Troy–The RPI Engineers and the Utica Pioneers stood off tonight at the East Campus Athletic Village. Despite differing reasons for offensive success it was drama in the fourth quarter that pushed the needle in RPI’s favor.
“We’re not accustomed to losing, so last week was tough for us. We knew could play better and we did tonight, so it was a big game,” said defensive back Joey Gutowski.
With 19 seconds remaining in the game, Utica found themselves down eight points. Cooly, quarterback Logan Miller stepped up in the pocket and fed Peyton Miller the ball in the end zone. After lining up for the two-point conversion, the Pioneers sent Brad Dougherty out deep and tried to set up Miller once again, to no avail. Gutowski was credited with the pass break up and the tying attempt was thwarted.
“When they needed a big play we knew they would go to 1 (Miller). So before the play I kept thinking ‘look for 1, look for 1.’ When they moved the back out I figured it was a fake to get us off our keys so when I saw 1 come out I jumped the pass,” said Gutowski.
But that was not Utica’s last chance. They attempted the onside kick with enormous success, returning it for a touchdown. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, they touched the ball just yards early and were unable to repeat it on the second attempt.
RPI had a tough time getting a normal and consistent offense going, particularly in the first half. The running game was relatively unimpressive, only gaining four yards in the entire first quarter of play. Meanwhile quarterback George Marinopoulos couldn’t seem to find anything effective in the short passing game and settled for limited gains as a result. They did however make up for these struggles with opportune chunk plays downfield. All four of Marinopoulos’ receivers on the night (Maliek Kelly, Nick Smith, Marc Meishlan, Tommy Avery) had at least on catch of 20 yards or more which were helped the Engineers score five times on the night.
“They did a good job of tackling on short gains,” said Coach Ralph Isernia. “It forced George to go to his second or third men in his progression so that’s why you saw those long passes.”
Meanwhile it was just the opposite for Utica. The Pioneers chose to use the short passing game to break the big plays. They trusted Keegan Wright and Miller to get the ball quick and get into open spaces. It was there that they could avoid the Engineer bodies and make people miss. They also tossed the ball to Dougherty to make a cut outside the numbers frequently, resulting in 48 yards and a touchdown for the back.
RPI also got bit with the all too potent penalty bug. Be it for excessive celebration, offsides, or defensive holding the Engineers were flagged nine times on the night for 65. yards.
Coach Isernia said,”We’ve got to control the controllable penalties. The celebration penalty lost us 25 yards in the kickoff… We can’t continue to have those because it becomes more difficult to overcome them.”
The Engineers will be back at it at home next week to play Anna Maria College.