Rensselaer Upends Ithaca, 27-14

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TROY, N.Y. - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the Engineers held Ithaca College to -3 rushing yards while intercepting four passes in a 27-14 victory over the Bombers in a Liberty League contest at East Campus Stadium. Rensselaer improves to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference, while Ithaca is now 3-3 with a 3-1 league mark.

Trailing 7-0 since the first series of the game, the Engineers were held off the scoreboard, despite multiple trips to the red zone, until 12:46 of the fourth quarter. RPI started its game-tying drive with 4:03 left in the third, eventually going 88 yards on 13 plays with freshman quarterback George Marinopoulos (Slingerlands, NY / Guilderland) finding junior Keaton Ackermann (Erieville, NY / Cazenovia) in the back of the end zone from seven yards out. The biggest play of the series was a 33-yard completion from Marinopoulos to sophomore Delano Munoz Whatts(Bethesda, MD / Walter Johnson) down the right sideline that brought the ball to the seven.

The game remained tied until there was 3:56 left and it quickly became 21-7 for the Engineers with 3:39 remaining. Sophomore Maliek Kelly (Staten Island, NY / Curtis) scored on a 6-yard jet sweep to finish a 4-play, 24-yard drive for the Engineers, who were set up at the 24-yard line thanks to a 10-yard punt return by Conor Davies (Lanoka Harbor, NJ / Lacey Township). On the second play of the ensuing drive, Rensselaer sophomore Alec Hazard (Mobile, AL / Baker) stuffed a pass attempt and made an interception that he returned to the 8-yard line. Senior Mike Tivinis (Middleton, MA / Masconomet Regional) ran up the middle on the first play for the 14-point lead.

Ithaca drove the ball 75 yards on 11 plays, capped by an 11-yard slant for a touchdown from freshman Wahid Nabi (Latham, NY / Shaker) to senior Frank Martino (Windsor, NY / Windsor Central) with just 36 seconds left to make it 21-14. RPI's Ackermann recovered the onside kick, but the Engineers were forced to punt. Ithaca got the ball on its own 15-yard line with 15 seconds left and gained 10 on its first play. On the Bombers second play, the last of the game, Rensselaer's DJ Stefonsky (Gainesville, VA / Pope John Paul the Great) fell on the ball in the end zone after a series of laterals for the final margin.

Nabi put the visitors in front soon after the opening kickoff when he drove the Bombers 75 yards on just six plays and 1:47. He completed four passes - three of which were 15-or-more yards - with the last being a 26-yard scoring strike to classmate Andrew Vito (Towaco, NJ / Bergen Catholic) in the end zone.

RPI had a chance to pull within four points on its first drive, but a 28-yard field goal was missed right. The Engineers later drove to Ithaca's 5-yard line, but the Bombers forced a fumble and recovered at the 10-yard line early in the second quarter.

Rensselaer's defense forced five turnovers, including an interception by Stefonsky, while registering three sacks. It allowed 11 net yards rushing on 20 carries, led by senior Bryan Hayes (Boylston, MA / Tahanto Regional), who made 11 tackles (4 solo) with 0.5 for lost yards (1), an interception, two pass breakups and a blocked field goal. Rory McCarthy (Oneida, NY / Oneida) had seven stops (3 solo), an interception with a 9-yard return and a pass breakup, and freshman Amaechi Konkwo (Alexandria, VA / Bishop Ireton) had a 9-yard sack. Two of his five total stops (3 solo) were behind the line of scrimmage (10 yards lost).

Marinopoulos, making his first career start, finished 19 for 32 for 161 yards and a touchdown. He was not intercepted. Ackermann had five catches for 33 yards and 11 players combined to rush for 112 yards. 

Nabi finished 23 of 42 for 329 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Vito had seven receptions for 123 yards and the score, while Jared Bauer (Northampton, PA / Northampton Area) had five catches for 73 yards. 

Kenny Bradley (Jackson, NJ / Jackson Memorial), a senior linebacker, had 11 tackles (4 solo), while classmate Jordan Schemm (Coral Springs, FL / North Broward Prep.) a defensive back, had 10 tackles (6 solo) and a pass breakup. 

Ithaca is back in action on Saturday when it hosts St. John Fisher College in a non-league game on Saturday. RPI also plays a non-league game next Saturday when it travels to No. 17 Alfred University. Both games begin at 1pm.

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Dec. 8: All times Eastern
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