possessions. Curry made one more scoring drive with 2:10 left in the game.
There are a number of areas that MIT needs to improve in order to prevent a similar 1-8 fate as last year. The Engineers had unimaginative play calling, running every play with a no-huddle shotgun position. Every play started with either one running back or a no-back formation. Almost every play in a no-back formation was a quarterback keeper, while the 1-back formation usually indicated a running play to Wallace. By the end of the game, even the fans were yelling out the type of play before the ball was snapped.
MIT also needs to find a consistent passing game. Without a threat of passing, opponents can better protect against the run. The Engineers need to learn how to capitalize on mistakes. Four interceptions and no points on the subsequent drives was the difference-maker in this game. Poor tackling will need to be improved upon in order to prevent strong rushing and to win another game this season. MIT plays next at UMass Dartmouth on Oct. 1, with their next home game Oct. 15 against Western New England University.