Engineers break the Mustangs

A four-yard touchdown with 34 seconds remaining secured a victory against Stevenson, bringing the Engineers’ record to 2‒0.

Rensselaer began the game with possession on their 26-yard line. On first down, the Engineers ran a pitch to Peter Lombardi ’22 for a gain of three yards. On the next play, a tightly-marked Lombardi made an impressive catch on a deep pass from RPI quarterback George Marinopoulos, bringing the Engineers to the Mustangs’ 27-yard line. From there, Marinopoulos set up in the shotgun formation. After the snap, Marinopoulos handed it off to running back Delano Munoz Whatts, who cut through an open lane on the left side to get to the 14. Next, Marinopoulos faked the handoff to Munoz Whatts, then threw a pass to Lombardi. After the reception at the 15, Lombardi ran an extra 12 yards to bring the Engineers to first and goal. A one-yard run from Munoz Whatts moved the Engineers to the two-yard line. A defensive pass interference call on Stevenson’s Jacob Baytoff brought the Engineers another yard closer. On third and goal, the Engineers handed it off to Munoz Whatts, who then got tripped up and had his legs taken out from under him, causing a fumble. The Mustangs recovered in the end zone, resulting in a touchback. A squandered opportunity for the Engineers.

On the ensuing drives, both the Mustangs and Engineers were forced to punt. After the Mustangs received the punt, they managed to get two first downs. On third and 8 at the Mustangs’ 26, the Engineers pressured Mustangs quarterback Ryan Sedgwick to leave the pocket, forcing him to make a throw on the run. His pass was tipped and subsequently intercepted by RPI’s Joe Deptula ’22. However, a defensive holding penalty meant Stevenson would continue their drive. On second and 6 at the 50-yard line, Sedgwick handed it off to running back Kevin Joppy, weaving through the RPI defense for a gain of 15. On third and 5, a 15-yard reception to an open Cory Jones brought the Mustangs into the red zone. After a series of penalties and defensive stops, including a sack by Conner Noyes ’23, the Mustangs faced fourth and 23. On this play, RPI’s Conor Ahern ’21 sacked Sedgwick to turn the ball over on downs at the RPI 38. The quarter ended scoreless, with both teams struggling to produce on offense.

The second quarter began with the Engineers at the 50. On third and 12, Marinopoulos passed the ball to Munoz Whatts behind the line of scrimmage. A 20-yard catch and run gave RPI a first down at the 40. Despite Munoz Whatts fighting for yards on rushes, the Engineers failed a fourth and 3 attempt, turning it over on downs.

The Mustangs gained some yardage on first and second down. On third and 3, a lurking Cam Younginer ’22 snatched the ball out of the air for an interception, giving the Engineers the ball at the Mustang 29.

An incompletion on first down was followed by a rush and a reception by Christian Buckley ’25, but these were not enough to earn a first down. On fourth and 4 at the RPI 23, Sterling Walter-Sutton ’23 created separation from his marker and made the catch to continue the drive. A two-yard rush by Buckley brought the Engineers to second and 8 at the 15. A quick pass to Walker-Sutton was caught and he was pushed out, after planting both feet, at the three-yard line. On first and goal, the rush was stopped behind the line of scrimmage. It was second and goal on the three-yard line. Marinopoulos faked the handoff and glanced to his left for a receiver—none open. He quickly darted to his right into the gap in the defense. He was tackled on the goal line, but it was not enough to prevent the score. The extra point was converted by Conor MacDougall ’22. The Engineers led 7‒0 with 6:02 left in the half.

QUARTERBACK GEORGE MARINOPOULOS RUSHES into the end zone for a touchdown. Andrew Days/The Polytechnic

On the following drive, Joppy was carving through the defensive line; two consecutive rushes up the middle brought the Mustangs to their own 49. The Mustangs converted on third and 1, giving them a first down at the Engineer 47. Sedgwick threw a screen to his right to Steven Smothers, who broke several tackles before being brought out of bounds at the 38. With one yard left for a first down, Sedgwick threw another screen to Smothers, this time to his left, for a gain of two yards. On the next set of downs, Joppy ran for a gain and a loss both of three yards. On third and 10, wide receiver Darian Littlejohn ran a slant route into a gap in coverage, making the reception and continuing Stevenson’s momentum. Littlejohn then made another catch upfield on an in route, granting the Mustangs a first down at the 11. A personal foul pushed the Mustangs back to second and 21, but another completion to Littlejohn returned the Mustangs to the 12. A completion to Smothers gained three yards, forcing Stevenson to attempt a field goal on fourth down. Brody Campbell’s 26-yard kick was good, bringing the score to 7‒3 at the half.

The Engineers opted for a squib kickoff to begin the half. The receiver was called down at the 25, but a penalty on RPI granted Stevenson an additional 15 yards. The Mustangs steadily gained yardage, however could not get 10 yards after three downs. On fourth and 1, a QB sneak by Sedgwick was stopped by a solid Engineer defensive line, turning the ball over on downs at the 49. On the first play of the second half for RPI, Munoz Whatts found a gap and ran for eight yards. The next play was, again, a run by Munoz Whatts. He ran through the lane and found daylight, eventually being brought down at the 14 to give the Engineers a new set of downs. On first down, Marinopoulos threw a pass to the end zone which was caught by Vinnie McDonald, however could not stay in bounds: incomplete. A bad snap on second down resulted in a sack by Mario McIntyre for a loss of ten yards. After an incompletion on third and 20, the Engineers went for it instead of kicking the 41-yard field goal. The pressure from the Mustangs forced a bad throw from Marinopoulos, resulting in an incompletion. Another turnover on downs.

On first down, RPI’s CJ Schumaker ’23 and Magnus Wamble beat their blockers and sacked Sedgwick. On third down, Spencer Brockdorff ’23 hit the receiver in the air to force an incompletion. The Mustangs punted on fourth down.

After receiving the punt, the Engineers went three-and-out, giving possession back to the Mustangs. The first two plays were rushes to Joppy resulting in a gain of eight yards. On third and 2, a fake handoff to Joppy opened up tight end Tylor Blake to receive a pass. His reception gave Stevenson a first down at their own 49. Joppy broke through the line on first, rushing up the middle for 16 yards. The Mustangs were not able to get another ten yards, turning it over on downs at the RPI 27. Despite regaining possession, the Engineers again went three-and-out. At the end of the third quarter, the score remained unchanged.

Stevenson began the final quarter on third and 4 at their own 47. A completion to Smothers gave the Mustangs a first down in RPI territory at the 46. An incompletion and a rush that only made it to the line of scrimmage meant the Mustangs faced third and 10. After the snap, Sedgwick felt the pressure from the RPI rushers and escaped to his left before tossing it downfield towards the left sideline. Brockdorff got in front of his man to make the interception.

The Engineers could not get much done on the first three downs and lined up to punt on fourth down. Punter Zac Montrief did not receive the snap cleanly and was brought down at the 19. The Mustangs were handed possession in the red zone on a silver platter.

The first play of the Stevenson drive was a fake handoff followed by a reception by Blake at the 5. On first and goal, a four-yard rush by Joppy brought the Mustangs to the one-yard line. On second down, Joppy was given the handoff again but was not able to gain any yards. Joppy was again given the handoff, this time being met at the goal line by Austin Charles. The referees called that Joppy broke the plane, giving the Mustangs the touchdown. The extra point was good and Stevenson now led 10‒7 with 9:53 left in the game.

After a combined four unsuccessful drives, RPI started a drive on their 43 with 3:33 remaining. The Engineers started picking up steam, gaining yardage completion after completion. With 1:54 remaining on the Mustangs’ 41, the Engineers faced third and 6. Walker-Sutton found enough space on a corner route to make an easy reception for ten yards. On the next play, a completion to Gil Goldsmith ’23 granted the Engineers another first down. A late flag for roughing the passer moved the line of scrimmage to the 12 with 1:43 left to go. On first down, a rush by Lombardi gained no yardage and kept the clock running. Marinopoulos then threw to an open D.J. Palmer ’22 who reached the four-yard line. The clock kept ticking. The ball was then snapped with 37 seconds left. An unmarked linebacker ran at top speed with Marinopoulos in his sights. Before getting hit, Marinopoulos tossed a lob to Munoz Whatts. After the catch, he darted into the corner of the end zone for the score. Rensselaer took the lead with 33.6 seconds remaining.

On the last play of the game, Sedgwick threw a Hail Mary downfield. The pass was picked off by Carlos Davis ’23 to cement the victory for the Engineers. The 14‒10 win brings the Engineers’ record to 2‒0 on the season.