TROY, N.Y. – Quarterback Eddie Trimpert threw two touchdown passes and ran for the game-winning score with only 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to lead the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute football team to a 21-17 victory over No. 22 Hobart College in a Liberty League contest at East Campus Stadium.
RPI improves to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference, while the Statesmen, who took a 17-14 lead with just 1:12 left in the contest, are now 5-1 and 2-1.
Trailing by three points with just over a minute remaining following a seven-yard touchdown pass by the visitors, RPI gained excellent field position on the ensuing kickoff.
Junior Nick Esposito took the kickoff 34 yards to the RPI 49 yard line and the Engineers gained another 15 yards on a Hobart personal foul penalty. Trimpert, a sophomore, then found classmate Keaton Ackermann for nine yards before scrambling for four more for a first down at the 23 yard line.
A 14-yard completion to running back Ethan Wells put RPI on the nine yard line, but Trimpert was sacked back to the 11 on first and goal.
Hobart’s Marcus Jemison appeared to make an interception on the next play, but a pass interference gave Rensselaer a first down on the five yard line with under 30 seconds to play.
On the next play, Trimpert dropped back to pass but was flushed from the pocket. He started left and then went to his right, breaking two tackles, before heading up field and eventually running over the goal line.
The Statesmen got the ball back on their own 25-yard line with 20 seconds left but RPI applied pressure on each play to cause three incompletions and the clock ran out. The win was the second straight for the Engineers over Hobart and Rensselaer now leads the all-time series, 30-29-1.
It was nearly Hobart that took the head-to-head lead, thanks to junior quarterback Shane Sweeney, who drove the team 60 yards on nine plays for a 17-14 lead with 1:12 to play.
After getting the ball at his own 40 yard line following a punt, Sweeney completed 7 of 9 passes for all 60 yards, highlighted by a seven-yard strike to sophomore tight end Matthew Woods in the end zone.
The touchdown was the second of the year for Woods and the 20th of the year – and second of the game – for Sweeney.
Rensselaer took the lead, 14-10, eight minutes earlier when Trimpert connected with senior running back John Costello on a pass to the left flat that went eight yards for a touchdown.
The Engineers had attempted to tie the game with a 37-yard field goal earlier in the series but a roughing the kicker penalty negated the missed kick and gave RPI a first down at the Hobart 10 yard line.
RPI had pulled to within 10-7 on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Trimpert to junior Johnny Ramsdell to the back left corner of the end zone on the first drive of the second half. The Engineers started with excellent field position thanks to a 71-yard kickoff return by freshman Delano Munoz Whatts and they were later were aided by a pass interference call on the defense.
The Statesmen tried to extend its lead with a pair of third quarter field goal attempts, but the first – from 34 yards – was blocked by DJ Stefonsky and the second – a 35-yard attempt – was wide right.
Hobart jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its second drive of the game, which covered 74 yards on three rushes and a pass. Sophomore Tynard Barfield carried the ball for nine yards on first down and then 28 yards on second.
A seven-yard rush by Sweeney put the visitors on the 30 yard line and a defensive pass interference moved the ball to the 15. Sweeney then hit senior Jack Pfohl inside the 10 and the wide receiver bulled his way across the goal line for his fourth touchdown reception of the season.
It took until the waning seconds of the half for more points to be recorded, but Hobart took a 10-0 lead on a 28-yard field goal from junior Will McCool. The field goal, which capped an 11-play, 41-drive, came with only 15 seconds left in the quarter.
Rensselaer did find the end zone in between Hobart’s scores when Trimpert found Ramsdell for a 29-yard touchdown, but the second quarter play was called back due to a penalty.
Trimpert finished with 14 rushing yards on 10 carries and 109 passing yards, completing 14 of 20 attempts. Costello caught a team-high five passes for 31 yards, while Ramsdell had two receptions for 18 yards. Sophomore Nick Cella had a team-high 28 rushing yards on 14 carries.
RPI’s leading rusher, senior Mike Tivinis, carried twice for eight yards before leaving the game with an injury.
Linebackers Brandt Beck and Alexander Greenidge led RPI with nine and seven tackles, respectively. Stefonsky finished with six stops, including five unassisted, a pass breakup and the blocked field goal attempt.
Sweeney paced Hobart, which held a 435-192 advantage in total yards, by throwing for 340 (27 of 44) and running for 14 (4 attempts).
Barfield had 72 rushing yards on 11 carries and a 28-yard reception and senior Sean Cunningham led all receivers with nine catches for 149 yards.
Sophomore AJ McFarlane and junior Almamy Conde led the Statesmen with nine stops apiece. McFarlane added a four-yard sack, while Conde had a tackle for lost yards.
Hobart is idle next week, while the Engineers travel to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for a league game on Saturday at 1 p.m.