Game Highlights: https://youtu.be/Ofke9CgSTEw
BROCKPORT, N.Y. - Senior Nick Cella rushed for two touchdowns and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football team forced five turnovers and blocked a punt as the No. 23/RV Engineers defeated No. 3/4 The College at Brockport 21-13 in an NCAA Playoffs Second Round contest on Bob Boozer Field. RPI improves to 10-1 and advances to the NCAA Quarterfinals against No. 13/14 Johns Hopkins University (11-1) next Saturday. The Golden Eagles, who played in the NCAA Semifinals a season ago, finish at 11-1.
Cella, a running back, ran 27 times for 73 yards and the two scores against a Brockport team that was allowing minus-2.3 yards rushing per game entering the contest. As a team, the Engineers totaled 106 yards on 33 attempts with Cella having a long of 20 yards and classmate Rob Law going for a long of 29 yards. Law had 41 yards on just two carries.
Of the five turnovers RPI forced, two came from junior linebacker John Sadak, who intercepted a pair of passes. Jack Hoggard, Amaechi Konkwo and Alec Hazard each recovered fumbles, while Kyle Samuelsblocked a punt, which set up Cella's first touchdown.
Hoggard and Luke Watanabe shared team-highs of 10 tackles apiece with Watanabe adding a forced fumble and two pass breakups. Sadak had seven tackles and a 12-yard sack on a fourth down play late in the fourth quarter, deep in RPI territory.
After both teams punted to begin the game, it was on Brockport's second series that Sadak intercepted a pass on the home team's 30-yard line, which he returned 18 yards. However, RPI came up empty as its 28-yard field goal attempt was missed to the left. On their ensuing possession, the Golden Eagles were again forced to punt, but this one was blocked by Samuels at the 20-yard line and returned 17 yards by Magnus Wamble. Cella needed just one play, a run to the left, to give the Engineers the lead.
Rensselaer forced another turnover on Brockport's next series, a fumble that was forced by Jack Fallonand recovered by Hoggard at the RPI 27-yard line, ending a 6-play, 48-yard drive.
The Golden Eagles then took advantage of a turnover, a Matt Arita interception at their own 32-yard line. Brockport went 68 yards on 13 plays and pulled to within one point, 7-6, when John Germinario connected with Joseph Ortiz from nine yards away. The extra point attempt failed on a fumbled snap. Undeterred, the duo hooked up again on the next series, this time from 15 yards, for a 13-7 lead, which Brockport took into halftime.
The Engineers wasted no time regaining the advantage in the second half as they took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards on nine plays into the wind with Marinopoulos finding Keaton Ackermann in the back left corner of the end zone from 18 yards out.
Both teams punted twice before Sadak nabbed his second interception, a leaping grab at the Brockport 29 yard line. The Engineers managed to gain nine yards on the ensuing set of downs, but turned it over on a fourth down incompletion. Following a Golden Eagles punt that set RPI up at midfield to start the fourth quarter, the Engineers gained five first downs, eventually ending up at the 2-yard line on a defensive pass interference in the end zone on a fourth down play. Cella pushed across the goal line and a Sanjay Krishnan extra point made it 21-13 with 8:06 to play.
Brockport received the kickoff and drove to the RPI 27-yard line, but Watanabe ripped the ball out and Konkwo recovered it on the 20-yard line. The Engineers eventually punted the ball back to the Golden Eagles, who got to the Rensselaer 10-yard line before Sadak blitzed Germinario, taking him down at the 22-yard line on a fourth down pass attempt. RPI ran out the clock and advanced to the NCAA Playoffs Quarterfinals for the second time in school history (2003). Johns Hopkins was a 58-27 winner over No. 6/6 Frostburg State.
Marinopoulos completed 13 of 35 passes for 142 yards with eight of his completions going to Conor Davies for 68 yards. Ackermann finished with three receptions for 43 yards and Cella had a 23-yard reception.
Germinario was 11 of 32 for 94 yards, along with 28 rushing yards. He was sacked three times. Tyree Brown led all ball carriers with 147 yards on 21 carries and Ortiz had three catches for 36 yards. Alex West made a game-high 11 tackles and Matt Szymanski made 10 stops for the Golden Eagles, who one sack.