TROY, N.Y. - The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football team scored 21 points in each of the first two quarters to build a 42-0 halftime lead and the Engineers went on to a 63-14 victory over the University of Rochester in a Liberty League contest on Senior Day at East Campus Stadium.
With the win, RPI improves to 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference and controls its own NCAA Playoffs destiny. Should Rensselaer win at Union College (7-2; 3-1) in the Dutchman Shoes Trophy Game next Saturday, it will earn an automatic berth into the national post-season tournament. If the Dutchmen beat the Engineers, who last played in the NCAA Playoffs in 2007, Ithaca College (6-3; 4-1) will be the league's representative.
RPI, which scored its most points since tallying 63 in a win over St. Lawrence University in 1998 (63-23), got on the scoreboard on its first play from scrimmage when freshman quarterback George Marinopoulos found junior slot receiver Connor Davies in the right flat and watched Davies run down the right sideline, breaking several tackles, for an 87-yard touchdown.
Sophomore John Sadak got the ball right back for the Engineers with an interception and two plays later senior running back Mike Tivinis rushed 29 yards up the middle for a 14-0 lead. Senior Bryan Hayes intercepted another pass on Rochester's next possession and Marinopoulos found junior Marc Meislahn for a 30-yard score at the end of the first quarter.
A third straight Yellowjackets turnover, this one a fumble recovered by senior Malik Joseph on the Rochester 15-yard line, led to the third touchdown pass for Marinopoulos, who hit Danny Calabro from 15 yards away for a 28-0 lead just 58 seconds into the second frame.
Tivinis added an 11-yard run on RPI's next series, which started on the Rochester 11-yard line following a blocked punt by Maliek Kelly, before Keaton Ackermannmade a diving catch in the far corner of the end zone from eight yards out for a 42-0 edge.
Marinopoulos completed 9 of 10 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns in the first half. Tivinis had 62 rushing yards on eight carries and the Engineers held a 301-128 advantage in total yards through the first 30 minutes.
Junior running back Nick Cella added a pair of third quarter touchdowns (1 & 5 yards) in the third quarter for a 56-0 lead before Rochester's Jason Cunningham got the visitors on the board with 11:19 left in the fourth quarter. The Yellowjackets drove 75 yards on 10 plays, including a 22-yard hook-up between junior quarterback Josh Brown and senior wide receiver Daniel Bronson, with Cunningham going in from three yards out.
Sophomore running back Delano Munoz Whatts answered with a 4-yard run, but it was Rochester that closed out the scoring when Cunningham plunged in from a yard away with 4:48 left in the second half. sophomore defensive back Matt Woodarek gained possession for the Yellowjackets when he picked up a fumble inside the Rensselaer 10-yard line.
RPI finished with 470 yards of total offense, including 210 on the ground. Senior Ethan Wells had 99 yards on just six carries, including a 52-yard long, while Tivinis finished with 62 yards (8 carries) and Davies had 32 on six attempts. Marinopoulos was 9 for 11 for 198 yards and senior Luke Moran was 2 for 3 with 62 yards.
Senior Brandt Beck had eight tackles, including two sacks for 19 yards, and a pass breakup for RPI, which saw 35 different players make at least one stop.
Rochester, which falls to 2-6 and 0-4, got seven tackles apiece from Austin Carr (6 unassisted) and Woodarek (3) and six from Ryan Bell (3).
Emanuel Calmar rushed for 64 yards on 15 carries and Cunningham finished with 26 yards on 13 attempts. Brown completed 9 of 17 yards with two interceptions. Bronson had four catches for 40 yards and 23 rushing yards on nine attempts. The Yellowjackets close out the season against Hobart College next Saturday.