TROY — The RPI Engineers looked to finish off a perfect regular season in the 69th annual Dutchman Shoes Game against Union. Despite a tightly contested matchup, Union pulled away for a 34-10 victory.
In the first quarter a bad punt by Union’s Zac Christian set the Engineers with great field position, starting their drive at the Union 38 yard line. A long pass by George Marinopoulos found Conor Davies on the left side line for a 30 yard gain. Senior back Nick Cella finished off the drive, going down main street for a touchdown.
The Engineers of RPI struggled in the second quarter, particularly George Marinopoulos. George couldn’t handle the pass rush and only completed six passes. He also had a hard time with turnovers. George threw two picks in the second quarter, one to Dan Gioioso and another to Alex Deidrich. He finished the afternoon with 193 passing yards and three interception with no touchdowns.
“They had a lot of talent on that defense, good playmakers out there. They got pressure with their front four and the secondary players played well. They executed better than we did today,” said George Marinopoulos.
Union’s offense came alive in the second quarter. A strong running attack by Ike Irabor led Union down to the goal line where he flew threw the tackles to put the Dutchmen on the board. Then after Marinopoulos’ first interception. Union found themselves in the red zone again. This time Ike Irabor caught a pass from Will Bellamy in the flat and brought it across the pylon for six more points. On RPI’s next drive, Joe Scaglione took the ball five yards up the field before losing the football. Union capitalized on the turnover by throwing a pass into the wind to Andre Ross Jr who added another six points.
RPI came out and scored in the second half. Staring with the ball, Coach Isernia opted to run the ball with Nick Cella who got the ball to the red zone in six carries. The Engineers settled for a field goal but their defense held Union without a score until the fourth quarter. Isernia decided to go for it on fourth down inside of their own ten yard line and failed, so the Dutchmen received the ball with only seven yards left to get to the end zone. Irabor took another house call, his second rushing and third total touchdown of the game. He also ran for 118 yards on 23 carries.
“We were running out of time. If we punt the ball away and then don’t get it back then that’s the game. We had a good play call, it was just a little bit out of reach,” said Coach Isernia.
Defensively Dan Gioioso was everywhere for the Union Dutchmen. Gioioso was a pain in Marinopoulos’ side all day starting with the first interception that he caught. Gioioso also put pressure on Marinopoulos, sacking him three and a half times as a part of six and a half tackles for loses.
Union delivered the final blow to the Engineers in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter. Down 27 points, the RPI offense was driving down the field with reckless abandon. They made it to the Union 40 yard line in less than a minute. George Marinopoulos stepped up in the pocket to make a throw but he suffered a blow to the hip, sending the ball right to Union’s Jack Reilly. Reilly returned the ball 79 yards for a touchdown. When he reached the end zone he threw the ball up onto the top of RPI’s athletics building, causing a flag.
Senior linebacker Jack Reilly said, “There were a lot of emotions going on. That was probably the last play of my career and I’ve been playing since I was six.”
So even though the Engineers lost the Dutchmen Shoe game for the first time in five years, they have already clinched a playoff spot starting next week. The matchups will be announced tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m.
George Marinopoulos said, “I’m looking at it as another game. That’s all that it is, just another game.”