By Evan Slavit
For the 46th time since the trophy was originally presented in 1950, Union won the Dutchmen Shoes from RPI, pulling it out 38-28. Their overall record against RPI is 80-25-4, dominating the oldest college football rivalry in New York State
In what turned into an offensive battle, the Dutchmen prevailed on the strength of 17 unanswered second half points that broke up a 21-21 tie at halftime. While the 38 points were impressive, perhaps the bigger news was the play of the defense.
This season, the defense ranks last in the conference in passing defense, giving up 221 yards through the air a game. Overall, the defense is in the bottom half of the conference in every category except rush defense (though they still give up 152 yards on the ground a game).
Still, when the team needed it most, the defense made a stand and only allowed one touchdown all half, and that was after they built a 38-21 cushion.
Back to the offense, there were plenty of impressive performances in this game. Drew Connolly ‘12 tied his own school record by lobbing five touchdown passes, and had his fifth career 300-yard game. Connolly is only the second Union quarterback to throw for five touchdowns in a game. Ultimately he finished 18 of 29 for 335 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception and was awarded the Liberty League Offensive Performer of the Week.
On the receiving end of those touchdowns were brothers Connor and Justin Gallo ‘12. Justin had nine catches for 115 yards and three touchdowns, and Connor had three receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns.
For the season, Justin has 14 touchdowns, which is a new school record, breaking Bryan Slekes record of 12 in 2000. Overall, Justin has 990 receiving yards (123.8 yards per game) on 53 catches and the 14 touchdowns. The next leading receiver is Connor with 19 catches for 293 yards and 3 touchdowns.
No one else on the team has more than one touchdown and only a total of five players on the team have caught a touchdown pass. Also of note is the fact that Justin now has 3,100 career receiving yards, making him only the second player in Union history with at least 3,000 career receiving yards.
These numbers would be impressive on their own, but what makes them that much more eye-popping is the fact that it has led to great offensive numbers for the Union offense. Usually an offense predicated around one player stumbles, but for the season, the Dutchmen average 26.8 points a game, 384.2 yards per game with 251.9 yards passing.
Putting this all in perspective, Union’s 251.9 yards through the air are first in the conference. The second best team averages 217.9 yards. Of those 251.9 yards, Justin, on average, has about half of them.
All of this success has led to the third best scoring offense in the conference and second place in the Liberty League with a 4-1 conference record. The first place team is Hobart and they rank in the top 25 in the entire nation.
Union now has one last conference game this season against Unites States Merchant Marine Academy. The Merchant Marines have a 1-3 record this season, and Union has beaten them five of the past six years by an average score of 34-16. If Union wins and Hobart falters, Union could win the league title, or even a playoff berth. If Hobart holds on, Union could still be awarded a bowl game if they win their last two games.