Rensselaer Keeps NCAA Playoff Hopes Alive

More news about: RPI

TROY, N.Y. - Senior Jeff Avery connected with classmateLogan Gaddar on a 44-yard touchdown with 5:17 left in the fourth quarter to lift the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football team to a 17-14 victory over Springfield College in a Liberty League contest at East Campus Stadium. With the win, the Engineers improve to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the league, keeping RPI's hopes of a conference championship intact. The Pride fall to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the league. 

The Engineers are tied with St. Lawrence University for first place in the league standings. Should Rensselaer win and the Saints lose in next week's season finales, RPI wins the league championship and an automatic bid into the NCAA Playoffs. If both teams win or both teams lose, they will be co-champions and St. Lawrence will have the automatic berth based on its win over RPI (24-21). The Engineers travel to Union College for the Dutchman Shoes Trophy Game on Saturday, while the Saints host Merchant Marine Academy in Canton, N.Y. Both games begin at noon.

Trailing 14-10 in the final frame, Rensselaer regained the ball at its own 48 yard line with 6:38 to play after forcing Springfield to punt. Sophomore Mike Tivinis (Middleton, MA / Masconomet Regional) carried for 12 yards and then six yards for a 2nd-and-4 on the Springfield 34 yard line. A holding penalty on the Engineers on the next play, an incomplete pass from Avery to Gaddar, pushed the ball back to the 44 yard line. However, the twosome connected on the subsequent snap with Avery throwing a high-arcing pass that Gaddar ran under on the left hashmark at the 10-yard line and carried into the end zone. Sophomore Christian Kapp (Amawalk, NY / Iona Prep) added the extra point for a 17-14 advantage.

Springfield started its next drive on its own 16-yard line and ran for 12 yards, two yards, three yards and two yards to set up a 4th-and-3 from its own 35 yard line. RPI senior linebacker Mark Grimes(Hackettstown, NJ / Hackettstown) and junior down lineman Thomas Bennett (St. Petersburg, FL / St. Petersburg) combined to stop Pride quarterback Jake Eglintine (Gansevoort, NY / Saratoga Springs) for no gain on a keeper and RPI took over on downs. Rensselaer got a first down on a 4th-and-5 completion from Avery to Gaddar and ran out the clock to improve to 5-0 at home and register its most wins since 2008 (8-2). 

It was Eglintine who gave Springfield the lead with the only points of the third quarter when he ran 88 yards on a quarterback keeper with 4:58 left in the stanza. The sophomore was nearly dropped for a loss before eluding several tacklers, using his blockers while cutting across the field and running down the right sideline for the score. It was his second long touchdown run of the day, following a 60 yard scamper that put the Pride ahead 7-0 at 8:59 of the first quarter. The Liberty League's leading rusher, Eglintine finished with 192 yards on 24 carries. He completed his only pass attempt, connecting with Nick Valles (Danvers, MA / Danvers) for 12 yards. 

Rensselaer answered Springfield's touchdown with a touchdown of its own on the very next drive. Following a 29-yard kickoff return from Gaddar that started the series on the RPI 44 yard line, the Engineers ran nine plays in 3:39, capped by a one-yard run by senior Austin Amery (Castleton, VT / Fair Haven) with 5:17 to play in the first quarter. The Engineers took a 10-7 lead into halftime when Kapp made a 30-yard field goal with three seconds left in the second quarter.

Avery completed 14 of 33 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. He has now thrown 19 touchdown passes with just one interception through nine games. He also ran for 22 yards on seven attempts. Gaddar had a game-high six receptions for 95 yards and the score, which gives him eight TDs. SeniorNick Schlatz (Bridgewater, MA / Bridgewater-Raynham) led the ground game with 57 yards on 14 carries, while Tivinis finished with 41 yards on eight attempts.

The defense was paced by Grimes, who had nine tackles (3 solo), and linebacker Alexander Greenidge(Miller Place, NY / Miller Place), who had eight stops (2 solo). Defensive back Philip Lanieri III (Miller Place, NY / Earl L. Vandermeulen) had seven tackles (3 solo) and defensive lineman Diego Cuitino(Plainsboro, NJ / West Windsor-Plainsboro) had six stops (3 solo) including two sacks (9 yards lost) and 2.5 tackles for lost yards (11).

Springfield's defense was led by sophomore linebacker Dominic Traversa (Pittsfield, MA / Pittsfield), who had a game-high 11 tackles (6 solo) including a one yard sack. Freshman linebacker Nicholas Giorgio (Cumberland, RI / Cumberland) added a four yard sack among his seven tackles (5 solo). The Pride conclude the season next Saturday when it hosts Worcester Polytechnic Institute at noon.

Dec. 14: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 16
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
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Dec. 8: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 31, UW-Whitewater 14
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at Mount Union 28, Johns Hopkins 20
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