Rensselaer defense thwarts Worcester offense

Engineers reclaim Transit Trophy with 27-6 victory in first night home game in three years

GRADUATE STUDENT RUNNING BACK REGGIE COLAS ESCAPES multiple tackles into the end zone to score the first touchdown in the Engineers’ 27-6 victory.

On Saturday, September 27, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hosted rival Worcester Polytechnic Institute for the annual Transit Trophy game. RPI had a lot of support, as the stands were packed cheering for a victory. Saturday’s game marked RPI’s first league game of the season. RPI entered Saturday’s game with two wins and one loss, the loss being to rival Alfred University. WPI entered the game with one win and two losses. The RPI Engineers found themselves on top of this meeting, defeating WPI 27-6.

This game marked the 108th meeting between the two competitors, with competitive history dating back to November 3, 1894. In the first contest between these opponents, WPI got the better of RPI, winning 4-0. The all-time series is led by RPI 56-46-5. At home RPI leads the series 33-18-3. The Transit Trophy began in 1979 when the teams’ athletic directors decided to create a trophy to honor the winner, every year, of the long standing rivalry between the two teams. A transit was decided as the trophy because both schools have dominant engineering curriculums.

The RPI Engineers had an impressive day on the ground producing 235 rushing yards. As a whole, RPI’s offense was able to muster a combined 292 yard of offense. RPI’s defense did not fall short this game limiting WPI to only 235 yards of total offense. The RPI Engineers running defense was practically flawless only allowing 26 rushing yards.

Junior quarterback Jeff Avery contributed to the ground game rushing for 55 yards, averaging 3.2 yards per carry. RPI’s passing game wasn’t as strong as its rushing game as Avery had just five completions on 14 attempts. Graduate student Reggie Colas was Avery’s favorite target with two receptions for 24 yards. Freshman standout Mike Tivinis had an impressive day on the ground rushing for 61 yards on 12 carries, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Not far behind was junior running back Nick Schlatz rushing for 45 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

Junior Brandon Cook helped lead the RPI defensive front contributing five tackles, four of which were solo-tackles. The engineers secondary had an impressive night causing four interceptions from senior Nick Borkowski, junior Philip Lanieri III, and sophmore Greg Abare.

As the game began, both teams couldn’t produce any offense as both teams defenses proved their dominance. However, with 4:48 left in the quarter the RPI Engineers got the ball back on their own 21 after a failed fourth down attempt by WPI. Avery marched the Rensselaer down to the Worcester 34-yard line. After being stopped on third down, RPI decided to attempt a 51-yard field goal attempt by the Senior All-American Andrew Franks. Franks drilled the field goal right between the uprights, beating his previous field goal distance and school record of 50 yards. Franks gave the Engineers a three nothing lead.

After nine minutes of exchanged possession, Abare intercepted a pass from WPI and brought the ball back to the WPI 8-yard line. After failing to produce a touchdown RPI opted to kick a field goal from the WPI 7-yard line. Franks scored again kicking a 24-yard field goal, giving RPI a six to nothing lead. With 1:34 left on the clock, RPI regained possession and began to drive down the field. After an illegal blocking penalty, it seemed as if RPI would have to settle for another field goal; however, with six seconds left, Avery found Colas streaking to the pylon for a touchdown. RPI lead WPI at the half 13 to nothing.

The Engineers started the second half strong as Tivinis found the end-zone with 9:54 left in the half, giving RPI a 20 to nothing lead. The Rensselaer defense showed their strength thwarting all WPI attempts to move the ball. WPI brought the ball to the RPI 8-yard line until the defense came together to cause them to turn the ball over on fourth down.

RPI’s defense had their first hiccup as WPI was finally able to get some points on the board when they scored with 10:39 left in the game. After WPI missed the extra point attempt, RPI still lead 20-6. Rensselaer came firing back scoring again although they already had all but finalized a victory. Tivinis found his second touchdown of the game scoring with 3:07 left into the game. The game ended with the Institute leading 27-6.

Rensselaer travels to United States Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday to continue Liberty League play and then returns to East Campus Athletic Village to play St. Lawrence for homecoming weekend.