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Hobart bounces back with 10-9 win over Rensselaer

The Hobart College football team blocked an extra point attempt late in the fourth quarter to preserve a one-point lead over No. 23 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Statesmen defense made it stand up down the stretch for a 10-9 Liberty League victory. The Statesmen improved to 5-1 overall, 1-1 in conference, while the Engineers suffered their first loss, dropping to 6-1, 2-1.

Box score

Hobart running back Rayshawn Boswell rushed for a game and career-high 149 yards on 18 carries (8.3 yds/rush). He scored the only touchdown of the first half, taking a direct snap 49 yards to the house. The breakaway capped the day’s longest scoring drive, covering 78 yards in eight plays. It was Boswell’s league-leading 13th touchdown.

The Statesmen also got 94 yards rushing from running back Tim Denham Jr. As a team, Hobart finished with 223 yards on the ground. It’s the most allowed by RPI this season which entered the day allowing just 112.5 yards per game.

The Statesmen defense turned in arguably its best performance of the season. Rensselaer was averaging 354.3 yards per game (250.8 passing), but left Urick Stadium with just a season-low 145 yards, including a season-low 57 yards passing. Hobart also finished on the plus side in turnover margin, intercepting RPI quarterback George Marinopoulos twice and recovering a pair of fumbles. The Statesmen lost a pair of fumbles themselves, but did not throw a pick. The entire first half was played in a steady rain which surely contributed to the turnovers.

Linebacker Bryan Aguilar recorded a team-high 10 tackles and a victory clinching interception with 56 seconds left. Linebacker Emmett Forde added eight tackles, including two of Hobart’s five sacks.

Forde’s first sack of Marinopoulos popped the ball loose at the Hobart 22. The Statesmen recovered, setting up Boswell’s scoring run.

Hobart forced RPI to punt on its ensuing possession, but the Statesmen muffed the punt and Carlos Davis recovered for the Engineers at the Hobart 20. The Statesmen compounded the mistake with a personal foul penalty that gave RPI first and goal from the 7. The defense stood firm and forced the Engineers to settle for a 22-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

RPI’s defense forced Hobart to punt on its next possession. This time, the Engineers’ misplayed the punt. Tobias Wefering’s kick hit the ground near the RPI 27 and caromed off one of the Engineers’ gunners. Chris Ntumba dove on the ball, giving the Statesmen new life at the RPI 22. Six plays later, Rob DiGregorio made a 21-yard field goal, giving Hobart a 10-3 lead that they took into the locker room at halftime.

The Statesmen outgained the Engineers 177-42 in the first half. Boswell had 100 yards rushing at the break.

Hobart dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 12:10 more than the visitors. In the third quarter, the Statesmen had the ball for 9:50. On RPI’s lone drive of the quarter, the Engineers faced a fourth-and-eight from the Hobart 12. Marinopoulos threw a fade to the back left corner of the end zone, but cornerback Jared Leake read the play perfectly, making his fifth career interception for a touchback.

Hobart’s offense ate up the final 5:09 of the third quarter and most of the first two minutes of the fourth quarter to reach the RPI 13. Facing fourth-and-4, the Statesmen opted for a 30-yard field goal attempt, but DiGregorio’s kick was wide right, keeping it a seven-point game.

Both teams went three-and-out on their next possessions, but the Engineers’ punt block team got to Wefering. Conner Noyes blocked the kick, setting up the RPI offense inside Hobart territory. Eleven plays and 48 yards later, Marinopoulos connected with wide receiver Vinnie McDonald for a 4-yard touchdown pass to cut the Statesmen lead to just one with 3:39 to go.

On the extra point attempt, the snap was to the right of holder Peter Lombardi, who had to reach across his body and bring the ball back to set it down for backup kicker Diego Fernandez. The delay was enough time for CJ Calero and Leake to race in from the right side and leap in front of the kick, both players made contact with the ball, but Leake said after the game that Calero did more to block the kick, preserving Hobart’s lead.

The Statesmen weren’t able to run out the clock, punting the ball back to RPI with just over a minute left. Hobart downed Wefering’s 39-yard punt at the Engineers’ 20. After a six-yard pick gain on first down, Aguilar sealed the win, intercepting Marinopoulos at the RPI 38. He took a knee after a five yard return and three kneel downs by the offense ran off the final 56 seconds of the game.

Marinopoulos was 11-of-20 passing for 57 yards. McDonald had four receptions for a game-high 29 yards. Running back Delano Munoz Whatts rushed for a team-high 96 yards. Defensive back Jimmy Leblo made a game-high 12 tackles.

Hobart will be home again next Saturday, hosting St. Lawrence (3-3, 0-2). RPI will be off next Saturday, returning to action on Oct. 30, when the Engineers host Ithaca (6-0, 3-0).