Engineers repeat defeat of Dutchmen for Shoes trophy

Reigning-champions Rensselaer scored three touchdowns, two in the first quarter, to secure a 23-13 victory over Union in the annual Dutchman Shoes rivalry game. Jake Kazanowsky threw for 162 yards and two touchdowns, with Dylan Burnett reaching the end zone on a one-yard rush and a 32-yard reception. Not receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the Engineers will finish their season at East Campus Stadium to take on the Morrisville Mustangs in the Scotty Whitelaw Bowl on November 19.

Union won the opening coin toss and chose to defer. The opening kickoff sailed back to the Rensselaer 18-yard line and Sterling Walker-Sutton gained 16 yards on the return, starting the Engineers’ drive at the 34. After a short completion to Peter Lombardi on first down, Kazanowsky handed the ball off to Burnett. After squeezing through his blockers, Burnett found a clearing behind the Dutchman defensive line. A Union cornerback stalled the running back just enough to allow his teammates to catch up, finally bringing him down at the seven-yard line for a gain of 54 yards. The Dutchmen stopped Rensselaer just shy of the end zone on second down, but Burnett finished them off with a one-yard rush into the end zone, putting RPI up 7-0 after less than three minutes.

DYLAN BURNETT BREAKS through the Union defensive line for a 54-yard rush into the red zone. Katherine Barney/The Polytechnic

The Dutchmen took over at their own 37 and gained a first down on two five-yard rushes. The RPI defense stopped them at midfield on third down, forcing them to punt. The long snap plunged into the ground in front of punter Andrew Lau. The delay enabled Engineer Nolan Farina to dive in front of Lau, blocking the rushed punt. The ball tumbled in the air past the line of scrimmage, hitting Union blockers before being downed at the RPI 47.

Stopped short of the line to gain on the first two plays, the Engineers needed a completion on third down to keep the drive alive. Kazanowsky found Lombardi in space near the left sideline for a 27-yard completion to move the chains. After gaining five yards on the following three downs, RPI faced fourth and 5 at the Union 22. Out of kicker Aleksander Maric’s field goal range, the Engineers went for it. Kazanowsky dropped back in the pocket, spotting Deen Ninche in yards of space after blowing by a Union cornerback. Ninche routinely caught Kazanowsky’s pass in the end zone for the Engineers’ second touchdown, increasing the lead to 14.

DEEN NINCHE CATCHES Kazanowsky's pass in the end zone for the Engineers' second touchdown. Katherine Barney/The Polytechnic

Later in the first quarter, RPI’s Marco Olavarria blocked another Union punt to give the Engineers a favorable field position in Dutchman territory. Rensselaer’s offense cooled down after their second touchdown, struggling to gain a first down to begin the second quarter.

The Engineer defense forced a three-and-out, giving their offense the ball back at the RPI 46. Kazanowsky’s rushes kept RPI rolling down the field until reaching fourth down at the Union 10. Maric drilled the 27-yard field goal through the uprights to put the Engineers up 17-0.

Union’s offense marched upfield after Maric’s field goal, a 23-yard reception by running back Ike Irabor on third down bringing them into the red zone. Penalties pushed the Dutchmen back, including a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty leading to an ejection after Kevin Dewing punched an Engineer after the whistle. On the next play following the setback, quarterback Donovan Pacatte bulleted a pass to receiver Avery Turton 10 yards from the end zone, Turton evading two Engineers before striding into the end zone for the touchdown. Union’s touchdown being the final scoring of the first half, the teams headed into halftime with RPI leading 17-7.

Union started with possession to begin the second half. After gaining a first down, Pacatte handed the ball off to Ikafor at their own 37. Ikafor danced through his blockers and sped by a handful of Engineers into heaps of empty space down the left sideline to take it all the way to the house for a 63-yard rushing touchdown. RPI blocked the subsequent extra-point attempt, keeping the score 17-13.

The Engineer offense continued to struggle, giving the ball back to the Dutchmen at the Union 39. The Dutchmen earned a new set of downs, but RPI halted their progress at the Engineer 37. Too far to attempt a field goal, Union went for it on fourth and 10. Pacatte lobbed a deep pass to the end zone, overthrowing his receiver. Jimmy Leblo intercepted the pass in the end zone and was tackled for a touchback, arguably a poor decision as an incompletion would have given RPI possession at the 37 rather than the 20.

Rensselaer quickly went three-and-out, giving Union the ball in RPI territory. Union bulldozed through the Engineer defense down to inside the 10. The RPI defense solidified as Union neared the end zone, forcing fourth down and 3 at the nine-yard line. The Union field goal unit set up their formation, Max Gluck poised to take the kick. Gluck laced through the ball. The RPI defensive line tipped the kick, the ball tumbling out of bounds short of the goal post to save three points.

Taking over at their own 20, the Engineers advanced upfield with third down completions to Lombardi and Burnett. RPI began the fourth quarter at the Union 33. On second down, Burnett burned through the Dutchmen’s zone coverage on a corner route. Kazanowsky hit Burnett in stride at the 10-yard line, the running back sneaking into the end zone untouched to make it a two-score game. Union blocked the extra point, keeping a 10 point buffer on the scoreboard with nearly the entire final quarter remaining.

Needing a touchdown, the Dutchmen desperately threw the ball downfield. On their first attempt, they gained 37 yards to reach the RPI 28. On their second, Engineer Spencer Brockdorff picked off Pacatte, rising above two Dutchmen in the end zone to snuff out a Union touchdown. RPI burned nine minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter and stopped the Dutchmen on their next two drives to secure the Dutchman Shoes trophy for the second year in a row. Click here for the box score and here for the RPI TV broadcast.