TROY, N.Y. – Junior quarterback Mike Hermann rushed for 168 yards and a touchdown and threw for 188 yards and three scores to lead the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football team to a 51-21 victory over Castleton State College in the 2011 home opener at East Campus Stadium. The Engineers, who totaled 573 yards of total offense, moves to 1-1, while the Spartans drop to 0-2.
RPI's victory also marked the first win under the direction of head coach Tim Landis, who is in his first season at the helm.
Of the 573 offensive yards by the Engineers, 385 came on the ground. It marks the first time RPI has posted 300+ rushing yards against an opponent since September 10, 2005, against Endicott when it had 324). In addition to Hermann (Hardeeville, SC/Avon Old Farms), Rensselaer saw senior TJ Strunk (West Palm Beach, FL/Benjamin) add 98 rushing 98, while sophomore Andrew Armato (Staten Island, NY/St. Joseph by the Sea) had 76 yards.
The visitors opened the scoring on the first drive of the game when Shane Brozowski (Rensselaer, NY/Rensselaer) threw a 15-yard pass to Brandon Boyle (Springfield, VT/Springfield) to cap a 14-play, 77- yard series that took just over five minutes. The Spartans benefited from a costly RPI pass interference call on a third down play.
Rensselaer answered right back on its first series, tying things on a 2-yard diving touchdown by Strunk. The Engineers opened the drive with a 22-yard throw by Hermann to wide receiver Nick Weber (Winchester, MA/Winchester). Following a 16-yard carry by Hermann, Strunk set up the score with a 15-yard gain to the Castleton State 5-yard line.
The Engineers pushed its advantage to 14-7 on a 9-play, 77-yard drive that spanned the final 3:15 of the opening quarter. Rensselaer broke the tie just 10 seconds into the second stanza as Hermann, who completed 13 of 20 pass attempts, ducked past two defenders and rifled a 17-yard pass to sophomore Joe Cozzolino (Chatham, NY/Chatham) in the end zone.
Castleton State bounced right back, making it 14-14 less than three minutes later as Brozowski found junior tight end Adam Farmer (South Burlington, VT/South Burlington) for a 16-yard touchdown.
Rensselaer once again answered on its next possession, set up by two fantastic plays. A one-handed 26-yard reception by junior Austin Caswell (Round Rock, TX/Stony Point) brought the Engineers to the Spartans 19-yard line and was followed by an 11-yard rush from Hermann to make it first-and-goal. Junior Matt Wood (Skaneateles, NY/Skaneateles) capped the drive with a 1-yard dive for a 21-14 lead with 9:03 remaining in the second quarter.
After a three-and-out by the Spartans, the Engineers went back to work on offense, needing just 1:36 to make it a two-possession game. Hermann highlighted the drive with a 40-yard run into the end zone to give him 111 yards rushing to that point.
Castleton State started its next drive with a 60-yard kickoff return by junior Brandon Bergeron (Hartford, VT/Hartford), but a tipped ball by RPI's Nick Herrera (Miami, FL/Belen Jesuit Prep.) saw Brozowski's pass land in the hands of Engineers defensive back Joe Tedder (Stamford, CT/St. Luke's School) for the interception with five minutes left to play.
The Engineers capitalized with 1:16 remaining on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Hermann to Caswell to make it a 34-14 lead heading into halftime.
RPI continued to pressure heading into the third quarter as Strunk went eight yards into the end zone for a 41-14 advantage. Castleton State closed the gap minutes later after junior running back Tyler Carpenter (Fort Edward, NY/Fort Edward) fought through the RPI defense on second and goal for a 1-yard touchdown.
Rensselaer freshman kicker Andrew Franks (Carmel, CA/Carmel) boasted the lead on the next series as he nailed a 26-yard field goal to make it a 44-21 advantage with 5:27 remaining in the stanza.
After several back-and-forth series that kept both teams off the scoreboard to open the fourth quarter, the Engineers pushed its lead to 30 points when Hermann tossed a 5-yard pass into the hands of Cozzolino to make it a 51-21 game with 9:27 left in the stanza.
Castleton State made a charge down the field on the ensuing drive, but Tedder nabbed his second interception of the game to give the Engineers the ball back with 7:38 left in the contest.
RPI continued to run down the clock late in the game with Armato (Staten Island, NY/St. Joseph by the Sea) helping the cause. He rushed for 33 yards in the Engineers final drive, which saw the ball turned over on downs.
The Spartans offense was led by Brozowski, who was 13-for-21 with 128 yards and two touchdowns. He also had an interception. Carpenter rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown, while Boyle was Castleton State's top receiver with 40 yards on five catches.
On defense, junior Dustin Young (Dunnellon, FL/Dunnellon) had a game-best 12 stops, while classmate Cameron Laundry (Hartland, VT/Hartland) posted nine tackles, including five solo.
Defensively for RPI, senior Zach Scruggs (Auburn, GA/Dacula) led all tacklers with 10 stops, including five solo. Junior Matthew Day (Claremont, NH/Stevens) had nine tackles and Tedder chipped in with three stops.
The Engineers return to action next Saturday when they open Liberty League play on the road at WPI. The game, which begins at 1pm, is the annual Transit Trophy Game. The Spartans are also in action next Saturday, hosting Anna Maria in their ECFC opener at 1pm.