Utica 38, RPI 28 Box Score
Utica, NY (10/8/11) – The Utica College football team racked up 263 yards on the ground en route to snapping a two game slide as the Pioneers defeated host RPI 38-28 Saturday afternoon at East Campus Stadium. Junior Jake Larson (Maple Grove/Bemus Point, NY) ran for a career-high 173 yards on 19 carries, including a 62-yard touchdown run to pace the Pioneers'.
UC totaled 552 yards of offense in the victory and the rushing attack, lead by Larson and sophomore Jesse Baldassare (Mt. Sinai/Mt. Sinai, NY), tallied three touchdowns. Baldassare added 92 yards on only 13 carries to go along with two touchdowns for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers moved their record to 3-2 overall and they have now won nine straight non-conference contests, including two consecutive victories over the Engineers. RPI's record fell to 2-3 overall on the year.
The home team scored first at 6:13 in the first quarter as Engineer quarterback Mike Hermann faked a hand-off and eventually found the end zone to give RPI a 7-0 lead.
UC answered at 10:42 in the second quarter after Baldassare powered in a two-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7. UC sophomore's Andrew Benkwitt (Mamaroneck/Mamaroneck, NY) and Anthony Acevado (New Hartford/New Hartford, NY) connected on a 25-yard pass to set up the squad at the two-yard line. Benkwitt finished the day completing 22-of-34 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns and the junior now has over 1,300 passing yards on the season to go along with 14 touchdowns.
Following two consecutive first downs by the home team, the momentum changed quickly when senior cornerback Jon White (Union-Endicott/Endicott, NY) intercepted Hermann's pass at the RPI 5-yard line and returned it 61 yards. After back-to-back Rensselaer penalties Utica took the lead 14-7 when Benkwitt completed a three-yard pass to sophomore full back Alexander Ruta (Hilton/Hilton, NY). Ruta now has two touchdowns this season.
RPI retaliated on the ensuing drive with five first downs as they marched up the field and scored on a five-yard touchdown pass from Hermann to Joe Cozzolino. The Engineers knotted the game at 14-14 after the drive of which took 5:02 off the clock.
Rensselaer botched the following kick-off giving the Pioneers the ball at the 40-yard line, which resulted in a big possession for UC. With .52 remaining until half, Benkwitt and Acevado connected on back-to-back plays of seven and 44-yards bringing the first down marker to the 14-yard line. Following three incomplete passes, UC kicker Seth Mitchell (Fonda-Fultonville/Fonda, NY) booted a 31-yarder to give the Pioneers a 17-14 lead going into the locker room. Mitchell has now converted on 6-of-6 field goal attempts this season.
Utica would get the ball to start the third quarter and the Pioneers took less than five minutes to capture a 10 point lead. After four first downs, UC secured a 24-14 lead after a five yard touchdown pass from Benkwitt to sophomore tight end Matt Dunn (Miller Place/Miller Place, NY), at 10:54.
RPI cut into the Pioneers' lead with a field-goal, 24-21, following a 4:42 drive and four first downs as Hermann rushed for his second TD of the game. However, UC didn't waste much time regaining its 10 point cushion.
Utica got the ball with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter and quickly scored seven points. Benkwitt completed back-to-back passes of five and 10 yards for a first down and then handed the ball to Baldassare for a 12-yard ran and another UC first down. The next play went for 48-yards, as Baldassare took it the house, giving Utica a 31-21 advantage headed into the final quarter of play.
RPI continued to stick to its rushing attack and gained four consecutive first downs before Hermann pushed his third touchdown of the game in the end zone to cut the lead back to a field goal, 31-28, with 11:41 left in regulation.
On the next possession, Benkwitt completed two passes for a first down, before handing it off to Larson on the next play. Larson gained three yards and followed up with 62-yard touchdown run at 9:29 to give the Pioneers a 38-28 lead.
Rensselaer recorded two first downs on the next drive before sophomore safety Eric Rindo (Lancaster/Lancaster, NY) picked off Hermann with 3:02 left in the fourth. UC then handed the ball off to its rushing unit to seal the victory as time expired.
Wide receiver Anthony Acevado, a New Hartford native, had another stellar performance grabbing eight balls for 157 yards while tight end Matt Dunn added five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Cornerback Jon White registered six solo tackles to go along with his huge interception.
Dana Christofferson (Dryden/Richford, NY) had 12 total tackles, including five solo, while Luke Manolescu (Notre Dame/New York Mills, NY) added ten for the UC defensive unit.
The Pioneers return to action Saturday as they host conference foe Hartwick College. Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium. The Hawks are currently 2-3 overall including a 0-2 mark in E8 play. HC is coming off 32-29 overtime road loss to Alfred University.