RPI winds up with big win

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Jeff McCormick
Jeff McCormick had 18 tackles, 10 solo, in RPI's win against Alfred.
RPI athletics photo by Michael Fil

Watching from afar on Saturday, I saw the RPI-Alfred score and I was wowed to see the Engineers up 24-0 after one quarter against the nationally ranked Saxons on Homecoming at East Campus Athletic Village. After seeing some of the early struggles this season for RPI, I was glad to see them succeed -- because after all, parity is not a bad thing.

It was the Mike Hermann and Austin Caswell in the first, as the two connected on three scores in the initial 15 minutes of play.

But as we all know, games are 60 minutes long, and Alfred, to its credit, never quit or gave up.

It took a couple of quarters, but a touchdown pass to Ryan Thon with 8 seconds left in the third quarter tied the game at 24, and it was evident the contest could come down to the final possession.

Which is exactly what it did.

On the last drive for RPI, Hermann connected with Pat McCarthy for 25 yards with seconds remaining. With six seconds remaining in regulation, senior kicker Peter Nilson came on to make a 38-yard field goal, matching his career-long, to give RPI the upset win.

“We didn’t have much choice (to not go for the field goal),” said RPI coach Joe King on Tuesday. “We didn’t have much time left. Peter’s done the job for us for three years. I was thinking if we get a good snap and a good hold, he has a better than average chance of making it.”

But then Alfred called time out. Then a second time. Then once more.

“At that point, it’s a matter of not thinking about the pressure, just thinking about the emotion and everything I’ve worked on over the summer with my kicking coach,” Nilson told Andrew Santillo from the Troy Record.

“They tried to ice him three times, and he stayed loose and made the kick,” King said.

When asked if the NCAA should change the rule like the NFL where a team can’t call multiple timeouts to ice the kicker, he didn’t think they should.

“Everybody does it. I’m not sure how productive it is, but I think they should let them kick,” King said.

Nilson almost didn’t make it out to make his winning kick. He had been injured at a point in the Rochester game and didn’t practice very much during the bye week.

“I’m glad we had the bye for him to get healthier,” King said. “He started kicking on Tuesday and he didn’t do well, but he did better on Thursday. It’s a good thing we had him for Saturday.”

The long and windy road
Team Into the wind With the wind
Alfred 29 plays, 66 yards 51 plays, 303 yards
RPI 26 plays, 81 yards 37 plays, 208 yards

With the win and Union’s loss to St. Lawrence, RPI heads to Canton on Saturday with first place in the Liberty League on the line.

“St. Lawrence is a very dangerous team,” King said. “They have good kids on both sides, they’re well coached and they can hurt you in a number of ways. We’re going to have to play well to beat them.”

Hermann earned the Offensive Player of the Week award in the Liberty League for his productive day and Nilson earned the Special Teams player of the week award for his clutch kick.

“I hope we don’t have to have him make a kick like that, I don’t think I can take too many of those,” King said. “But if he does, I hope he can do it again.”

The last time RPI defeated a ranked opponent was Nov. 18, 2006, when the Engineers defeated Cortland State 26-7 in the ECAC Northeast Championship game.

In a career full of terrific moments, Delaware Valley senior tailback Matt Cook had yet another one on Saturday against Middle Atlantic Conference foe Wilkes. Cook was the offense for the Aggies, carrying the ball 42 times for 324 yards, a school record, and four touchdowns in their 30-18 win.

The record-setting performance crushed the old record of 254 set by Eric Reynolds against Albright in 1984. In the fourth quarter, having already broken the school record, Cook ran for 37 yards to go over 300 and seal the game for the Aggies.

No. 9 DVC had eight turnovers, and Cook’s performance was huge in keeping the Aggies unblemished in conference play.

Next week, DVC faces off against the other MAC unbeaten, Lycoming in what could be the best matchup of the weekend.

For Wilkes, Chris Horn kicked three field goals, from 29, 40 and 49 yards respectively.

Rowan upsets Cortland
The Profs knocked Cortland from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 20-17 win against the Red Dragons. Rowan’s junior running back Steve Hevalow ran for 139 yards on 27 carries and scored a touchdown to lead the Profs to the upset. In the fourth quarter, tight end Kevin DelleDonne caught a touchdown with about six minutes left in the game for the eventual game winning points.

Next week, Rowan visits Brockport in another New Jersey Athletic Conference matchup.

Despite the parity in the East, more East teams are either firmly entrenched in or sniffing it. Delaware Valley, Montclair State, St. John Fisher are all in it, while Alfred, Cortland State, Rowan and Lycoming are in the receiving votes category. Critics might point to a weak East, I say it shows the top to bottom strength of the conference.

Here’s proof: The Merchant Marine Academy beat Rochester for the first time in team history on Saturday, a 48-19 rout. Kings Point was 0-14 against the Yellowjackets until Saturday.

Sophomore Mariner John-Leon Gosselin rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns as the Mariners matched the number of conference wins, two, with their total from 2008 and 2009.

Another example: St. Lawrence surges into the lead by a game after beating Union 24-13 on Saturday.

Montclair State moved up two spots in the D3football.com poll to 14 after a 35-20 win over Buffalo State. Red Hawks quarterback Tom Fischer had an efficient day, completing 13 of 18 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns, three to Dan Keegan. Keegan had six catches overall for 133 yards as Montclair State kept its winning streak in conference alive at 14.

Despite beating Hartwick, St. John Fisher moved down a spot in the D3football.com poll to 19 after a 41-14 win.

The Cardinals set a school-record with eight interceptions against the Hawks, which is two shy of the NCAA record set by St. Thomas against St. Olaf in 1983.

Someone had to throw all those interceptions and most of them were courtesy of starting quarterback Kyle Morenus, who had six, two shy of the NCAA record for one game.

St. John Fisher sophomore Ryan Kramer had a career-high three touchdowns as the Cardinals improved to 7-0 on the season.

Odds and ends
Kean senior running back Jay Gwaltney had his second straight 200-yard rushing day, rushing for 209 yards on 26 carries and four touchdowns in a 35-14 win over Western Connecticut.

Sophomore Ty Hughes had a career day for Albright as the Lions bounced back from a rout against Lycoming with a 38-14 win over King’s. Hughes carried the ball 22 times for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Hughes had only rushed for 61 yards in his young career before Saturday.

Staying in the MAC, Josh Kleinfelter rushed for more than 100 yards for the fifth week in a row as the Warriors blasted Widener 31-7. Lycoming and Delaware Valley battle next week for MAC supremacy.

Springfield has proven it can win the track meets, rushing for an average of more than 400 yards this season, but on Saturday, the Pride proved they can win the defensive battles too, beating Utica 20-16. Josh Carter led the attack at quarterback for the Pride.

UC senior linebacker Travis Ladd had 16 tackles on the day, one of the highest totals in program history.

The College of New Jersey defense suffocated Morrisville, forcing the Mustangs into six interceptions in a 30-6 NJAC win.

Lebanon Valley senior running back Ben Guiles rushed for four touchdowns against FDU-Florham, tying a school record in a 33-21 win. All four touchdowns came in the second half as Guiles also crossed the 2,000-yard mark for his career.