Football retains shoes trophy for fourth straight year

RPI football

TROY, N.Y. – Junior Mike Tivinis rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns to lead Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to a 21-12 victory over visiting Union College at East Campus Stadium on Saturday. With the win in the oldest collegiate football rivalry in New York State, the Engineers won the Dutchman Shoes Trophy for the fourth straight year for the first time in the series history.

The Engineers close out the 2016 season with an overall record of 5-5 and a 3-4 mark in the Liberty League. The Dutchmen finish the year with a mark of 3-7 and went 2-5 in league play. Coach Ralph Isernia is now a perfect 4-0 in the Shoes Trophy Game, and RPI had previously won three straight in 1957-59 and 2006-08.

John Costello had 76 yards on the ground and Alexander Greenidge had a team best 14 tackles for RPI. The Engineers had 373 rushing yards, the most against Union this year.

Jake Lombardo had a career and Union season high 21 tackles, and Jack Reilly added 17 with Brian Alebiosu making 15 stops for the Dutchmen. Union had 117 yards on the ground and 104 passing. Jermaine Carn had 76 yards on 14 carries in his final game for the visitors, and Blake Geller was 11 for 24 for 104 yards and a TD with an interception.

In the first quarter, neither team made the opponent’s red zone. The Engineers scored the only points of the first half when Tivinis, who had missed the previous three games due to injury, had a three yard run with five minutes remaining in the second quarter, capping an 11 play, 81 yard drive that consumed 4:50. The drive featured a 28 yard run from Maliek Kelly on a second down from the RPI 41. Ethan Wells had 21 yards on three straight carries on the drive.

After forcing a Union four-and-out, the Engineers took over on their own 33. On the seventh play of that drive, with 39 seconds remaining in the half, Christian Kapp attempted a 28 yard field goal. But Alebiosu, in the backfield, leaped and got a piece of the ball for his second blocked kick of the season. Thus it remained 7-0 RPI heading into the half.

RPI had 178 rushing yards to Union’s 96 in the first half, and both teams combined for eight punts and a total of 12 passing yards during a quick, 52 minute first half.

The Dutchmen kicked off to RPI for the third quarter, and Delano Munoz Whattstook the return 52 yards down to the Union 35. During the drive Tivinis had a 21 yard run to the Dutchmen 15 yard line and later scored an eight yard touchdown with 12:34 remaining to cap the five play, 2:15 drive, and the Engineers had a 14-0 lead.

RPI made it 21-0 after a 10 play, 52 yard drive that took 4:49 off the third quarter clock. After a 19 yard run by Wells brought it to the one yard line, Wells ran it in for the score.

The Dutchmen got on the board on the next drive, as Alex Kaplanovich caught a 32 yard pass from Geller, but the extra point attempt failed and it was 21-6. It was a six play, 81 yard drive that took 2:04. During the drive, Geller completed three of four passes for 45 yards.

Justin Waller’s fourth interception kept it at 21-6, coming with 11:08 left in the fourth quarter in the Union end zone and ended a threat to open it up for RPI. The Engineers had marched 54 yards on 15 plays in 8:03 but came away with no points.

Union got a key turnover when Jake Lombardo forced a fumble after a 12 yard RPI run and Sebastien Lubrano recovered at the Union 48 with 9:46 left in the fourth quarter. But although Union brought it to the 27, RPI’s Luke Watanabe intercepted a pass in the end zone with 8:32 left in the fourth.

Union had a nine play, 29 yard drive stall on fourth down at the RPI 31 with 4:02 left.  But the defense stopped the Engineers, and Justin Waller took the punt and returned it up the right sidelines for a 69 yard touchdown. The two point play was intercepted. Union attempted an onside kick with 2:24 left but the Engineers took over at the RPI 49 with 2:24 left and ran out the clock.

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