Massachusetts Institute of Technology scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the game last Saturday against Rensselaer to take an early 7-0 lead. But that was the last time the visiting team would set foot in the RPI end zone, as the Engineers’ defense quickly ground the opposing offense to a halt and held them in check the rest of the way. The Rensselaer offense played well, scoring touchdowns on each of its first three drives en route to a six touchdown game. RPI won by a final count of 42-7 in the first ever meeting of the two teams and improved its record to 2-1.
MIT quarterback Danny Callahan completed all four of his passes for 71 yards on the first drive of the afternoon, finishing off with a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Seve Esparrago. RPI senior quarterback Jeff Avery responded by hitting an open junior wide receiver Joey Giacone in stride for a pickup of 47 yards on his first throw of the game. Four plays later he found senior wideout Logan Gaddar open in the corner of the MIT end zone for a 14-yard score.
Sophomore running back Mike Tivinis gashed the visiting Engineers’ front seven, piling up 79 yards on 22 touches for the afternoon, and scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, to give RPI a 21-7 edge after fifteen minutes of action.
The RPI defense played stout in the remaining 55 minutes of the game, surrendering just 33 rushing yards on 27 MIT carries. Senior linebacker Mark Grimes had seven combined tackles while senior defensive backs Teague Florio and Philip Lanieri III each had five. Junior lineman Malik Joseph recorded three tackles including the lone sack of the game for the RPI defense. In addition, the secondary yielded just 14 completions on 38 passing attempts for 102 yards to opposing quarterbacks. Freshman defensive back DJ Stefonsky and sophomore defensive back Brandt Beck each recorded interceptions. Beck’s interception setup RPI at the MIT eight-yard line with 2:15 remaining in the second quarter and lead to a five-yard receiving score for senior running back Matt Lane that put the home team ahead 28-7 heading into halftime.
Rensselaer scored two more touchdowns, one in each quarter, to round out the scoring. In the third quarter, Avery found sophomore running back Johnny Ramsdell cutting across the middle for a 23-yard touchdown.
In the fourth, with the game all but out of reach, RPI took advantage of a poor punt by MIT to score its sixth and final touchdown. Avery completed a 12-yard pass on fourth and twelve to give RPI a first down inside the visitors’ 20. Freshman running back Hunter Costlow ended the drive on the next play with a powerful 19-yard burst down the left side, driving past a would-be tackler into the end zone for the score.
Avery finished with 252 yards and three touchdowns passing and added 24 yards rushing. In addition to Tivinis, sophomore running back Ethan Wells carried the ball nine times for 41 yards and Ramsdell took two totes for 33 yards. At receiver, Gaddar led the way with five grabs for 64 yards and a score, while Giacone snagged one ball for 47 yards and Lane caught three more for 34 and a touchdown.
Next up for 2-1 Rensselaer is the Transit Trophy game against undefeated rival Worcester Polytechnic Institute next Saturday in Worcester, Massachusetts.