The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers football team powered past the Castleton State Spartans to a 23-8 victory on Saturday, September 21. Riding on a record setting defense, the Engineers improved to 3-0 following this
week’s exhibition game.
RPI held the Spartans scoreless throughout the first three quarters, allowing only six first downs. This strong defense was led by senior defensive lineman Ted Abriel with a team-high nine tackles, five unassisted, along with 2 sacks. Another member of the Engineers’ defense who contributed along with Abriel included fellow senior defensive lineman Arthur Kuyan, with 3.5 tackles and two sacks. This defense gave up minus-42 yards rushing—a new record for RPI Football.
The Engineers chalked up a safety against the Spartans during the first quarter, when a Castleton punter stepped inside the end zone after a bad snap. The RPI offense broke through in the second quarter with just over five minutes remaining. Senior running back Andrew Armato scored for a touchdown on the left side of the end zone on an eight yard run. Junior kicker Andrew Franks followed up the touchdown with a clean kick to score the extra point. This gave the Engineers a 9-0 lead. Following up this score with a second touchdown in the quarter, sophomore quarterback Jeff Avery hit senior tight end Joe Cozzolino who went untouched into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. This throw for Avery was his first touchdown at the collegiate level. Franks scored a second successful extra point, bringing the RPI lead to 16-0 at the half.
After an uneventful third quarter, the Rensselaer defense continued to dominate the Spartans leading to multiple three-point conversions. After a mere five seconds, Avery threw to sophomore wide receiver Logan Gaddar who made a one-handed catch for the 22-yard touchdown. This was Gaddar’s first collegiate touchdown. Franks went 3-3 with a third successful extra point kick.
As the clock ran down in the fourth quarter, Castleton’s offense was finally able to make a run at the Engineers’ defense. However, in order for the Spartans to score, they illustrated just how strong the RPI defense was in the game. The Spartans ran eleven consecutive plays inside the Rensselaer 5-yard line without scoring. During this period, there were three penalties called against the Engineers, but they were able to keep Castleton from capitalizing on these until the twelfth play, when Michael Toczko completed a one-yard touchdown. The Spartans were then successful with their attempt at an extra two points, leading to a score of 23-8 with less than a minute remaining. The Engineers than took a knee when gaining possession leading to a final of that score in their favor.
The Engineers open their Liberty League season next Saturday, traveling to WPI in Worcester, MA to compete for the Transit Trophy. Kickoff is at 1 pm.
Speaking on his team’s success this week and next week’s prospects after the game, Abriel said, “We’ve done what we’re supposed to so far and I think we have the right approach because we are taking things one week at a time and not looking forward. WPI will be a great challenge for us and we will need to have a solid week of practice to be ready for those guys.” The game will be broadcast on WRPI-FM 91.5, with live stats available on RPI Athletics’ website.