No. 23 Football Headed to No. 13 Hopkins for NCAA Quarters
KICKOFF: The No. 23/RV Engineers (10-1; 4-1 Liberty League) travel to Johns Hopkins University to take on the No. 13/14 Blue Jays (11-1; 8-1 Centennial Conference) in an NCAA Playoffs Quarterfinals matchup. SECOND TIME: This game marks the second time Rensselaer has played in the NCAA Quarterfinals with the other coming in 2003 ... RPI defeated Ithaca 21-16 in Troy to advance to the national semifinals. SNOW BOWL: Rensselaer's other quarterfinals matchup came on December 6, 2003, and it was played in a major Nor'easter against Ithaca in Troy ... The Engineers prevailed 21-16 despite the 12.5 inches of snow that fell – a 24-hour snowfall record in the Capital Region for that day. FIRST MEETING: Saturday's game is the first between the Engineers and the Blue Jays ... Incidentally, the weather forecast calls for temperatures in the high 40s with 90% chance of rain (not snow). NCAA HISTORY: Rensselaer is playing in the NCAA Playoffs for the sixth time in its history ... The others were 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007 and 2017 ... The Engineers were defeated 45-27 at Wesley in the first round last year. BACK-TO-BACK: RPI's qualification for the NCAA Playoffs is its second straight ... The Engineers had never previously made consecutive appearances ... Johns Hopkins is playing in its eighth straight NCAA Playoffs ... It is its ninth in 10 years and 10th overall with all 10 coming since 2005. IN THE SECOND ROUND: RPI traveled to No. 3/4 Brockport last Saturday and defeated the Golden Eagles, 21-13 ... Johns Hopkins was also on the road, at No. 6/6 Frostburg St., which they beat, 58-27. IN THE FIRST ROUND: Rensselaer hosted Husson on November 17 and defeated the Eagles, 38-14 ... The Blue Jays also played at home, where they defeated MIT, 49-0. ALL-TIME IN NCAA GAMES: Rensselaer is 5-5 all-time in the NCAA Playoffs, including a trip to the National Semifinals in 2003 ... The Engineers defeated Curry (34-20), Springfield (40-34) and Ithaca (21-16) before losing at eventual national champion St. John's (38-10) in Minnesota. ALL-TIME IN POST-SEASON: RPI has played in the post-season 17 times, all since 1992 ... It has 12 ECAC games and five NCAA Playoffs appearances ... The Engineers are 10-2 all-time in ECAC Bowls and 15-7 overall. POST-SEASON STREAK: Including this season, Rensselaer is playing in the post-season for the fifth straight year ... The Engineers qualified for ECAC Bowls in 2014, 2015 and 2016, going 2-1. HOW THEY GOT HERE: RPI earned its berth by winning the Liberty League title with a 4-1 mark ... The Engineers tied Ithaca, but earned the right to the national tournament based on a 10-9 head-to-head victory ... Johns Hopkins won the Centennial Conference with an 8-1 record for its automatic berth ... The Blue Jays tied No. 22/23 Muhlenberg, but earned the bid based on a 27-16 head-to-head victory. NO ONE IN COMMON: The Engineers and Johns Hopkins have no common opponents. LAST WEEK'S GAME: Senior Nick Cella rushed for two touchdowns and RPI forced five turnovers and blocked a punt as the No. 23/RV Engineers defeated No. 3/4 Brockport 21-13 ... Cella ran 27 times for 73 yards and the two scores against a team that was allowing minus-2.3 rushing yards per game entering the contest ... As a team, the Engineers totaled 106 yards on 33 attempts ... Junior linebacker John Sadak had two interceptions, while Jack Hoggard, Amaechi Konkwo and Alec Hazard each recovered fumbles ... Kyle Samuels blocked a punt, which set up Cella's first touchdown ... Hoggard and Luke Watanabe had 10 tackles apiece with Watanabe adding a forced fumble and two PBUs. ROUND 1: Rensselaer compiled 446 yards of offense, while the defense held Husson to 48 yards rushing and scored a touchdown of its own in a 38-14 win in an NCAA Playoffs First Round contest ... The score was 7-7 until RPI hit on a 34-yard Hail Mary to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room ... The Engineers scored 10 more points before the Eagles got back on the board in the fourth quarter ... Two late TDs by RPI added to the final margin. ON OFFENSE: Rensselaer had 173 rushing yards (36 attempts) and 273 yards through the air with sophomore George Marinopoulos (16 of 26) throwing three touchdown passes ... Senior Nick Cella gained 123 yards on 18 carries and classmate Keaton Ackermann caught six passes for 150 yards with a 12-yard touchdown. DEFENSE: Senior Luke Watanabe had an 89-yard interception return for a touchdown along with five tackles ... Linebacker Jack Hoggard also had an interception, which he returned 26 yards, with 10 tackles (3 solo) ... Junior linebacker John Sadak led all players with 16 tackles, including seven unassisted. HONORED: Following their performances against Husson, Rensselaer's George Marinopoulos and Jack Hoggard were chosen as the Liberty League Offensive and Defensive Performers of the Week, respectively ... It was the first time either has been selected this season. TEN WINS: The football program's record for wins in a season is 11 games, which was accomplished in 2003 ... No team has ever finished with 10 and three (1997, 1999, 2015) have won nine games. BY CLASS: The Rensselaer Class of 2019 has won 33 games, which is the most in school history ... Three previous classes (1996, 2005, 2006) had 32 victories. RENSSELAER IN THE REGULAR SEASON: The Engineers began the campaign with eight straight wins before suffering a regular season finale loss to finish 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference. EIGHT WINS: Rensselaer's eight wins were the second most in the regular season in school history ... Nine other teams accomplished that feat with the most recent being in 2017 ... The school record is nine, which happened in 1999 (9-0). LEAGUE & NON-LEAGUE: RPI was 4-1 in the Liberty League and 4-0 out-of-conference during the regular season ... The league wins were against Ithaca, St. Lawrence, Rochester and Hobart ... The loss came to Union ... The non-league wins were against Allegheny, WPI and Buffalo State. HOME & AWAY: Rensselaer was 5-1 at East Campus Stadium and is 5-0 on the road in 2018 ... The road wins came at Ithaca, Rochester, Allegheny, Utica and Brockport. ALL-LEAGUE: RPI had 14 All-Liberty League student-athletes, including the Co-Special Teams Player of the Year in Conor Davies and the Coaching Staff of the Year, led by Ralph Isernia ... Davies, a return specialist, was one of eight on the First Team ... Four others were chosen to the Second Team and two were Honorable Mention. RECORD HOLDER: Senior Conor Davies holds the school records for punt returns in a career (63), punt return yardage in a career (990) and punt return yardage in a season (407 in 2016) ... He also has 832 career kick return yards, including 639 this season. FIRST TEAM: Rensselaer had two All-Liberty League First Team choices on offense, four on defense and two on special teams: Bobby Boos (OL), Chris Neu (OL), Amaechi Konkwo (DL), Jack Hoggard (LB), John Sadak (LB), Luke Watanabe (DB), Conor Davies (ATH & RS) and Zac Montrief (P). SECOND TEAM: Rensselaer had two All-Liberty League Second Team choices on offense, one on defense and one on special teams: Nick Cella (RB), Aaron Castillo (OL), DJ Stefonsky (DB) and Sanjay Krishnan (K). HONORABLE MENTION: Rensselaer had two All-Liberty League Honorable Mentions with senior Rohan Cherian-Ashe and Antonio Rogliano being tabbed ... They are both defensive linemen. REPEATS: Bobby Boos, Chris Neu, Amaechi Konkwo, Zac Montrief and Conor Davies have now been All-League in multiple seasons ... Neu is a three-time honoree with two First Team selections. ALL-ACADEMIC: Rensselaer landed 22 student-athletes on the Liberty League All-Academic team (3.30 cumulative GPA as at least a sophomore) ... They are Angelo Aita, Marc Anderson, Matt Boone, Aaron Castillo, Austin Charles, Riley Conboy, Joe Cuomo, Quinn Fettig, Jakob Grant, Jack Hoggard, Maliek Kelly, Sanjay Krishnan, Paul Marinan, George Marinopolous, Rory McCarthy, Zac Montrief, John Sadak, Nick Smith, Cole Valinoti, Luke Watanabe and Brendan Zotti. ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: The recently revealed CoSIDA Academic All-District teams included six Engineers ... They are Jack Hoggard (LB), George Marinopolous (QB), Zac Montrief (P), Cole Valinoti(DL), Luke Watanabe (DB) and Brendan Zotti (DB) ... Hoggard, Marinopolous and Valinoti are business and management majors ... Montrief is in aeronautical engineering, Watanabe in computers and systems engineering and Zotti in mechanical engineering. VS. UNION: Ike Irabor scored three touchdowns and the Union defense forced five turnovers as the Dutchmen defeated Rensselaer, 34-10 ... The Engineers jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Union scored 20 straight points ... RPI was led offensively by Nick Cella, who carried 23 times for 115 yards and a 1-yard touchdown ... Jack Hoggard finished with 11 tackles, including six unassisted and 1.5 for lost yards (2) ... He also had a 17-yard fumble return ... Luke Watanabe (2 solo) and Jack Fallon (1 solo) added eight stops with Fallon forcing a fumble. VS. ST. LAWRENCE: Senior Conor Davies scored a pair of touchdowns and the RPI defense held St. Lawrence to only 19 yards rushing as the Engineers defeated the Saints, 27-20, to clinch the Liberty League title and the bid into the NCAA Playoffs. AT ROCHESTER: The Engineers were in total control from start to finish in a 42-0 victory ... RPI ran for three touchdowns, passed for two others and recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone for another score ... The defense held the Yellowjackets to an even 100 yards of total offense – 11 rushing on 23 carries and 89 passing ... The Engineers piled up 372 yards – 221 on the ground. VS. HOBART: Four student-athletes scored touchdowns and Rensselaer built a 24-3 second half lead on its way to defeating Hobart, 31-24 ... RPI finished with 154 rushing yards, including 80 and a touchdown from Nick Cella on 20 attempts, and 256 passing yards for 410 total ... Conor Davies caught three balls for 63 yards, while also rushing for 69 yards and a touchdown and picking up 66 return yards (59 on kickoffs) ... Juniors Andres Guisasola and John Sadak both had 12 tackles with Guisasola collecting eight unassisted, one for a loss and a PBU. AT ITHACA: The Engineers held off the Bombers, 10-9 in Ithaca ... RPI jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a 23-yard field goal by Sanjay Krishnan ... Rensselaer later went ahead 10-3 on a two-yard, third quarter touchdown run by Nick Cella ... The Bombers pulled to within a point on a deflected touchdown catch with no time left in regulation but they failed on an extra point kick (blocked) and a two-point conversion attempt ... Cella finished with a game-high 73 yards rushing on 23 carries ... John Sadak led the Engineers with 11 tackles, including five unassisted and one for a 5-yard loss, along with an interception. VS. BUFFALO STATE: In a 44-14 victory, the Engineers totaled 501 yards of offense, including 343 rushing ... Nick Cella led the Engineers with 131 yards on only 12 carries, including a 65-yard touchdown ... Freshman Joe Scaglione ran for 72 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and senior J.T. Kelly had 67 yards and a score on 11 attempts ... Jack Hoggard led all players with 13 tackles (2 unassisted), along with two pass breakups ... Luke Watanabe had eight stops (1 solo). AT UTICA: Sanjay Krishnan made two field goals in overtime and DJ Stefonsky sealed the win with an interception in the end zone as RPI defeated Utica, 23-20, in triple overtime ... The Pioneers had a chance to win with four seconds left in regulation, but RPI's Rohan Cherian-Ashe blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt to send the game to overtime ... George Marinopoulos threw for 198 yards on 25 of 45 completions, while freshman Dylan Burnett had a team-high 72 yards on 13 carries and one TD ... Stefonsky finished with six solo tackles and two interceptions, both in the end zone ... Jack Hoggard had a game-high 16 tackles, including one tackle for loss. VS. WPI: George Marinopoulos threw three touchdown passes, two to classmate Nick Smith, and the defense intercepted four passes as the Engineers retained the Transit Trophy with a 25-14 victory over WPI ... Rensselaer jumped out to a 19-0 lead against the Engineers ... WPI battled to within one score, 19-14, before RPI got back on the board. AT ALLEGHENY: Rob Law scored two rushing touchdowns and another receiving, compiling 141 yards in total, and the defense forced six turnovers to lead Rensselaer to a 40-19 victory ... Law carried the ball six times for 57 yards with scores of 30 and 14 yards, and had 84 receiving yards with a 71-yard touchdown ... As a receiver, he had three catches ... Rensselaer's defense had four interceptions, including an 89-yard pick-six by senior DJ Stefonsky for a 23-10 lead with 9:24 left in the third quarter ... Senior linebacker Jack Hoggard led the team in tackles with 12, including seven unassisted and two for lost yards (4). THANK YOU SENIORS: The Engineers have 24 seniors who are finishing their careers when the 2018 season comes to an end.