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Nailbiters in Tri-State Semis

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Nailbiters in Tri-State Semis

Molloy came back from a 17-point deficit to win at the death.

Two wild and tense games in the Tri-State Conference Sunday decided who would move on to the conference final.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which had been racking up big scores of late, had to battle with New Jersey Institute of Technology in a game that yielded just three tries and 18 points.

“It was a really hard fought game with a lot of defense,” said RPI club president Will Howard. “We played a lot of defense; NJIT ran really hard and rucked really well.” 

NJIT led 5-0 at halftime, after winning a scrum deep in their 22 and cutting through some iffy tackles to go 90 meters for the score.

“In the first half we were pressuring a few times but either turned the ball over or committed offensive penalties,” said Howard. “After half we came out hard and NJIT didn't really threaten to score. We then slowly started to get together, and keep control of the ball.” 

After some offensive pressure RPI got a penalty right in front of the posts and Steve Romano put it over. Then the Engineers returned to NJIT territory and ran a series of crashes before spinning it wide to fullback Frank Emory, who dotted down in the corner to give his team the lead with about 20 minutes to go.

The teams continued to play solid defense the rest of the way, and RPI only got a cushion with five minutes to go, when after some more bursts up the middle, a well-execute skip pass from flyhalf Anthony Cornace put wing Guenter Hubert over for RPI’s second try.

That was it, as RPI clamped down on the game and ran out the clock to secure a difficult victory.

And now they will face Molloy on Sunday in the final, held at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Molloy won a wild one over Sacred Heart. thanks in part to two yellow cards against Molloy, Sacred Heart ran out to a 24-7 lead.

But Molloy battled back with two converted tries to make it 24-21 Sacred Heart with about a minute left.

Just outside the Sacred Heart 22 meter, Sacred Heart got a scrum. Molloy scrumhalf Steven Malinowski was able to pounce on his opposite number just as the ball came out. He made the tackle and stripped the ball and took off, outpacing the scrumhalf and flyhalf, and sidestepping the left wing to go in at the corner. Malinowski was caught as he went over the line but slammed the ball down for the game-winning try.

The conversion was good, but regardless, Molloy won 28-24 in a wild comeback.

Malinowski pushed aside talk of his play being the difference.

“It felt like a dream,” said the scrumhalf. “This is a team sport and this team deserves all the praise, not just me. All 15 guys contributed to this incredible comeback and it felt so good to get some revenge on Sacred Heart after they just beat us two weeks ago.”

See a GIF of Malinowski’s steal and first part of his run below.