Defense Leads Football to 14-7 Win Over St. Lawrence
TROY, N.Y. - The Rensselaer defense allowed just 162 yards, only nine first downs and no points to lead the Engineers to a 14-7 victory over St. Lawrence in a Liberty League contest on Homecoming & Reunion Weekend. RPI gave up just 68 yards rushing and 94 passing in improving to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the league. The Saints, who scored their only TD on a interception return, fall to 2-5 and 1-3.
Rensselaer was led defensively by junior defensive lineman Cody Hinrichs (Islip, NY/Islip), who had six tackles, including two unassisted and 1.5 sacks (6 yards lost), with a pass breakup. Senior linebacker Ray Pasco (Fort Edward, NY/Fort Edward) also ahd six tackles (4 solo) and a pass breakup. As a team, the Engineers had four sacks (23 yards lost), seven tackles for lost yards (28 yards lost) and six pass breakups.
Offensively, junior quarterback Mike Hermann (Hardeesville, SC/Avon Old Farms) threw two touchdowns, one in each of the first two quarters, to pace RPI. His first finished a 7-play, 32-yard drive that took 3:41.
Things got started on a St. Lawrence punt that junior Austin Caswell (Round Rock, TX/Stony Point) returned 29 yards. After catching the ball, he started right but was forced to double back before he could move forward. A pair of timely blocks allowed him to get to the Saints' 32-yard line.
Caswell continued to help the cause two plays later as he hauled in a 9-yard catch for a first-and-goal situation with 1:55 left in the first quarter. The Engineers completed the drive when Hermann hit tight end Mike Blais (Troy, NY/LaSalle Institute) for a 6-yard score. Freshman Andrew Franks (Carmel, CA/Carmel) added point-after for a 7-0 RPI lead after the first quarter.
Rensselaer took advantage of a 12-play, 81-yard drive for the second touchdown of the game, a 23-yards strike to junior wide reciever Nick Weber (Winchester, MA/Winchester). Hermann helped sustain the drive as he ducked past two Saints' defenders for a 15-yard pass to senior TJ Strunk (West Palm Beach, FL/Benjamin) to open the series. After back-to-back gains, a holding call brought the home team back to the 29-yard line. After gaining a net of six yards on its next two plays set up a 3rd-and-14, Hermann stepped around an SLU defender and threw downfield, finding Weber in the right corner of the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
St. Lawrence's offense struggled on the ensuing drive as sophomore quarterback Nik Busharis (Mansfield, MA/Mansfield) was sacked and a completed pass to Marcus Washington (Pahokee, FL/Pahokee) ended up as a fumble, which was recovered by Engineers' linebacker Matthew Day (Claremont, NH/Stevens).
Despite good field position as RPI took over at the St. Lawrence 39-yard line, the home team was unable to capitalize as Hermann was stopped just short on a 3rd-and-10. Rensselaer took a 14-0 advantage into halftime.
Neither team mustered much offense to open the third quarter, as both defenses played well.
In fact, it was the Saints' defense that put them on the board when senior defensive back Christian Bianchi (Pittsfield, MA/The Gunnery) stepped in front of a Hermann throw on the sideline and ran uncontested down the leftside from 33-yards out to make it a 14-7 game with 1:47 left in the third quarter.
Heading into the final quarter, St. Lawrence's comeback attempt began on its own 5-yard line. Washington led the charge as he opened the drive with a 21-yard gain. Despite a total of 46 rushing yards from the senior running back on the series, the Saints couldn't capitalize and they were forced to punt with 6:42 remaining in the game.
Rensselaer took over and soon faced a long third down, but a 15-yard pass from Hermann to Blais moved them downfield. Three plays later, RPI failed to convert another long third down play, but a personal foul penalty for a late hit allowed the Engineers to maintain possession. From there the home team ran out the clock.
Hermann finished the game by completing 20 of 36 passes for 188 yards with the interception and two touchdowns. He also ran for 26 yards. Weber was the team's leading receiver with 58 yards.
For St. Lawrence, Washington - the top rusher in the Liberty League entering the game (139.7 yards per game) - finished with 90 yards on 18 carries. Busharis completed 10 of 24 passes for 94 yards. Trevor Saunders (Mount Vernon, NY/Dobbs Ferry) led all players with 11 tackles, including seven unassisted, a 1-yard sack and two tackles for lost yards (3).
RPI is back in action next Saturday when they travel to Schenectady to play Union in the Annual Dutchman Shoes Trophy Game beginning at 1:30pm. St. Lawrence is idle next week.