RPI football ended its regular season with a wire-to-wire win over Capital Region rival Union College in the Dutchman’s Shoes game on Saturday, extending its winning streak against the Dutchmen to three. Six different rushers combined for 191 yards on the ground for the Engineers and senior quarterback Jeff Avery threw for 123 yards and a score en route to a dominant 23-10 victory.
The Engineers started near midfield on their second drive of the game after a short punt by Union punter Tyler Barnes. After a holding penalty on third and two moved the Engineers back ten yards to their own 47, Avery found senior wide receiver Pat Hogan for a gain of 21 yards to move the chains. Later, on third and six at the Union 28 yard line, Avery completed a 12-yard pass near the sideline to senior wide receiver Logan Gaddar. After a holding penalty on Union gave RPI a first and goal from the Union seven yard line, senior running back Nick Schlatz did the rest, carrying the ball down to the one on his first carry and then punching it into the end zone on his second.
Union answered with a long drive of their own. Union quarterback Dante Cioffi completed five passes for 31 yards and the Dutchmen took advantage of an RPI pass interference penalty to move the ball inside the RPI ten. Then Cioffi broke free and scampered down to the Rensselaer two-yard line. On second and goal, Union tailback Connor Kinzelmann took the handoff but was stuffed by junior defensive lineman Connor McCrum and senior linebacker Anthony Pilla at the one-yard line. The stop forced the Dutchmen to kick a field goal and the Engineers kept the lead.
Gaddar returned the subsequent kickoff 35 yards through a gap in the Union coverage to the RPI 45 yard line. Later, a pass interference penalty on the Dutchmen gave the Engineers a first down in territory. Carries by senior running back Matt Lane and sophomore tailback Mike Tivinis moved the ball to the Union 16, setting up a 33-yard field goal by sophomore place kicker Christian Kapp, extending the RPI lead to 9-3.
With less than five minutes remaining in the first half, Union started a drive at their own 45 in hopes of cutting into the Rensselaer lead. But on second down, junior defensive back Ryan Buss stepped in front of a short pass by Cioffi and sprinted 48 yards for an RPI touchdown.
Union put together their best drive of the day on their next possession, driving 68 yards in twelve plays, all passes, and scoring from seven yards out with just six seconds left in the half to close the gap to 16-10 RPI.
At the start of the third, the Dutchmen threatened to take the lead, moving the ball down deep into RPI territory on a 48-yard pass from Cioffi to wide receiver Kyle Reynolds. But, the defense held and Union kicker David Pope missed a 33-yarder.
Towards the end of the third quarter with the score still 16-10, Schlatz burst through an opening in the Union front line for a gain of 30 yards. On the last play of the third, Avery tossed it to senior running back Austin Amery in the flat for a catch and carry of 19 yards.
On the first play of the final quarter, Avery passed to Lane and he ran past a slew of Union tacklers into the end zone to give the Engineers a 23-10 lead.
In the remainder of the fourth quarter, Rensselaer killed the clock with runs from Tivinis and Amery, and held Union to just 39 yards of offense on four possessions, never allowing the Dutchmen past midfield.
Schlatz finished with 92 yards and a score to lead all rushers. Amery led all RPI pass catchers with 45 yards while Reynolds led all receivers with 95 yards and a touchdown for the Dutchmen.
On defense, senior defensive back Philip Lanieri III tallied nine tackles while senior defensive back Brad Gahagan and senior linebacker Mark Grimes each had eight.
The Engineers finished their regular season with a record of 8-2 while the Dutchmen fell to 0-10. Following the win, RPI was selected to play in the Asa S. Bushnell Bowl Championship against Buffalo State University next Saturday, November 21, at home.