RPI closed out its final game of the season at home with a 31-24 loss to the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The win marks the first for the Mariners in Troy since 1960. The Engineers end the year with a 4-5 overall record, including a 3-3 Liberty League mark, while Merchant Marine moves to 3-7 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
Merchant Marine quickly placed on the scoreboard off a 14-play, 77-yard drive at 7:48 of the first quarter. Junior quarterback Alex Coviello connected with sophomore wide receiver Chase Dunn on a 21-yard pass for the score.
Rensselaer responded on its next possession, bringing the ball down to the Mariners’ 13-yard line. Although RPI was unable to score a touchdown, the Engineers set up freshman kicker Andrew Franks for a 29-yard field goal.
Just before the end of the first quarter, Coviello nailed Dunn with a 79-yard pass, who then broke through several tackles to make his way into the RPI end zone. Senior kicker Richard Grennen easily made the point-after to give the Mariners a 14-3 lead.
Grennen added a 35-yard field goal at 11:47 of the second quarter to increase Merchant Marine’s lead to 17-3. The Engineers tried for another field goal with just over a minute remaining in the first half, but Frank’s 39-yard attempt into the wind soared just wide of the goal post.
Just before the end of the first half, the Mariners concluded a 78-yard drive that took a mere 40 seconds with another touchdown. Coviello connected with sophomore Connor Kennedy with 28 seconds left in the first half to give the visitors a 24-3 advantage.
Senior quarterback Mike Hermann notched the Engineers’ first touchdown of the day after breaking through the Mariners’ defense with a 62-yard scoring run. The two-play drive lasted only 31 seconds, with Franks making the point-after to cut the deficit down to 24-10. Although senior Kevin Frame was able to block Grennen’s field goal attempt on Merchant Marine’s next possession, the Engineers were unable to score when they regained control of the ball, giving it up on downs.
The Mariners opened the fourth and final quarter with another touchdown to gain a 31-10 advantage over Rensselaer. Junior John-Leon Gosselin rushed for 44 yards, including a two-yard effort in a fourth-and-one situation.
Hermann was able to pull the Engineers within 14 with his second touchdown of the game at 5:26, including a 32-yard pass to junior wideout Steven Burpoe, who brought the ball to the 8-yard line. Senior Bryan Carmody blocked a punt attempt by Grennen on the Mariners’ next possession, where it was recovered by RPI junior Dustin Schuld in the end zone for a touchdown.
Down only by seven points, Rensselaer attempted an onside kick, but saw Merchant Marine recover the ball and seal the victory with a first down.
Hermann finished 23-of-37 for the Engineers with 229 yards passing. In addition, Hermann ran a team-high 135 yards on 14 carries, including two touchdowns. Burpoe added another 101 yards receiving on eight catches, while sophomore Reggie Colas had five receptions for 52 yards. Defensively, junior Matthew Day posted a game-high 13 tackles, while sophomore Ted Abriel had 11 stops of his own. Coviello finished 5-of-7 with 164 yards thrown and 25 carries for 135 yards. Gosselin also had 25 carries for 208 rushing yards and a touchdown.
The Engineers will have much to look forward to next season after a rebuilding year. Backed by Head Coach Tim Landis, Rensselaer will be better prepared for the upcoming seasons after taking the time to adapt to the new coaching staff.