Cardinals see red in landslide defeat

Quarterback George Marinopoulos threw for five touchdowns and the Engineer defense tallied three interceptions to increase their record to 4‒0 after a 41‒7 victory over St. John Fisher College.

Rensselaer received the ball on kickoff and their return brought them to their 34-yard line. On the first play of the drive, RPI running back Dylan Burnett ’22 rushed for eight yards. On second and 2, wide receiver Peter Lombardi ’22 ran an in-route to the center of the field. Lombardi made the catch at the Cardinals’ 44 and ran for four yards before being brought down. After a tackle for a loss on first down, a quick completion to wide receiver Riley Conboy gave the Engineers a first down at the 26. On third and 5, Marinopoulos handed it off to Christian Buckley ’25. The offensive and defensive lines shifted to the right after the snap, allowing Buckley to rush around the left side of the blockers for a gain of 13 yards. Lombardi was set in motion before the snap on first and goal, cutting from right to left. He found space around the line of scrimmage and had enough speed to blow by the defender for the score. The Engineers led 6‒0 with 10:17 remaining in the first quarter after a failed extra point attempt.

The Cardinals began their drive at their 30. On second and 6, quarterback Michael Krafty attempted a 20-yard throw to his receiver, Tysean Sizer, but Engineer defensive back Francis Perry ’22 read the play and picked off the throw.

After unsuccessful drives from both squads, the Engineers started a drive at the Cardinal 39. Their first three downs gained nine yards, bringing them to fourth and 1. A completion to Conboy gave the Engineers a first down at the ten-yard line. On first and goal, Marinopoulos found Lombardi in the endzone for another touchdown. RPI’s lead was extended to 13‒0 with 1:27 to play in the quarter.

On the first play of the next drive, Krafty threw a terrible deep pass—none of his receivers were anywhere close—and an acrobatic Perry made a spectacular catch for his second interception of the game. On first and 10 for the Engineers at the RPI 43, Burnett found a clearing in a swarm of black and white jerseys and ran 19 yards. The first quarter ended 13‒0 with RPI still in possession.

FRANCIS PERRY '22 INTERCEPTS a throw. Andrew Days/The Polytechnic

The Engineers began the second quarter with a first down at the Cardinal 24. A rapid D.J. Palmer ’22 darted past his defender and a perfectly placed throw from Marinopoulos found him in the endzone for the third touchdown. RPI’s lead was 20‒0 with 14:15 to go in the half.

After a turnover on downs by St. John Fisher, RPI regained possession. On first down, some solid blocking opened up a lane for Buckley to run through for 18 yards. The Engineers continued their drive, reaching the Cardinal 49. On second down, a great throw from Marinopoulos was drilled straight into the hands of Deen Ninche ’23 for a gain of 31 yards. The Engineers ended up with second and 1 at the nine-yard line. Marinopoulos faked the handoff to Burnett and looked up to see wide receiver Gil Goldsmith ’23 unmarked in the endzone. The throw was a little high, but Goldsmith wrangled it in with an athletic catch. A 27‒0 lead for RPI with 2:55 left in the half.

The Cardinals tried to make one final push before half-time. With 30 seconds left, St. John Fisher made it near the 50. Second and 10, Krafty threw to his receiver Chris Park. The throw was inaccurate and Park’s outstretched hand tipped it upwards. Engineer defensive back Carlos Davis ’23 was there to collect the stray ball and return the interception down to the Cardinal's 18. With three seconds left in the half, the Engineers were a yard from the endzone. Prior to the snap, Lombardi was set in motion to the left. When he reached Marinopoulos, he cut back to the right. The ball was snapped and Lombardi was able to find a gap near the sideline. He made the catch and leisurely strolled into the endzone for the Engineers’ fifth touchdown of the half. The Engineers went into the locker room with a 34‒0 lead.

The Cardinals began the first drive of the half at their 33. Duvall maneuvered through the throng of bodies, ultimately making it to the RPI 39. Despite the momentum from Duvall’s carry, the RPI defense was too much for the Cardinals to overcome. St. John Fisher was forced to punt.

On second and 7, Marinopoulos handed the ball off to Spencer Merkel ’23. Merkel began his run to the left, but quickly found there was nowhere to go. He cut back to the right and caught the Cardinals off-guard. Merkel made it to the right sideline and was seemingly in the clear. He began to slow down and was tackled with eight yards left to go. An unnecessary roughness call on St. John Fisher on a run granted the Engineers first and goal at the three-yard line. The ball was then handed off to Burnett and he ran into the endzone untouched to extend their lead once more. The Cardinals were down 41‒0 after four minutes of play in the half. St. John Fisher opted to swap out Krafty for Joseph Torrillo.

After a failed drive by the Cardinals, the ball was given back to RPI. The Engineers made their way downfield, making it to the Cardinals 16. On third and 10, Marinopoulos faked the handoff to Buckley and scanned for an Engineer in the endzone. He tried to throw over several Cardinal defenders. It was a poor decision as his pass was picked off on the goal line by defensive back Anthony Manna. The Cardinals went three-and-out on their subsequent drive. The Engineers switched Marinopoulos for Matt Petercuskie ’23. The third quarter ended with the Engineers still on top 41‒0.

Neither team produced on offense until the Cardinals were at second and 21 at the RPI 39 with 2:44 left to play. Torrillo found Sizer downfield which brought them seven yards from scoring. St. John Fisher faced third and goal at the four-yard line. Peyton Nolan was given the handoff and met Nick Popolizio ’23 with three yards to go. Nolan broke the tackle and dove into the endzone for a consolation touchdown. The Cardinals broke their drought for the game, bringing the score to 41‒7.

The Engineers ran out the clock and the game ended with the same score. The victory increased the win streak to four games, bringing the Engineers’ to 4‒0.

Watch RPI TV’s broadcast of the game here.