The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football team scored on each of its first three possessions for a 21-0 lead and the Engineers were never challenged as they defeated No. 17/19 Ithaca College 38-12 in a Liberty League game at East Campus Stadium. RPI, which caused two first quarter turnovers, improve to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the conference, while the Bombers drop to 7-2 and 4-2.
The Engineers began the game with the ball after Ithaca won the toss and deferred. Following a 25-yard kickoff return by Delano Munoz Whatts, Rensselaer marched 68 yards on eight plays – five rushing – with the series ending when junior George Marinopoulos found Marc Meislahn inside the 10 yard line. The senior receiver broke two tackles before lunging over the goal line in the front left corner of the end zone at the 10:40 mark.
Sophomore defensive back Blake Battle got the ball back for Rensselaer on Ithaca's first series when he ripped the ball from a receiver at the RPI 45 yard line. Four plays later, sophomore receiver Peter Lombardi took a direct snap, ran to his left and cut the ball up for a 1-yard touchdown with 5:52 to play in the opening quarter. Sophomore Cole McGrath caused a fumble at the Ithaca 34-yard line on the ensuing kickoff return and RPI cashed it in four plays later. Munoz Whatts rushed for 17 yards on the first two plays and then caught a 9-yard pass from Marinopoulos to get the ball to the 13-yard line. An Ithaca pass interference put the ball on the two yard line and Munoz Whatts finished the series on the next play and 3:05 showing on the clock.
Junior Sanjay Krishnan pushed Rensselaer's lead to 24-0 with a 33-yard field goal with 3:16 to go in the first half. The teams then traded punts with the Engineers' giving Ithaca the ball at their own 34-yard line with 46 seconds to play in the half. A 13-yard completion was followed by a holding call for a 1st-and-20 from the Ithaca 37-yard line. RPI junior linebacker Joe Deptula intercepted a Joe Germinerio pass at midfield with 26 seconds left and the Engineers capitalized when Marinopolous found Vinnie McDonald in the end zone with one second remaining. McDonald, a 6-4 sophomore, boxed out and out-jumped the defender to secure the 17-yard pass and a 31-0 lead at the break.
Ithaca got on the board when Germinerio connected from five yards out with Will Gladney, who made a leaping catch in the front right of the end zone. The two-point conversion failed for a 31-6 margin. The drive, which covered 71 yards in 15 plays, was the best of the day for the Bombers.
Marinopoulos found Meislahn in the back of the end zone from six yards away five minutes into the fourth quarter for a 38-6 advantage but Germinerio and Gladney hooked up again on the next series, this time from 21 yards out down the left sideline, to make it 38-12.
Marinopoulos missed on only two passes in the game, finishing 16 of 18 for 175 yards and three touchdowns. He was not intercepted. Meislahn had five receptions for 90 yards and the two scores, while McDonald finished with 40 yards on two catches. Nine different receivers caught passes for the Engineers, who had a 345-294 advantage in total offense. Sophomore Dylan Burnett led the ground game with 36 yards on 11 carries, while Joe Scaglione, also a sophomore, went for 33 yards on eight attempts. They were two of eight ball carriers.
Senior linebacker John Sadak led RPI's defense, which held the Bombers to only 46 yards rushing on 29 attempts. He had eight stops (3 solo), while classmate Grant Tragni made seven (4 unassisted). Rensselaer registered four sacks, including 0.5 from Amaechi Konkwo. The junior defensive lineman also had five tackles, including one unassisted, two for lost yards (20), a forced fumble and two pass breakups.
Ithaca's defense was led by linebacker Nick Garone, who had 16 tackles (6 solo), and Michael Roumes and Miles Haynes, who had eight apiece.
Germinerio was the top rusher for the Bombers with 25 yards on 15 attempts. Under center he was 22 of 37 for 248 yards and the two touchdowns. He was intercepted twice. Gladney had 11 catches for 121 yards and Andrew Vito added six receptions for 81 yards.
Ithaca finishes the regular season against SUNY Cortland in the Cortaca Jug Game next Saturday (1pm), while the Engineers travel to Union College for the Dutchman Shoes Trophy Game (12pm).