No.22 Rensselaer Uses Big Second Half to Drop Saints, 44-8
Oct. 25: The St. Lawrence University football team pulled to within one score of 22nd-ranked Rensselaer at
16-8 early in the third quarter at Leckonby Stadium on Saturday afternoon when sophomore quarterback JP Kearney connected with senior wide receiver Ryan Cooney for an 11-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion. However, the touchdown only seemed to motivate the visiting Engineers, who rattled off 28 straight points to close the game and drop the Saints, 44-8.
Despite continuous rain throughout the game, both Kearney and Rensselaer quarterback Jimmy Robertson had solid outings. Kearney was 13-of-24 passing for 94 yards, a touchdown and an interception while Robertson was 23-of-34 for 273 yards and four scores. St. Lawrence simply did not have an answer for wide receiver Eren Savasli, who made 11 catches for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Turnovers, which have haunted St. Lawrence (0-7, 0-4) all season, continued to plague the offense in the first half and allowed Rensselaer (6-0, 4-0) to take a 16-0 lead into intermission. After a fumble on the Saints' opening drive gave RPI great field position at the home team's 23-yard line, Robertson found Mike Fil for a seven yard touchdown to put the visitors on top 6-0 only 2:38 seconds into the game. Peter Nilson's extra point was no good, though, as the kick hit the right upright.
After the team's exchanged drives that accumulated little yardage, St. Lawrence had their first scoring chance midway through the first quarter after a blocked punt by first-year student Jarell Roberts gave the Saints the football at RPI's 34-yard line. Thanks to a clutch first down catch by senior Ryan Cooney, the home team was able to work the ball down to the visitor's 9-yard line before being forced to try a 26-yard field goal. However, senior Matt Popov's kick sailed wide right and kept the score at 6-0.
St. Lawrence's defense, anchored by junior defensive tackle Gerard Bryant, did a nice job of containing Robertson and his offense in the first half. The Saints' unit was dealt a tough hand, though, as Kearney's only interception of the game came on his own 30 yard line by Stefan Schulz, who returned the pick down to the
St. Lawrence 22-yard line. With the short field, Robertson went to work and found Patrick McCarthy on the
4-yard line for a 12-yard pick up. Two players later, the Engineers were celebrating a 2-yard score by Bob Munier, as the extra point gave RPI a 13-0 lead with 6:20 to play in the second quarter.
Rensselaer would stretch their lead to 16-0 just before halftime as Robertson orchestrated a 9-play, 73 yard drive that took only 1:52 to get the Engineers in field goal range. Robertson was able to work the ball around the field to Fil, McCarthy and Savasli and give Nilson a field goal try from 26 yards out, which he drilled through the uprights with only 45 seconds to play in the first half.
The Saints would answer on their opening drive of the third quarter, as Kearney and company went 57 yards in 10 plays to cut their deficit in half. A 15-yard personal foul penalty gave the home team a fresh set of downs at the RPI 38-yard line, and sophomore Alcee Walker's 15-yard pick up on a reverse moved the ball to the 22. On 2nd-and-10 from the 11-yard line, Kearney found Cooney wide open in the end zone for the score to cut the lead to 16-6. The duo then hooked up on the ensuing two-point conversion to make it 16-8.
Robertson and the RPI offense wasted little time in responding to the score, as they took the next possession 49 yards in four plays in only 1:13 to build the lead back to 23-8. Robertson hooked up for a 26-yard touchdown strike with McCarthy who made an acrobatic catch in the end zone, while Nilson added the point after.
St. Lawrence did little on the following drive, as Rensselaer's defense forced a three-and-out. Popov's punt was received by Fil at the RPI 23, and thanks to some quality blocking down field and a few impressive moves, he took the ball 73 yards for a touchdown to build the lead to 30-8 with the extra point.
Robertson wasn't done in the third quarter, though, as he completed 5-of-6 passes on the following Rensselaer drive including four completions for 12 yards or more. With his team facing a 4th-down and 13 from the
St. Lawrence 20-yard line, Robertson showed why he is the Liberty League's top passer as he threw a bullet across his body into the end zone for Savasli who made the 20-yard touchdown reception to push the lead to 37-8 after Nilson's extra point was good.
The Robertson-Savasli combo was good for one more score in the fourth quarter, as they capped the game's scoring with a 23-yard touchdown completion with 11:27 remaining in the game. The touchdown capped a six play, 63-yard drive, and with the extra point, brought the game to the final score of 44-8.
Junior tail back Connor Hackett finished with 34 yards rushing to lead St. Lawrence, while Munier was the leading rusher for Rensselaer with 40 yards on nine carries. Bryant led all players in tackles with 13 including seven solo stops. Joe Albano was the leading tackler for Rensselaer's defense, which is tops in the conference as well, finishing with 12 stops including 0.5 for a loss.
St. Lawrence will look to snap their seven-game skid when they travel to Susquehanna University next weekend to take on the Crusaders. Kick-off is set for 1:00pm.