Engineers rally for win against Yellowjackets

RPI football overcomes 11-point deficit in third quarter to earn 28-24 victory over University of Rochester

SENIOR RUNNING BACK TJ STRUNK PERFORMS some fancy footwork to trick his opposition during the Engineers’ 28-24 win over the University of Rochester on Saturday afternoon.

Following a devastating 34-31 loss last week in the annual Transit Trophy game, the football team rallied to a 28-24 victory over the University of Rochester on Saturday afternoon. The Engineers are now an even 2-2 on the season, including a Liberty League record of 1-1. The Rochester Yellowjackets drop to 1-3 overall, with a 0-2 conference mark.

Both teams scored a touchdown in the first quarter and failed to place on the scoreboard in the second. Heading into the second half tied at seven-all, the Yellowjackets exploded in the third quarter with 17 points to RPI’s six. Despite the steep deficit, the Engineers never gave up, collecting 15 points in the final quarter to earn the victory.

Rochester jumped to an early lead in the first quarter as graduate student running back Clarence Onyiriuka cut through the RPI defense to score on a seven-yard run. Two possessions later, the Engineers evened the score off a 65-yard, four-play series that ended in the first of two rushing touchdowns on the day for junior quarterback Mike Hermann.

Rensselaer nearly took the lead in the second quarter, but freshman kicker Andrew Franks’ attempt from the 34-yard line for a field goal went just wide of the goalpost, keeping the game tied at seven heading into halftime.

In what was an evenly-matched game thus far, the Yellowjackets rallied for a 17-point third quarter, while keeping the RPI offense limited to only six points. A one-yard drive by Onyiriuka gave the visitors a 14-7 lead. Although Hermann connected with junior wideout Austin Caswell on a fourth down for a 32-yard reception, Franks missed the point-after-touchdown attempt to keep Rensselaer behind 14-13.

The next series saw Onyiriuka rush a total of 16 yards to bring the Yellowjackets to the RPI 17-yard line. Two passes by senior quarterback Braezen Subick gave the visitors a 21-13 advantage. The final Rochester score of the game came with just 39 seconds left in the quarter as junior Alex Antonucci nailed a 42-yard field goal to make it a 24-13 match.

Trailing by 11 points, Hermann weaved through the Rochester defenders in the opening seconds of the fourth and final quarter to score on a 59-yard run. The Engineers opted for the two-point conversion and were able to cut the deficit down to 24-21 on another Hermann rush. Rensselaer regained possession after a three-and-out by the Yellowjackets, which helped to set up RPI’s next score. Hermann connected with Caswell on a 41-yard pass with 3:22 remaining in the game, giving the Engineers a 28-24 lead. The defense was able to keep Rochester at bay in the final minutes of play, giving Rensselaer the victory.

Hermann finished 15-for-31 with 218 passing yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. In addition, he ran for a game-high of 110 yards. Caswell posted six catches for a career-best 139 yards, while adding two touchdowns to the scoreboard. For the Yellowjackets, Subick finished 19-of-33 with 260 yards, while Onyiriuka had 24 carries for 73 yards. Sophomore linebacker Zac Borrelli led RPI with nine tackles—including five solo takedowns—while junior safety Joe Tedder also posted nine tackles and a 37-yard return.

The Engineers remain home at the East Campus Stadium this weekend with a matchup against Utica College on Saturday. Opening kickoff is set for 1 pm.