Fourth-quarter comeback stuns Statesmen

Quarterback Jake Kazanowsky connected with DJ Palmer for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to mount a staggering 14-point comeback, defeating the Hobart Statesmen 16‒13 to remain undefeated in the Liberty League. The Rensselaer defense continued their solid form as third in Division III in total defense and fifth in scoring defense, holding the visitors to 201 yards of total offense and forcing a safety.

JIMMY LEBLO PICKS off a Hobart throw. Gemma Beatty/The Polytechnic

The game was a defensive stalemate for the entire first half as the fans witnessed a combined 10 punts. Engineer Jimmy Leblo picked off Hobart quarterback David Krewson in the first quarter, but the struggling RPI offense turned the ball over twice while nearing the red zone. The defense, however, put the Engineers on the scoreboard with a minute remaining in the half. On first and 10 at the Hobart 16-yard line, the Statesmen lined up in the wildcat formation, with only running back Rayshawn Boswell in the backfield. An errant snap tumbled into the end zone, and Boswell was unable to grab the loose ball. Defensive back CJ Lyons plowed into the ball to prevent Boswell from recovering the fumble, knocking it out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The two teams headed into halftime with an unpredictable 2‒0 scoreline.

CJ LYONS LAUNCHES the loose ball out of bounds for a safety. Katherine Barney/The Polytechnic

Hobart broke through the Engineers’ air-tight defense in the third quarter. On second and 7 at the RPI 38, Krewson lobbed a high-arching pass to the end zone. Receiver Alex LaBella leapt into the air over the RPI defensive back for a touchdown. The Statesmen attempted a two-point conversion, but the resulting pass was incomplete. Hobart took a 6‒2 lead with three minutes left in the quarter.

The Statesmen widened the gap at the start of the fourth quarter. Receiver Rane Daramola darted into acres of space in front of the end zone. Krewson launched a 33-yard pass to Daramola, who made the basket catch. Defensive back Carlos Davis wrapped up Daramola, but the Statesman fought enough to knock down the pylon for a touchdown. After kicking the extra point, the Statesmen were up by 11.

After the RPI defense shut down the Statesmen deep in Hobart territory, a 20-yard punt gave the Engineers advantageous field position 34 yards from the goal line. On second and 5 in the no-huddle, Kazanowsky gunned a 29-yard bullet to Palmer in the end zone to make it a one-score game. The Hobart defense stuffed Dylan Burnett’s rush up the middle on the subsequent two-point conversion, keeping the score 13‒8 with a little under eight minutes on the clock.

Another clutch stop from the Engineer defense returned possession to RPI at their own 30. The hurry-up offense strung together several large gains, eating up enough clock to provide little time for the Statesmen to answer. Burnett carried RPI into the red zone with a four-yard rush as the clock ticked down to 46 seconds. On first and goal, Kazanowsky received the snap with 28 seconds remaining. Palmer beat his defensive back at the line of scrimmage and Kazanowky drilled a pass into his hands as he strode into the end zone, putting RPI up by one. The Engineers needed a two-point conversion to prevent Hobart from having the opportunity to kick a game-winning field goal, and Kazanowsky delivered. He dropped back in the pocket, scanning for an option in the end zone. With no open receivers and pass rushers closing in, Kazanowsky scrambled to his left and powered his way through several Statesmen over the goal line for two points. With 24 second left on the clock, the Engineers were miraculously up 16‒13.

Hobart quickly marched upfield after starting the final drive at their own 25, but the defense held them up around midfield. On fourth and 1 with four seconds, Krewson catapulted a hail mary seven yards short of the end zone. A Statesman made the catch, but Leblo immediately ripped him to the ground to secure the win. The victory maintains the Engineers’ perfect 3‒0 record in the Liberty League, remaining as one of the three undefeated teams along with Ithaca and Union. Click here for the box score and here for the RPI TV broadcast.

DJ PALMER AND ANTHONY MEISSNER CELEBRATE the Engineers' first touchdown. Gemma Beatty/The Polytechnic