By Kirti Chakote
The Union College Football team (1-3) seems to be having déjà vu. Similar to last season (6-4 overall, 5-1 Liberty League), the Dutchmen have been off to slow start in its first three games. Costly turnovers and a lack of all around effort on all three facets of the game have cost Union unfortunate losses.
“It’s all about the offense, defense, and special teams complementing each other. One component cannot just put away the game,” said Noah Joseph ‘13, captain linebacker, discussing about the team’s recent shortcomings.
In the team’s first game against Salve Regina (4-0), the offense could not step up in the final minutes after the Seahawks went up 17-14 with a little more than 12 minutes left in the game.
However, in the second game against Utica (2-1), the defense failed to put on a strong effort as the opposing team was able to score 45 points. In its third loss, Union’s special team made a costly error of a failed punt attempt that put Ithaca (3-0) in a great position to score the tying touchdown and force an overtime win for the Bombers 27-24.
Fortunately, Union showed its true potential to put itself back on the path to repeat as Liberty League champion this past Saturday against St. Lawrence (0-4).
At Leckonby Stadium in Canton, NY, Union clicked on all cylinders to show complete dominance in all sides of the ball. The Dutchmen scored first off of a field goal by Tosin Kazeem ‘15, but lost their lead at the end of the first, falling 6-3.
The Scarlet and Brown carried the momentum into the second to get the ball all the way to the 30 yard line, but Jafar Johnson ‘13, defensive-back, made a key interception.
In the ensuing Union drive, T.J. Franzese ‘14 scored on an 11-yard run, and later, Johnson would get another interception to help the Dutchmen pad its lead. To end the half, Connor Eck ‘15 would throw for his first TD of the game to Kyler Reynolds ‘15 to put the team up 17-6.
Eck started the second half the same way he ended the first one as he led the opening drive for another score with Reynolds. In rebuttal, St. Lawrence scored to stay in the game at 24-13. However, Union held stiff and showed no signs of slipping as in the past three games.
Eck would take an 83-yard drive down field to connect with Reyolds for the third time in the end zone.
Union would close out the game to win 31-20, as it would only allow one more Saints’ touchdown and quell the team’s final push to force a turnover on downs.
In the end, Union made it an all round team effort. Eck had the best game of his season as he threw for 3 TDs and 166 yards, while Reynolds was on the receiving end for those scores.
Defensively, Johnson had two interceptions, Brian Daley ‘13, outside linebacker, had seven tackles, and Bill Meile ‘14, defensive line, had a game high two sacks. For special teams, Kazeem made the majority of his field goals and extra-points, missing only one 3-point score.
With this past win, the team now realizes exactly what it will take to bring home another Liberty League championship. A complete 60-minute effort on all sides of the ball is required as one play can change the outcome of the game.
Hopefully, the team’s déjà vu will continue, and Union will finish strong like last season, winning 6 of the 7 final games, to bring home the league title after falling short its first few games.
The Dutchmen continues its quest this Saturday at Frank Bailey Field in another league game against Springfield College (3-1).