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RPI Topples No. 6 Football, 40-34

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Nov. 29, 2003 – RPI senior quarterback Dan Cole (Albany, N.Y.) went 26-for-44 for 348 yards and threw five touchdowns as the fifth-seeded Engineers upset top-seed Springfield College, 40-34, in a second-round game in the East Region of the NCAA Division III Football Tournament today at Benedum Field.

The Engineers (10-1) host Ithaca in the East Region Final next Saturday, Dec. 6 at 12 p.m. Ithaca, the sixth seed, defeated No. 2-seed Montclair State, 33-13, today.

This afternoon’s loss ends a sensational season for the Pride, which finishes 10-1. Junior fullback Tim Lutgens (Greenwich, N.Y.) ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns, and junior quarterback Ryan Sylvia (Marion, Mass.) added 113 yards and a score. Junior halfback Kevin Domurat (Forestdale, Mass.) chipped in with 97 yards on the ground for SC, which rushed for 441 yards.

Cole got the Engineers on the board just 1:52 into the game when he hit freshman tight end Jon Branche (Schenectady, N.Y.) with a 20-yard touchdown pass. Lutgens evened the score at 7-7 when he plunged in from three yards out at 6:33 in the first quarter, but Cole hit senior wide receiver Flynn Cochran (Kent, Wash.) with a 12-yard score with 2:24 in the first to make it 14-7. RPI extended its lead to 17-7 when senior place-kicker Matt Verenini (Averill Park, N.Y.) drilled a 29-yard field goal with 1:03 to play in the first quarter.

The Pride took the lead in the second quarter. Lutgens added another three-yard touchdown run, and Sylvia scored on a seven-yard run to give SC a 21-17 lead with 7:57 left in the half. SC threatened to extend the lead further, but junior Brent Hanson (Algonquin, Ill.) picked off a pass at the Engineer goal line with 2:24 left in the half.

In the third quarter, SC sophomore linebacker Shawn McGowan (Pawtucket, R.I.) scooped up a fumbled snap on a RPI punt and raced 49 yards for a touchdown to make it 27-17 with 12:49 to go in the third.

RPI reeled off 23-straight points over the next 14:22 to take a 40-27 lead in the fourth quarter. Cole directed three impressive drives, and converted three times on 3rd-and-long situations. On 3rd-and-10 with 10:27 left, he hit junior Dan Stephens (Brewster, N.Y.) with a 37-yard pass to the SC 4-yard line, setting up a four-yard TD pass to Cochran. Cole fired a 58-yard bomb to Stephens on 3rd-and-14 to give RPI a 31-27 lead with 5:56 left in the third quarter. After a blocked punt on SC’s next possession gave RPI the ball on the SC 32-yard line, Cole tossed a 19-yard completion on 3rd-and-14 from the SC 26 to set up a three-yard scoring strike to Branche, putting RPI in front, 37-27, with :29 left in the third. Verelini added a 27-yard field goal and RPI led, 40-27, with 10:52 to play in the game.

SC mounted a comeback. The Pride marched 65 yards on 10 plays, capped by a 14-yard scoring run by senior halfback Dustin Grosso (Glen Cove, N.Y.), to close the gap to 40-34 with 6:42 left. The Pride forced the Engineers to go three-plays-and-out in their next drive, and got the ball back on its own 29-yard line. SC moved the ball to the RPI 21, but, on 4th-and-16 from the RPI 35, Grosso fell two yards short of a first down, rushing 14 yards to the RPI 21.

SC’s defense forced another RPI punt, and the Pride had one last shot from the Engineer 40 with :40 left, but could not complete the comeback.
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