Engineers continue undefeated season

No. 25 Rensselaer defeated Buffalo State 24‒16 to bring their record to 6‒0 on the season and 2‒0 in the Liberty League.

Buffalo State began the contest with possession but went three-and-out on their first drive and sent out Ethan Fox to punt. The Engineers put heavy pressure on Fox, which resulted in a low 30-yard punt, giving Rensselaer possession back at their own 39. The Engineers steadily advanced, ultimately facing fourth and 1 at the Bengal 19. On the play, quarterback George Marinopoulos (Gr) lobbed a pass downfield towards slot receiver Peter Lombardi ’22. When he reached the end zone, Lombardi cut back to create separation from his defender and made the catch for the score. Kicker Conor MacDougall ’22 knocked down the extra point to give the Engineers a 7‒0 lead with 9:37 left in the quarter.

The Bengals came right back upfield but faced fourth and 4 at the Engineer 30. Quarterback Cam Sionko was immediately rushed by an Engineer lineman, forcing him to roll out to his right. Sionko made a completion to Ale Wilson, but, before he was brought down, Engineer C.J. Lyons ’22 stripped the ball loose and the fumble was recovered by Austin Charles (Gr). The Engineers went three-and-out on their subsequent drive and gave the ball back to the Bengals with a little over two minutes left in the quarter. The quarter ended 7‒0 with the Bengals on third and 6 at the RPI 36.

AUSTIN CHARLES (GR) RECOVERS a fumble. Andrew Days/The Polytechnic

The Engineers managed to prevent the Bengals from scoring a touchdown on the first drive of the second quarter, but Buffalo State kicker Nick Sciandra’s 30-yard field goal attempt sailed through the uprights. The Engineers’ lead was down to four points with 12:06 to play in the half. RPI’s Sterling Walker-Sutton ’23 received the kickoff at his own nine-yard line and returned it 42 yards to start the Engineers’ drive at the Bengals’ 49. Both teams followed up with an unsuccessful drive each.

RPI regained possession at their own 29 with 3:48 left in the half. After two downs, the Engineers faced third and 4. Marinopoulos dropped back in the pocket but was immediately chased by a couple of Bengals. He made a quick pass to running back Dylan Burnett ’22 behind the line of scrimmage, and Burnett broke several tackles for a gain of 48 yards to bring the Engineers into the red zone. On the next play, Lombardi created space exactly like he did for his touchdown earlier, and Marinopoulos was able to throw a dart to him in the end zone for another seven points. RPI led 14‒3 with 1:47 left in the half. The Engineers shut down the Bengals on the next drive and ran down the clock until the break.

Both teams had uneventful drives to start the second half. RPI regained possession with 10:06 left in the third quarter at their own 20. The Engineers gained yardage and faced third and 15 at the RPI 48, but Marinopoulos found receiver Vinnie McDonald (Gr) for a 22-yard reception to keep the drive alive. The Engineers continued until being stopped at their ten-yard line, forcing fourth and 4. MacDougall’s 27-yard field goal was good, and the Engineers’ lead increased to 17‒3 with 3:02 left in the quarter.

On the Bengals’ next drive, they faced third and 8 at their own 35. Quarterback Javon Ford dropped back and looked for a receiver, but saw nothing. Ford made a run for it, trying to gain as much yardage as possible, but he was hit from behind by RPI defensive lineman Shaf Langford ’22 and the ball came loose. The fumble was recovered by defensive back Jimmy Leblo ’23, giving the Engineers the ball back in Bengals’ territory.

After a ten-yard rush by quarterback Jake Kazanowsky ’25, the Engineers had first and 10 with the clock winding down. Kazanowsky took the snap with five seconds left and threw a pass downfield towards the end zone. McDonald was there to make the catch for another touchdown with 0:00 on the clock. The Engineers led 24‒3 heading into the final quarter.

A failed drive from the Bengals to begin the fourth quarter was followed by a fumble by Engineer running back Christian Buckley ’25, giving the Bengals possession. On the first play of the new drive, Sionko’s deep pass was first tipped by Leblo to prevent a reception, then he managed to haul it in as he was falling for an interception. Despite Leblo’s highlight reel interception, the Engineers went three-and-out to give the ball right back.

Buffalo State started the drive with 8:48 left to play at the RPI 41. The Bengals steadily progressed, ending up five yards from the end zone on third down. Sionko took the snap and rushed to his right into the end zone for the Bengals’ first touchdown of the game. The score was then 24‒10 with 2:39 left. The Engineers managed to run down a minute and a half from the clock on the following drive, but the Bengals still had about a minute to come back downfield.

After some long completions, the Bengals had a first down 36 yards out with six seconds left on the clock. Sionko hurled a Hail Mary downfield as the clock reached zero and his pass was caught by Nas Jackson in the end zone for the Bengals’ second touchdown of the contest. The game ended 24‒16, as the extra point from the field goal would have no bearing on the game, with RPI extending their season record to 6‒0 and their Liberty League record to 2‒0.

Click here for RPI TV’s broadcast of the game and here for the box score.

Andrew Days/The Polytechnic