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RPI edges Endicott in defensive battle

RPI edges Endicott in defensive battle

Beverly, Mass.
– Peter Nilson (Appleton, Wisc.) converted a pair of field goals to lead RPI to a 6-3 win over host Endicott College in an offensive struggle on Saturday afternoon.   The win came in the Engineers’ first game of the season while the Gulls fall to 1-1 on the year. 

RPI  blocked two Endicott field goal attempts, one in each of the first two quarters, to keep the hosts off the board in the opening stanza. Nilson connected on a 31-yard try as the first half expired, then nailed another from 27 yards out to give the Engineers a 6-0 lead. Endicott’s \#Dylan Rushe\# (Palos Verdes, Calif.) trimmed the lead to just three after kicking a 44-yard field goal on the ensuing possession. Neither team put points on the board in the fourth quarter, symbolic of the strong defensive performance by both squads throughout the entire 60 minutes.

Rushe’s first blocked kick came in the early minutes of the game. Both teams remained scoreless after RPI’s Mike Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.) batted the ball down. Both sqauds went three-and-out as the opening quarter came to a close. The Engineers managed just one first down and failed to convert on a pair of fourth down tries in the opening 15 minutes.     

After a pair of three-and-outs by the RPI offense, the Gulls again pieced together a solid drive that ended in a blocked field goal. Rushe’s attempt from 38 yards was blocked by Steven Burpoe (Saranac Lake, N.Y.), leaving the Blue and Green empty-handed after an 11 play drive that took 6:53 off the clock.
Both teams traded punts before RPI began a scoring drive with 1:35 remaining in the half. 

Punt returner Pat McCarthy (Strafford, N.H.) set the Engineers up by returning the punt 37 yards into Endicott territory. RPI marched 21 yards before Nilson connected on his first try of the day as time expired.

The Engineers quickly doubled their lead after taking their opening drive of the second half 56 yards to the Endicott ten yard line, where Nilson made it two-for-two on the afternoon. The Gulls responded with a scoring drive their own, taking the ball as far as the RPI 14-yard line before settling for a field goal. An apparent touchdown pass from \#Matt DeOliveira\# (Malden, Mass.) to \#Mike Lane\# (Medfield, Mass.) was negated by an offensive pass interference call. 

Neither offense seemed to be able to get anything going in the final quarter. Endicott’s final attempt at a comeback came with less than one minute to play. After an eight play, 39 yard drive, Rushe missed a 43-yard field goal attempt to the right. The Engineers burned the remaining time off the clock and walked away from Endicott Stadium with the win.

The Gulls held an 18-9 advantage in first downs, but were 1-for-3 in the red zone. The Blue and Green also outgained the Engineers 257-207. \#Phil Konopka\# (Shelton, Conn.) led the Gulls through the air with 149 yards on 13-for-25 passing. RPI’s Mike Hermann (Hardeeville, S.C.) connected on 12 of 23 attempts for just 92 yards. 

The Engineers were led defensively by Nick Herrera’s (Miami, Florida) 10 tackles. Justin Hasselku (Rochester, N.Y.) finished with nine tackles, including two tackles for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble. As a team, RPI finished with five sacks and held Endicott to 76 yards on the ground.

Endicott freshman \#Matt Schafer\# (Mansfield, Mass.) led the team in tackles with 13. Senior defensive back \#PJ Bay\# (Darien, Conn.) finished with 11 tackles and two pass breakups. \#Marcell Cooper\# (Dorchester, Mass.) accounted for the Gulls only sack. Collectively, the defense held RPI to just 92 yards through the air with an average of 3.8 yards per attempt. 

Next Saturday the Gulls travel to Fitchburg State for a 1:30 kickoff. RPI travels to Utica to take on the Pioneers on the same day, with kickoff set for 1:00.