Last Saturday, Rensselaer football hosted the St. Lawrence Saints on Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Day at East Campus Stadium. The Engineers’ defense struggled against the plodding Saints offense that ran the ball 47 times for 185 yards and held possession of the football for more than 40 minutes of the game. However, despite over 400 yards of offense for the Saints, Rensselaer’s defense once again stood firm inside its own 20 yard-line, forcing the Saints to kick two short field goals and holding them to just 20 points in the game. This total would be enough, though, as Rensselaer managed just two touchdowns against the formidable Saints defense that stopped RPI on eight of their ten third downs and held the Engineers to just 220 yards.
RPI started out strong with an interception by senior defensive back Ryan Buss, his second pick of the year. Buss intercepted the ball at midfield and returned it to the Saints 25-yard line. This set up a short scoring drive capped off with a two-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore quarterback Ed Trimpert.
The lead was short-lived, though, as the Saints responded with a 13-play, 60-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass from St. Lawrence quarterback Sean Richardson to wide receiver James Holley-Grisham.
Early in the second quarter, St. Lawrence took possession at its own 35-yard line. Running back Rodrick Payne pounded the ball up the middle, rushing five times for seventeen yards, including a nine-yard scamper on third and two at the RPI 12 that set up the go-ahead touchdown rush by Richardson. Richardson also made several key throws during the drive. The most important for St. Lawrence, and the back-breaker for RPI, was a 12-yard completion to receiver Mitch Gallagher on fourth and two at the RPI 32-yard line that gave the Saints a fresh set of downs in the Rensselaer red zone and allowed the Saints to take the lead late in the second quarter.
Just before halftime, Buss forced Payne to fumble and the ball was recovered by Rensselaer junior defensive back Sean Egan who raced 55 yards for what appeared to be the tying touchdown. The score was negated by a Rensselaer penalty, though, and the Saints walked into the locker room with a 14-7 halftime lead.
While the Engineer offense continued to sputter in the second half, the Saints recorded drives of 93 yards, 59 yards, and 57 yards. But they only gained six points from those drives, making the score 20-7 late in the fourth quarter.
With less than five minutes to play, the Engineers faced a fourth and three at their own forty-yard line. Trimpert had struggled most of the game, completing just four of 16 passes up to that point. But he made the most of his 17th pass, firing the ball toward the right sideline to sophomore receiver Keaton Ackermann who sprinted past the Saints secondary for a 60-yard touchdown.
The touchdown made the score 20-14 and gave the Engineers new hope of a comeback. Their hopes were stifled, however, when Richardson and Payne combined for 30 yards rushing and two first downs to run the clock out.
Trimpert finished with 101 yards passing and 83 yards rushing. Ackermann led the Engineers receiving corps with two catches for 72 yards. On defense, senior linebacker Alex Greenidge and junior defensive back Oliver Kaija led Rensselaer with a dozen tackles each, while junior Bryan Hayes tallied 11.
Next up for 2-2 Rensselaer is a road trip to Western New York to take on 1-2 University of Rochester this Saturday, October 1.