Schenectady

Converted soccer player Bisson hits game-winning field goal as RPI beats Union football for Dutchman Shoes, Liberty League title

RPI kicker Trevor Bisson kicks the winning field goal to win the annual Dutchman Shoes game against Union on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Frank Bailey Field in Schenectady.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

RPI kicker Trevor Bisson kicks the winning field goal to win the annual Dutchman Shoes game against Union on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Frank Bailey Field in Schenectady.

SCHENECTADY — Until Saturday afternoon, Trevor Bisson had never seen a Union-RPI football game in-person — nor any RPI football game, to the best of his recollection — let alone played in one.

He’ll remember the first one forever.

Bisson wrapped up a stellar men’s soccer career at RPI last Saturday when the Engineers were eliminated from the Liberty League Tournament. Two days later, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native — who was a placekicker for three years in high school — got a call to see if he’d try out for the football team, which had lost starting kicker Conor MacDougall to an injury.

“I had a tryout [Monday],” Bisson said, “and we’re here now.”

Saturday, Bisson stepped onto Frank Bailey Field with four seconds left in the fourth quarter, with a 36-yard field goal attempt standing between RPI and the Dutchman Shoes Trophy — and the Liberty League championship, to boot.

Bang.

Bisson’s kick split the uprights to deliver the Shoes to RPI with an improbable 19-17 win, and with it an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament. It capped off a wild fourth quarter as the Engineers scored nine points in the game’s final 29 seconds to pull out a miraculous win as the rivalry returned after there was no game in 2020 when the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everything they’ve been through for the last year-and-a-half, two years . . .
everything you could imagine was stacked against us,” RPI coach Ralph Isernia said. “These guys overcame it. It’s incredible. I’m just so happy for these guys.”

“I’m just so happy for our team,” Bisson said. “God, it’s fantastic.”

For Union (4-2 Liberty League, 8-2 overall), the loss was a devastating end to what had been a promising regular season. The Dutchmen won their first eight games before losing last week at Ithaca, then had a 10-point lead slip through their grasp Saturday as RPI took back the Dutchman Shoes for the first time since 2017.

While Union was already eliminated from the Liberty League title chase heading into Saturday, a win would have made an at-large NCAA bid likely. The Dutchmen will find out Sunday at 5 p.m. if they’ve earned a spot in the 24-team field.

“They’re heartbroken and crushed right now,” Union head coach Jeff Behrman said. “But, I like the way they handled themselves after that game. Win or lose, they handled themselves with class.”

RPI (5-1, 9-1) trailed 17-7 when Union backup quarterback Donovan Pacatte scored on a 3-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Engineers answered with a long drive that resulted in a 26-yard Bisson field goal, then got the ball back and reeled off a 15-play, 80-yard drive that capped off with a 13-yard touchdown pass from George Marinopoulos to Vinnie McDonald with 29 seconds left.

After a timeout, RPI elected to go for the 2-point conversion, but Marinopoulos was unable to connect with Peter Lombardi, keeping Union up 17-16.

“I was bummed, because I missed the throw,” said Marinopoulos, who completed 20 of 29 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns. “I had a few guys come and pick me up on the sideline and say, ‘Hey. We’re going to get this onside kick and we’re going to score.’”

The ensuing onside kick was attempted from the 50-yard line following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Union following the 2-point conversion, with RPI’s Diego Fernandez kicking a skidding ball that Jimmy Leblo recovered in the scrum at the Union 38.

“The game’s not over until it’s over,” Behrman said. “That was proved today.”

Two passes from Marinopoulos to Sterling Walker-Sutton got the ball to the Union 20, and a spike set the stage for Bisson — the 2021 Liberty League Men’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Year — to etch his name into RPI football history.

You know, all of five days after he switched sports.

“He’s got a boom of a leg,” Isernia said.

Union’s offense sputtered through most of the day, with Ike Irabor limited to 58 yards on 31 carries and quarterback William Bellamy finishing the day 8 of 16 passing for 59 yards.

RPI’s offense was held in check for most of the day, but pulled a rabbit from its hat on the final play of the first half when Walker-Sutton came halfway across the field to haul in an underthrown Hail Mary attempt from Marinopoulos before breaking a tackle and scoring to get the Engineers within 10-7 at the half.

“They scored 10 points in the last two seconds of each half,” Behrman said. “They scored a touchdown, and they scored the game-winning field goal.

“Credit to them, they found ways to win.”

RPI 0 7 0 12 — 19

Union 3 7 0 7 — 17

U — Lau 36 field goal

U — Irabor 2 run (Lau kick)

RPI — Walker-Sutton 35 pass from Marinopoulos (Bisson kick)

U — Pacatte 3 run (Lau kick)

RPI — Bisson 26 field goal

RPI — McDonald 13 pass from Marinopoulos (pass failed)

RPI — Bisson 36 field goal

GREAT DANES WIN
SECOND STRAIGHT

ALBANY — It took a while, but UAlbany football is back to its winning ways.

One week after the Great Danes snapped a winless eight-game start to the season — and an 11-game overall losing skid — UAlbany wrapped up its home schedule Saturday by scoring 34 first-half points en route to a 41-14 non-conference win over Morgan State at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium.

“It was good to get out in front and play well early,” UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso said. “The first half we really dominated, we played very well and took advantage of mistakes. We were able to come out with a really good win, two in a row now.”

Running back Karl Mofor, a week after setting a school record with 45 rushing attempts for a career-best 222 yards, ran for three short touchdowns on his senior day and finished with 90 yards on 24 carries.

Meanwhile, the UAlbany passing game flourished, with Jeff Undercuffler throwing for 328 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing 17 of 31 passes. Roy Alexander and Ian Renninger each caught touchdowns, and tight end Thomas Greaney caught three passes for 113 yards, including a 73-yarder in the second quarter that set up a 1-yard Caylin Parker touchdown run.

UAlbany (2-8 overall) racked up five sacks on defense, with Jared Verse collecting a pair to give him 9 1/2 on the season.

The Great Danes erupted for 20 points in the second quarter to open up a 34-0 halftime lead before the game was delayed by more than an hour before the start of the second half due to thunder and lightning in the area.

UAlbany will wrap up its season next Saturday at rival Stony Brook.

Morgan St. 0 0 7 7 — 14

UAlbany 14 20 0 7 — 41

UA — Mofor 4 run (Burns kick)

UA — Renninger 4 pass from Undercuffler (Burns kick)

UA — Parker 1 run (kick failed)

UA — Alexander 23 pass from Undercuffler (Burns kick)

UA — Mofor 1 run (Burns kick)

MS — Kimbrough 17 run (Akubuo kick)

UA — Mofor 2 run (Burns kick)

MS — Kimbrough 4 run (Akubuo kick)

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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