TROY, N.Y. - Senior quarterback Mike Hermann threw two touchdowns and rushed for three others and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football team scored five touchdowns over the course of the second and third quarters to defeat Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), 39-17, in the Liberty League opener for both teams. In addition to improving to 3-0 overall, RPI regains possession of the Transit Trophy for the first time in three years. Rensselaer holds a 22-10-1 record in such games with WPI. The visiting Engineers fall to 1-3.
Hermann (Hardeesville, SC/Avon Old Farms), who accounted for seven touchdowns last week (5 passing, 2 rushing), completed 25 of 36 yards for 239 yards and scoring strikes of 29 and 28 yards. He was intercepted once. He had scoring runs of three, one and one yards and finished with 42 yards on the ground. Hermann's favorite target was senior Steven Burpoe (Saranac Lake, NY/Saranac Lake), who had a game-high nine catches for 100 yards and a 29 yard score.
WPI opened the scoring on a 26-yard field goal by sophomore Mitchell Lewis (Farmington, CT) at 9:18 of the first quarter. RPI came back to score on its ensuing drive, culminated by a 12-yard run by junior Andrew Armato (Staten Island, NY/St. Joseph by the Sea) in which he broke several tackles and bulled over the goal line. The extra point was missed and Rensselaer led, 6-3 with 5:38 left in the first quarter. WPI's Aaron Marshall (Acushnet, MA/Bishop Stang) put the visitors back in front when he caught a Jacob Grills (East Lyme, CT/Bridgeton Academy) over the middle, broke a tackle and outraced the defense down the field for a 64-yard touchdown. The point-after by Lewis made it a four-point difference, 10-6.
Rensselaer gained control by scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter. Hermann had runs of three and one yard for a 19-10 lead with under five minutes to go. With under a minute left in the first half, the RPI defense forced a punt, which was blocked and set the Engineers up at the 14-yard line. Following two penalties, Hermann found senior Steven Burpoe (Saranac Lake, NY/Saranac Lake) down the middle for a 29-yard touchdown on a third-and-25 play with 33 seconds left in the half. RPI held a 25-10 lead at the break.
Hermann helped account for RPI's two third quarter touchdowns, throwing a 28-yard scoring strike to Nick Weber (Winchester, MA/Winchester) on a first-and-10 play early in the frame and then scoring from a yard out with 3:02 left in the quarter for a 39-10 lead. WPI broke RPI's scoring string when Grills connected with tight end Rob Winthrop (Holtsville, NY/Sachem East) from eight yards out 2:01 into the fourth quarter.
The RPI defense held WPI to 211 yards of total offense, registering 7.0 tackles for lost yards (42) and 4.0 sacks (37 yards lost) in the process. Junior Jacob Meyers (Ballston Spa, NY/Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) had a team-high eight tackles, including five unassisted. Sophomore Wade Hansen (Troy, NY/Tamarac) had six stops, including 1.5 for lost yards (7) and half a sack.
For WPI, Shaine Grogan (Dalton, MA/Wahconah Regional) made 12 tackles (3 solo) for the Engineers, who had 11.0 for lost yards (30) as a team. Mitch McClune (Pembroke, MA/Boston College High) had 11 saves, including seven unassisted and 1.5 for lost yards (4). Offensively, Grills finished with 173 yards passing by completing 16 of 38 passes. He had one interception. Marshall finished with five catches for 89 yards.
Rensselaer returns to the field next Saturday at league foe Merchant Marine (2pm), while WPI hosts Hobart in a Liberty League game the same day (12pm).