Football’s Hanney nominated for GEICO Play of the Year

Ryan Hanney ’18, Union Football’s No. 8, earned honors last week. (Courtesy of Union Athletics)

Union Football’s Ryan Hanney ’18 was nominated for GEICO Play of the Year last week after a crazy catch in a game against Wester Connecticut State last month.

On Sept. 12, football traveled to Western Connecticut State to compete in the team’s second game of the season. The Dutchmen dropped the match 44-38, but some good came out of the team’s loss.

In the game, Union tight end Ryan Hanney, No. 8 on the team, caught a pass tipped off a Western Connecticut defenseman and ran the ball 41 yards for a touchdown.

The impressive and unexpected nature of the play earned it a nomination for GEICO Play of the Year, a national competition in search of the best plays in college football.

The play occurred in the third quarter of the game, with the Dutchmen down 14-24 at the 50-yard line. Quarterback Dante Cioffi ’18, No. 12, completed two passes to Joe Vito ’16, No. 17, one for 5 yards and the other for 4 yards, with an incomplete pass to AJ Baker ’16, No. 1, taking place between Vito’s two catches. This meant the team had 1 yard left on its fourth down.

Cioffi then threw the ball, which then bounced against the hands of a Western Connecticut player and into Hanney’s open arms. Hanney saw his opportunity and took it, running the ball 41 yards for the Union touchdown.

A video of the play can be found on the Union Athletics website, in its Oct. 13 story about the nomination.

According to Hanney, Cioffi’s pass to him was a little overthrown and the Western Connecticut player ahead of him had the ball trapped against his face mask.

Hanney then tipped the ball to himself and took off running. “It all happened so fast,” said Hanney, “I was so rattled I didn’t even know what to do once I got to the end zone. No one really knew what had just happened. Everyone was just wondering, ‘How did that even happen?’ ”

Hanney also was unaware his play had been nominated for the GEICO Play of the Year until recently. “I didn’t even know I had been nominated until I saw the article on the Union Athletics website. Someone actually saw it online and then congratulated me and then I went and checked it.”

The GEICO Play of the Year competition is decided through weekly contests where four impressive college plays are chosen each week and then voted on through the GEICO Best of College Football Facebook page.

Hobart College’s Bradley Burns beat out Union’s Ryan Hanney for the Week 2 finalist spot, meaning that Hanney has been knocked out of the running for Play of the Year honors, but Hanney concisely summed up his feelings about the nomination: “It’s pretty cool.”

For those interested, all of the winners from the weekly contests will face off in the second week of November, and a champion will be crowned. The winner will be announced during the GEICO’s Best of College Football 2015, which will be aired on CBS on Nov. 27 at 1:30 p.m.


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