Football drops third straight home game to begin the season

DeNucci ’19 racks up an interception and a forced fumble to keep MIT in the game

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Tremaan A. Robbins ’17 and other players took a knee as a sign of protest during the anthem before last weekend's game against Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Lenny Martinez–The Tech

Having dropped two home games to begin the season, the MIT Engineers were seeking their first victory against the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers. However, five turnovers by MIT proved too big an obstacle to overcome as MIT suffered a 31-10 defeat to begin the season 0-3.

MIT got off to a bright start. After forcing a 3-and-out, the Cardinal and Grey drove down field and capped of its first drive with a 25-yard field goal converted by Tucker Cheyne ’17.

The first quarter ended with the scored tied at 3, with QB Udgam Goyal ’19 having completed 6 of 6 passes and MIT in RPI territory.

Unfortunately, it was mostly downhill from there as RPI ran back the first of 4 interceptions thrown by Goyal for a TD. It did not help that Chenye missed a 25-yard field goal. Despite a forced fumble recovered by LB Andrew DeNucci ’19, Goyal’s second interception of the half meant MIT went into halftime trailing 10-3.

The second half was punctuated by two more interceptions and lost fumbles by RB John Robertson ’20. For those cheering on the Engineers from the newly built bleachers at the Steinbrenner stadium, DeNucci provided yet another moment of magic taking back an interception for 46 yards to set the offense with 1st-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Robertson redeemed himself, rushing in MIT’s first TD of the day and drawing them to within 14 points with 8:10 left to play in the 4th-quarter.

Late rallies have been a pattern for MIT football this season, as the home fans cheered in hope of a third straight legitimate chance at a come-from-behind victory. However, RPI scored soon to seal the game 31-10, ending a roller-coaster game for the MIT Engineers and the RPI Engineers. Quarterback Goyal finished the game 18-32 on passing covering 200 passing yards, but the running plays of RPI got the better of MIT as they collected 243 productive rushing yards over MIT’s 141.

Prior to kickoff during the national anthem DB Tremaan Robbins ’17, DL Ben Bennington ’20, and RB Adis Ojeda ’19 knelt as a sign of protest. This is in keeping with a tradition started by San Francisco 49ers’ backup QB Colin Kaepernick.

Robbins explained, “We are not protesting anything at MIT but the culture of living in a bubble and not having enough discussions on the racial inequality across the country. I just want people in the MIT community to know that minority students face more than just psets. I am trying to start race/diversity discussions with football/rest of varsity athletic.”

He went on to add, “Both head coach Martinovich and my teammates have been very supportive. Although coach differs in opinion with me he supported my right to kneel.”

MIT football, still looking for their first season win, will head on the road for the first time this season to face off with Maine Maritime Academy on Sept. 24.