Last Second Field Goal Lifts RPI Over Hobart, 24-21

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TROY, N.Y. – Senior Peter Nilson kicked a 34-yard field goal with no time remaining in regulation to lift the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football team to a 24-21 victory over Hobart College in a Liberty League contest at East Campus Stadium.  The win improves the Engineers to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the league.  The Statesmen also fall to 5-3 and 3-2 and had their chance for a league championship ended.

Hobart tied the game at 21-21 with 1:15 remaining in the fourth quarter but sophomore quarterback Mike Hermann (Hardeeville, SC/Avon Old Farms) led RPI from their own 41-yard line to the Hobart 16-yard line to set up Nilson.  The key plays of the drive included 23-yard and 11-yard completions to sophomore Austin Caswell (Round Rock, TX/Stony Point).  RPI then ran the ball to the middle of the field to set up Nilson (Appleton, WI/Kimberly), who drilled the 34-yard field goal – his second game-winning kick of the season – through the middle of the uprights as time expired.

Hermann, who was knocked out of the game briefly due to injury, finished the contest by completing 20 of 30 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown.  He was not intercepted.  He also rushed for 18 yards and caught a 42-yard touchdown pass.  Senior Pat McCarthy (Strafford, NH/Spaulding) was the top receiver in the game with six catches for 77 yards, while Caswell caught five passes for 38 yards.

Defensively for the Engineers, junior linebacker Ray Pasco (Fort Edward, NY/Hudson Falls) enjoyed a career day with nine tackles, including five solos and 3.0 key sacks for losses of 17, 10 and two yards, respectively.  He also intercepted a pass.  Senior Colin King (Glenmont, NY/Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk) had a game-high 10 tackles (5 solos) for RPI, which held Hobart to 117 rushing yards.

For the Statesmen, first-year strong safety Devin Worthington (Rochester, NY/Worcester Academy) had eight tackles, including 1.5 sacks (11 yards lost), 2.0 tackles for lost yards (15) and a blocked kick, denying a Nilson field goal attempt in the second quarter.  Drake Woodard (Marcy, NY/Whitesboro) added seven tackles (4 solos) for Hobart, who kept the Engineers to just 79 yards rushing.

Offensively, junior quarterback Doug Vella (Franklin Square, NY/Chaminade) completed 15 of 29 passes for 238 yards.  He was intercepted twice and sacked four times.  Vella also had two short rushing touchdowns.  First-year running back Steven Webb (Dundee, NY/Dundee) led the ground attack with 83 yards, including 54 on the visitors' first drive of the game, and a touchdown.  Junior wide receiver Garth Muratori (Briarcliff Manor, NY/Briarcliff) had a game-high 90 yards receiving on four catches.

Hobart jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its first drive, taking advantage of the running game to march 60 yards on eight plays in 3:42.  Seven of the Statesmen's eight plays were on the ground, highlighted by runs of 19, 17 and 16 from Webb.  Vella finished the series with a 1-yard plunge with 8:45 left in the first quarter.

The Engineers tied the game at 9:37 of the second quarter when senior wide receiver Ray Davis (Worcester, MA/South High Community) took a lateral and heaved a pass across the field to Hermann, who caught the ball running down the left side and scored.  The drive was set up by Pasco's interception, his fourth of the season.  RPI increased its advantage to 14-7 with just 22 seconds left in the half when Hermann found Bryan Carmody (Rochester, NY/Greece Athena) in the back of the end zone to culminate a 13-play, 71-yard drive that ate up 4:42.

Rensselaer increased its lead to two touchdowns at 12:33 of the third quarter when sophomore defensive back Dustin Schuld (East Brunswick, NJ/East Brunswick) recovered a muffed punt in the end zone.  Hobart's Kevin Grogan (West Nyack, NY/Clarkstown South) attempted a fair catch at the 20-yard line but could not handle the ball, which found its way into the end zone after several players tried to pick it up.  Schuld fell on it and the Engineers led, 21-7.

The Statesmen pulled to within seven points when Vella capped a 9-play, 50-yard drive with 4:30 left in the third quarter with a 1-yard run.  He set up the score with the help of a 20-yard completion to Muratori on a third-and-20 play that brought the ball to the RPI 3-yard line.

After both teams traded punts on several occasions in the fourth quarter, Webb scored on a 2-yard run on a drive that started on the Hobart 49-yard line.  Vella completed two passes (12 & 24 yards) to Junior Woodard (Marcy, NY/Whitesboro) and Webb rushed for 15 yards in the series.  The extra point by backup kicker Reyes Guevara (Huntington, NY/Elwood-John H. Glenn) tied the score at 21-21.

RPI, which lost to the Statesmen on a last-second field goal the last time the two teams played in Troy (2008), concludes the regular season at Merchant Marine next Saturday.  Hobart hosts Rochester next Saturday.  Both games are Liberty League contests that begin at noon.