TROY, N.Y. - The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) defense had six sacks and gave up a school record -42 yards rushing and only eight points to lead the football team to a 23-8 victory over Castleton State College in a non-league game at the East Campus Stadium. The Engineers improve to 3-0, while the Spartans fall to 1-2.
Through the first three quarters and leading 16-0, RPI held Castleton to just 77 total yards, including -45 on the ground. The Engineers allowed just six first downs to that point and were 10 of 12 on the visitors' third-down conversions. For the game, Rensselaer gave up a late touchdown following 11 consecutive Spartans plays inside the RPI 5-yard line and 271 yards of total offense.
Senior defensive lineman Ted Abriel (Slingerlands, NY / Bethlehem) had a team-high nine tackles, including five unassisted, 3.5 for lost yards (11) and 2.0 sacks (7 yards lost). Classmate Arthur Kuyan (Staten Island, NY / Staten Island Technical) also had 3.5 tackles for lost yards for 33 yards and 2.0 sacks (13 yards lost). He had seven total stops. Eight others also stopped Castleton players behind the line of scrimmage for a team total of 13.0 for 67 yards.
Following a first quarter safety as a result of the Spartans' punter stepping out of the end zone after a bad snap, the Engineers increased their lead with just over five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Senior Andrew Armato (Staten Island, NY / St. Joseph by the Sea) scored on an 8-yard run to the left side, hitting the front pylon while being tackled with 5:11 left in the first half. Junior Andrew Franks (Carmel, CA / Carmel) added the extra point for a 9-0 lead.
RPI went ahead 16-0 with just 10.4 left in the first half when sophomore quarterback Jeff Avery (White Plains, NY / White Plains) hit Joe Cozzolino (Chatham, NY / Chatham) in the flat and the senior tight end found the end zone untouched for the 13-yard score. Franks hit the extra point for the16-point margin at halftime. The drive covered 10 plays and 47 yards in 1:54.
Sophomore wide receiver Logan Gaddar (South Portland, ME / South Portland) made a one-handed grab in the end zone from 22 yards out to increase the home team's advantage to 23-0. It was Gaddar's first collegiate touchdown and the second for Avery. The score came just five seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Spartans got on the board with 1:10 remaining when Michael Toczko (W. Bridgewater, MA / W. Bridgewater) finished a 14-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge. The final 11 plays took place deep in RPI territory thanks in part to several Engineers' penalties that extended the drive.
Castleton freshman quarterback Tyler Higley (Vernon, VT / Brattleboro) finished 29 of 54 with 313 yards passing. He was intercepted once and sacked five times. Freshman Soren Pelz-Walsh (Dummerston, VT / Brattleboro) finished with 11 catches for 147 yards.
Junior linebacker Todd Carr (Ticonderoga, NY / Ticonderoga) had a game-best 17 tackles, including four solos, while senior linebacker Mick Wong (Hartford, VT / Hartford) had 13 tackles, including a game-high seven unassisted, with a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Avery completed 13 of 24 passes for 167 yards and two scores with Cozzolino collecting four passes for 64 yards. Armato had 63 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Rensselaer opens play in the Liberty League next Saturday when it travels to rival WPI for the Transit Trophy. Kickoff is 1pm. Castleton is idle next week and the Spartans return to the field on October 5 at Husson (12pm).