Engineers come alive against Norwich University

THE ENGINEERS GRABBED a 31-17 lead over the Norwich University Cadets during their first game of the season last Saturday. They will play Alfred University this coming Saturday.

The RPI Engineers football team opened their 2016 season with a road game at Norwich University in Vermont. After Norwich scored a field goal early in the second quarter, Rensselaer scored 24 unanswered points to take a commanding 21-point lead, which they did not relinquish. The final score of the game was Engineers 31, Cadets 17.

With 12 minutes remaining in the first half, senior defensive back Ryan Buss intercepted a pass by Norwich quarterback Philippe Bazinet and ran it back to the Norwich 48-yard line. On the ensuing drive, junior running back Ethan Wells rushed twice for a total of 24 yards, setting up a 47-yard field goal by junior kicker Christian Kapp.

On the next kickoff, junior defensive back Oliver Kaija made a terrific tackle on Norwich returner Dayvon Medina to pin the Cadets deep in their territory. Then, after a Norwich three and out, a short punt gave the Engineers great field position at the Norwich 43. This time junior running back Mike Tivinis took over, carrying the ball four times on the drive for 32 yards. Junior running back Johnny Ramsdell capped off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run to put the Engineers up 10-3.

Norwich’s offense stalled after only three plays again on its next drive, and Rensselaer earned an even better field position after a 12-yard return by sophomore wideout Conor Davies put them at the Cadets’ 32-yard line. Three running plays later, the last four-yard rush by Wells positioned the Engineers up 17-3.

Early in the second half, RPI junior defensive back Sean Egan intercepted Bazinet’s pass near the sideline and ran it back 15 yards for a third Rensselaer touchdown.

Norwich found the end zone on its following two possessions to trim the lead to 24-17 RPI. The first successful scoring attempt was an 11-yard pass from Bazinet to wide receiver Pierre Noel. The second was a 36-yard rushing score by freshman running back Patrick Brown, who compiled 117 yards on 19 carries, including 87 yards on the Cadets’ two scoring drives.

Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, junior defensive back Bryan Hayes picked off Bazinet at the Norwich 38 yard-line and returned it inside the 30. Just over a minute later, Tivinis punched the rock into the endzone from two yards out to give RPI a two-score lead that they would retain for the final 13 minutes of the game.

Tivinis led Rensselaer with 22 rushing attempts for 110 yards and Ramsdell led the Engineers with one catch for 31 yards. While Brown led the Cadets with 117 rushing yards, he tied with Noel for a game-high of 53 yards.

Senior linebacker Alex Greenidge tallied nine tackles, while junior linebacker Brandt Beck got eight. For the Cadets, defensive backs Tyler Oppelt and Derek Lotito each had eight as well.

Next up for the 1-0 Engineers is their first home game of the season on Saturday, September 10, against the Alfred University Saxons.