Pioneers Fall To RPI On Homecoming Weekend

By Sports WKTV

UTICA, NY - The Utica College football team lost to visiting RPI 24-10 Saturday afternoon on the turf at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium. After a near stalemate in the first half the Engineers turned on the offense, producing 278 yards of total offense in the second half, while creating five turnovers as they earned their second consecutive victory.

The Pioneers entered the contest with a 1-5 all-time record against the Engineers with their last victory coming in 2004 when UC defeated RPI 9-7. With the loss, the Pioneers dropped to 0-3 overall, while the Engineers remain undefeated and improved to 2-0. UC returns to action after a bye week, on Oct. 4 when they travel to Springfield College for their Empire 8 Conference opener at 2 p.m. The Engineers will host WPI next weekend in the Transit Trophy game at ’86 field. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

The first half was a defensive battle as both teams compiled less than 100 yards of offense and the two teams exchanged field goals to knot the contest at 3-3 at the half. Other than the two field goals, the first half featured nine punts and just one turnover when RPI senior quarterback Jimmy Robertson (Yonkers, NY / Iona Prep) tossed a 15 yard pass down the sideline that was deflected and eventually picked off by UC sophomore linebacker Kevin Hennion (Dumont/Dumont, NJ). The interception gave the Pioneers excellent field position but they could only capitalize with a field goal by junior kicker Casey McNulty (Red Hook/Red Hook) at the 7:20 mark of the first quarter to give UC an early 3-0 lead.

RPI was able to tie the game up at 3-3 with just over two minutes left in the half when Peter Nilson ( Appleton, WI /Kimberly) knocked home a 23 yard field goal to cap an eight play, 63 yard drive.

The second half scoring was opened by RPI when Robertson rolled out to the right and could not find a receiver but decided to tuck it away and run 11 yards for the score. Nilson pulled the extra point wide left and the Engineers led 9-3 with 7:09 left in the third quarter. Robertson’s touchdown drive which lasted 2:33 was eight plays and 63 yards long.

UC responded with a touchdown of its own to knot the game up at 9-9 on the first play of the fourth quarter and McNulty buried the extra point to give the Pioneers their second lead of the contest, 10-9. Freshman quarterback Christian Bochicchio (Notre Dame/Warsaw) connected with senior captain Jim Pincher (Christian Brothers Academy/Albany) on a crossing pattern in the end zone. The touchdown marked the first of Bochicchio’s career. Freshman tailback
William Northey (Sherburne-Earlville/
led the eight play, 81 yard drive with 30 yards of his own on the ground. He ended the day with a career-high 98 yards rushing.

RPI took the lead back just over 11 minutes later and they never looked back. With 3:47 left in the fourth quarter Eren Savasli (Brooklyn, NY / Brooklyn Tech) caught a nine yard touchdown pass from Robertson and the Engineers converted the ensuing two point conversion to give RPI a 17-10 lead. The RPI defense picked off a Bochicchio pass on the next drive and sophomore runningback Nick Costa ( Yonkers, NY / Iona Prep) put the game out of reach just four plays later on a 33 yard touchdown scamper to seal the victory for the Engineers. Costa, the reigning Liberty League Offensive Player of the Week, closed out the day with a game-high 107 yards rushing.

Robertson completed 22-of-31 passes for 231 yards in the air, while Patrick McCarthy ( Strafford, NH / Spaulding) led the Engineers receiving corps with ten catches for 86 yards. Savasli caught four balls for 56 yards and a touchdown for RPI.

Bochicchio completed 14 passes for 120 yards in his collegiate debut, but he also threw three costly interceptions. Junior stand out receiver Cody Elliot (John F. Kennedy/Sloan) posted 97 all-purpose yards on the day. He caught seven passes for 37 yards, rushed the ball four times for 24 yards and returned a total of three kicks for 38 yards. Pincher finished the day with three grabs for 29 yards and a touchdown.

On the defensive side of the ball Justin Foglia ( Watervliet, NY / Catholic Central) led the way for the Engineers posting six tackles, one interception and he also recovered a fumble that he forced. Alex Kelsen ( Skaneateles, NY / Skaneateles) posted a team-high seven tackles for RPI and it proved to be a true team defensive effort as 13 different players registered at least three tackles for the Engineers.

Junior captain Eric Kahl (Spencer-Van Etten/Lockwood) and classmate Sean Dixon (Vernon Verona Sherrill/Sherrill) both had career days on the defense for UC. Kahl tallied a career-high 17 tackles and posted a sack, while Dixon made a career-best 11 stops. Junior free safety Peter Vano (Mahopac/Mahopac) rounded out the double-digit tacklers for UC with 10 stops on the day, while sophomore linebacker Terrell Cunningham (Marshall/Rochester) made seven tackles including one for a loss of four yards.

RPI closed out the day with 366 yards of total offense compared to UC’s 252 yards. The Engineers ran the ball 44 times for a game-high 135 yards as a team, out rushing the Pioneers by just three yards. The Pioneers struggled on third down, converting just 1-of-11, while the Engineers were able to convert on third down 6-of-18 tries.

The Pioneers contest in two weeks against the Pride of Springfield College will be broadcast live on and streaming live on the web at Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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