TROY, N.Y. – George Marinopolous and Peter Lombardi connected on a pair of touchdown passes and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football team kept its perfect record intact, defeating Buffalo State College 24-16 in a Liberty League contest at East Campus Stadium. The No. 25 Engineers are now 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference, while the Bengals drop to 0-5 and 0-2.
Rensselaer made it 7-0 when it marched down the field on its first possession. After the defense forced a three-and-out, which set up the offense on its own 39-yard line, Marinopolous found Lombardi in the front right corner of the end zone from 19 yards out on the seventh play of a drive that covered 61 yards in 3:32. The TD pass was the 17th of the year for Marinopolous, a graduate student, and the fifth to Lombardi, a senior.
The Bengals answered three minutes into the second quarter with a 12-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a Nick Sciandra 30-yard field goal. Buffalo State used 5:11 off the clock.
Marinopolous and Lombardi connected with another back-shoulder throw to the right front side of the end zone with 1:47 remaining in the second quarter for a 14-7 lead. The field position was set up by a 48-yard screen pass to running back Dylan Burnett, who broke several tackles while running down the right side of the field.
Conor MacDougall made it a 14-point lead with a 27-yard field goal with 3:02 to play in the third quarter.
RPI built its lead to 24-3 following a turnover late in the third quarter. Senior Shafia Langford forced a fumble that Jimmy Leblo recovered in Buffalo State territory. Two plays later, freshman quarterback Jake Kazanowsky threw a 31-yard pass to Vinnie McDonald in the end zone as time expired in the frame.
The Bengals scored two late fourth-quarter touchdowns for the final margin. Quarterback Cam Sionko ran in with 2:39 remaining, scampering to the front right corner of the end zone, diving in to beat the defense. He then threw a 36-yard pass that Nas Jackson snared in the end zone by out-jumping a pair of defensive backs. Because time had expired, no point-after was attempted.
Sionko, a junior, finished with 168 passing yards (18 of 30) and 40 rushing. Senior Omar Robinson had a team-best 69 yards on the ground on 21 carries and Cam Crosier caught seven passes for 66 yards. Justin Jones, a sophomore defensive back, made nine tackles with five unassisted and 1.5 for lost yards.
Senior linebacker Cole McGrath had a game-high 11 stops, including six unassisted, and three others had seven tackles for the Engineers. Marinopolous was 15 of 21 for 194 yards with nine receptions by Lombardi, who had 88 receiving yards. Burnett had 57 yards on three catches, along with 23 yards on the ground.
Rensselaer hits the road next Saturday when it plays at Hobart College at 1 p.m. The Bengals host the University of Rochester next Saturday at 4 p.m.
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