TROY, N.Y. (ITHACA ATHLETICS) –
The nationally ranked No. 16/18 Ithaca College football team embarked on an overnight road trip to face off against the undefeated RPI Engineers on Saturday afternoon in a Liberty League matchup. With the Bombers having three consecutive wins under their belt, including last week’s home victory against Hobart College, Ithaca wanted to maintain their momentum. IC did just that, defeating RPI, 20-17, in overtime on a 34-yard field goal by Derek Baldin.
The Bombers secured the opening kickoff after winning the toss and began their drive at the 35-yard line. However, the first drive of the day was short-lived as quarterback A.J. Wingfield threw an interception. RPI took the ball at their own 9-yard line. The Engineers managed to string together four consecutive first downs, but Jake Conolly intercepted RPI’s Jake Kazanowsky, giving IC possession at their own 41-yard line.
Ithaca’s next offensive possession ended with a 42-yard punt by Darren Brunner. Following Conolly’s interception, the Bombers made their way into RPI territory, facing a challenging 3rd-and-7 situation that pushed RPI back to its own 20-yard line.
RPI responded with a strong drive of their own on their second offensive possession. The Engineers advanced 60 yards down the field, which eventually led to Kazanowsky connecting with Gil Goldsmith for a 22-yard touchdown pass with just 1:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Ithaca’s offense quickly retaliated with a well-executed drive that resulted in Derek Baldin kicking a field goal, bringing the score to 7-3. Following the kickoff to RPI, the Bombers forced a fumble on third down, and defensive tackle Joshua Miles made the recovery.
Starting from RPI’s 39-yard line, the Bombers orchestrated a drive that included a crucial fourth-down conversion with a pass caught by Ben Marinaccio. After a quick rush up the middle, Ithaca got creative, leading to a 19-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Julien Deumaga to Jalen Leonard-Osbourne with six minutes remaining in the first half.
The Bombers finished the half strong. Conolly made another big-time interception, and IC was in possession deep within their own territory which led the Bombers to run out the clock for the remainder of the first half.
As the second half began, the score stood at 10-7 in favor of Ithaca. Both teams played strong defensively to close out the first half, and Ithaca had tallied up 142 rushing yards on the ground.
The third quarter turned into a defensive battle, with neither Ithaca nor RPI managing to put points on the board. However, the fourth quarter is where the game took a turn. With just nine minutes remaining, RPI’s Kazanowsky found a receiver in the endzone, giving RPI the lead at 14-10.
Following an Ithaca punt and an RPI fumble, the Bombers took possession at their own 15-yard line with approximately three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Wingfield led the IC offense down to the RPI 29-yard line in a two-minute offense before taking a huge hit during an 18-yard rush. This hit temporarily sidelined Wingfield, and backup quarterback Colin Shumm stepped onto the field. Shumm rushed for a quick four-yard gain, and it wasn’t long before Wingfield returned to action. Wingfield delivered a beautiful pinpoint pass over the linebacker’s head to find Leonard-Osbourne in the endzone for a touchdown, putting the Bombers ahead 17-14 with 50 seconds left in the game.
Starting at its own 25-yard line, RPI had just 50 seconds to mount a drive and give its kicker an opportunity to tie the game. Kazanowsky completed four passes, setting up RPI for a game-tying field goal that sent the contest into overtime.
RPI opened overtime with possession. After driving all the way down to the Ithaca 8-yard line, Kazanowsky was sacked by Isiah Couser for a loss of 16 yards. Couser’s sack was quite possibly the biggest play of the game, which led to a blocked field goal due to the inside pressure forced by Jonathan Koumas and Jason Green, and a leaping Derek Slywka blocked the kick with his facemask.
The Bombers gained possession at their own 25 for their first overtime possession. After two rushes by Leonard-Osbourne, IC’s Derek Baldin nailed a 34-yard field goal attempt to seal the victory, 20-17.
The matchup between Ithaca and RPI unfolded in a familiar fashion, much like previous years. It was a gritty contest, marked by physicality right from the opening snap. The Bombers’ veteran offensive line showed how dominant they are, as the offense concluded the game with 219 rushing yards, averaging five yards per carry. Wingfield led the attack with 101 yards on 15 carries, while Leonard-Osbourne ran for 82 yards.
Connolly led the defense with 11 total tackles and a sack to go along with his two interceptions. Slywka added 10 tackles and the blocked field goal.
Meanwhile, RPI found success through the air, accumulating 250 passing yards; nevertheless, IC’s secondary was not fazed.
Ithaca will look to win five in a row next Saturday, October 14th with a 1pm home game against Union College.