RPI Secures NCAA Playoffs Berth With Shoes Trophy Victory

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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's (RPI) defense allowed only 245 yards of offense - just 28 rushing - and forced four turnovers as the Engineers defeated Union College, 20-14, in the Dutchman Shoes Trophy Game at Frank Bailey Field. Not only did RPI improve to 8-2 overall and retain the coveted trophy for the fifth straight season, it won a share of the Liberty League title (4-1) and secured the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs. 

Senior defensive back Sean Egan led the way with six tackles, including two unassisted, and a pair of interceptions. His second pick came at midfield on the game's final play. Linebacker Jack Hoggard had a team-high seven tackles, including four unassisted and one for a loss (2 yards), while Jack Fallon, another linebacker, had six stops (2 solo). Rory McCarthy also had an interception, on a pass originally broken up by Egan, while Amaechi Konkwo recovered a fumble forced by Alec Hazard on a sack. 

On offense, senior Mike Tivinis rushed for 131 yards on 21 carries for the Engineers, who outgained Union, 386-245. He had 67 yards on back-to-back plays (22, 45) late in the fourth quarter as RPI attempted to run out the clock. Freshman George Marinopoulos completed 19 of 28 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score from 15 yards out to Keaton Ackermann with 5:19 left in the fourth quarter. Ackermann finished with a team-high five receptions for 48 yards.

Union (7-3; 3-2) had only 28 rushing yards on 27 carries with 217 through the air. Quarterback Nick Cascione completed 16 of 25 passes and a 63-yard touchdown to Griffin Beal. A wide receiver, Beal had six catches for 118 yards. Jake Lombardo made 16 tackles, including 12 solos, a two-yard sack and 1.5 for lost yards (3) to lead the Dutchmen defense.

Rensselaer opened the game with a 24-yard field goal from Christian Kapp on the game's opening drive and then took advantage of a short field when Konkwo recovered a fumble at the Union 16-yard line. Marinopoulos capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Rob Law for a 10-0 lead with 4:37 left in the first quarter.

Union pulled to within three points, 10-7, when senior running back Connor Kinzelmann scored on a two-yard run up the middle early in the second quarter. Kapp got three points back with a 42-yard field goal with 5:23 to play in the half. The Dutchmen then took the lead on the long pass play from Cascione to Beal with just over a minute remaining in the second quarter.

The only points of the second half was the Marinopoulos to Ackermann touchdown as RPI's defense held Union to just 62 yards of offense - 13 rushing, 49 passing - in the final 30 minutes.

Rensselaer, which is making its fifth NCAA Playoffs appearance and first since 2007, finds out its opponent on Sunday. The first round game will be played next Saturday.

Dec. 14: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 16
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
Box Score Recap Photos
Dec. 8: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 31, UW-Whitewater 14
Box Score Recap Photos
at Mount Union 28, Johns Hopkins 20
Video Box Score Recap Photos
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