The seniors of Team 129, known more widely as the 2015 Rensselaer football team, went out with a bang on Saturday, November 21, establishing the legacy they had once only dreamed of leaving. At Central Connecticut State University’s Arute Field, RPI polished off Buffalo State 20-13 in the Asa S. Bushnell Bowl Championship, earning a near record high of nine wins out of 11 games for the season. This is the second best cumulative performance any RPI football team has put together in the Institute’s history.
With a 13-3 deficit going into the second half of the Bowl, the Engineers were aching for a comeback. Three yards from the end zone, senior Nick Schlatz completed a touchdown run to boost Rensselaer up seven points. Sophomore kicker Christian Kapp lifted his team out of the rut with his 24-yard field goal to establish a 13-13 tie.
With under nine minutes remaining, the Engineers wasted no time in working toward the lead of 20-13 they were destined to achieve. The player responsible was senior running back Austin Amery, who ran 17-yards to score the game-winning touchdown with 5:18 left in the fourth quarter.
“Playing RPI football has been an amazing experience altogether, the best four years of my life. Over the years, the program has taught me a lot not just on the field, but in life as well. This team went out on the best note, winning an ECAC Championship bowl game. That game specifically exemplifies what kind of team we are, dependent on each other. The teamwork and comaraderie on the gridiron here are like no other. Team 129 gave everything we had for one of the best seasons in school history. I’m going to miss it with all of my heart and I would do anything to go back and do it again. I thank all of my coaches and teammates, especially the seniors, for an incredible four years. This program has an extremely bright future. I already can’t wait to come back with my team as alum and watch from the stands.”
– Nick Schlatz, Team Captain, Senior Running Back
“It was an amazing experience leaving a legacy the way we did. [Our] seniors have fought through many obstacles but always rallied around one another to work towards a common goal. Winning nine games in a season is no easy task, and to go out as a co-champion of the league and mounting a victory from behind in the final game of our lives is something we will remember forever. Walking away from football isn’t easy, but going out as a champion certainly makes it a lot easier.”
– Matt Lane, Senior Running Back
“I think the biggest reason we were so successful was because we all believed in each other. For a play on offensive to work, everyone has to do their job or else it is a busted play. And on defense, in order to stop the other team, every player has to do their job or else it could lead to a big gain or a touchdown. But personally, I never had to try to do more than what I was told to do, because I trusted my teammate to do his job, and when we get a three and out, I trust the offense to go down a score. I could go all day long about why our team was one of the best to come through RPI.”
– Mark Grimes, Senior Linebacker
“Football has definitely been my greatest experience here at RPI. It has helped me through RPI’s challenging academic courseload by teaching me time management skills, and giving me a support system of about 130 players and coaches. It truly is a brotherhood because I know I can ask any guy on that team for something and no matter what it is, they would help me out. I think football has helped me grow into the man I am today. The leadership, teamwork, and communication skills you take from the game cannot only help you in your professional career, but in life in general. The team has a lot of intelligent and respectable men on it who are going to do great things after RPI.”
– Anthony Pilla, Team Captain, Senior Linebacker