Rensselaer Defeats Buffalo State for Ninth Win

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NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - Austin Amery scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) football team scored 17 unanswered points in defeating Buffalo State College 20-13 in the Asa S. Bushnell Bowl Championship at Arute Field on the campus of Central Connecticut State University. RPI ends the season on a five-game winning streak, improving to 9-2 - which ranks second in school history for victories in a season, the third such time it has happened. Buffalo State falls to 7-4.

With the score tied at 13-13, Amery (Castleton, VT / Fair Haven), a slotback, took a pitch to the left and scampered untouched into the end zone from 17 yards out with 5:18 to play in the fourth quarter, giving Rensselaer its first lead since a 3-0 advantage after the opening drive. The senior finished with 26 rushing yards on two carries and game-highs of eight catches for 89 yards to earn the Most Outstanding Player Award.

The Engineers fought back from a 13-3 deficit with the help of its defense, which allowed only 38 rushing yards and 115 through the air, including a 58-yard scoring strike early in the second quarter. From that point on, Buffalo State, which came into the game averaging 29.9 points, 205.0 rushing yards and 203.5 passing yards per game, could not get on the board. RPI finished with 4.5 tackles for lost yards (41), 3.0 sacks for 30 yards - all by senior Anthony Pilla (Lake Hauto, PA / Marian Catholic) - and three interceptions.  

Senior Mark Grimes (Hackettstown, NJ / Hackettstown) led all RPI defensive players with 10 tackles, including eight unassisted and 1.0 for a loss (1 yard). Pilla had eight stops with seven solos, 5.0 behind the line of scrimmage (34 yards lost), the three sacks, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry. Teague Florio (Southampton, NY / Southampton), another senior, had seven tackles (6 solo, 1.0 TFL) and two pass breakups.

Rensselaer opened the game with a 40-yard field goal from sophomore Christian Kapp (Amawalk, NY / Iona Prep.), but the Bengals answered with a 12-play, 68-yard series that ended with a Stephen Johnson (Buffalo, NY / McKinley) end-around touchdown run from 13 yards out with 4:20 left in the first quarter. Following a turnover-on-downs by the Engineers on the next series, Dan Serignese (Port Jefferson, NY / Port Jefferson) hit Johnson from 58 yards on the next play, the first of the second quarter, and Buffalo State led 13-3.

RPI, which is now 9-2 all-time in ECAC Bowl Games, came out in the second half and went 70 yards on 14 plays, including a fake punt for a first down, for a touchdown that cut the deficit to 13-10. Senior Nick Schlatz finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Capp tied the game with a 24-yard field goal with 8:55 to go in the fourth quarter and Amery completed the game-winning drive, which took five plays and 44 yards, with his third rushing touchdown of the season.

Schlatz led the Engineers running game with 69 yards on 19 carries. Classmate Jeff Avery (White Plains, NY / White Plains), the Liberty League co-Offensive Performer of the Year, completed 22 of 37 passes for 252 yards. He was intercepted once and concluded the year with 20 touchdown passes and two interceptions. Senior Matt Lane (Hanover, MA / Hanover) caught six passes for 63 yards while running three times for 20 yards.

Johnson led the Bengals offense with two receptions for 68 yards and his 13-yard rush. Dale Stewart (Niagara Falls, NY / Niagara Falls) had 50 yards on the ground on 15 carries. Serignese completed 12 of 28 passes for 115 yards. Shaq Frederick (Brooklyn, NY / Holy Cross) led the defense with 15 tackles, including seven unassisted and one for a loss (4 yards). He also recovered a fumble with a 10-yard return.

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