By Tommy Schaffer
The Union College football team finished the 2011 campaign with four straight wins. After starting the season with three straight losses, the team climbed up the Liberty League standings to tie Hobart as Liberty League Champions. The team was hoping to get off to a better start than last year by avenging losses to Salve Regina and Utica to whom they lost in 2011.
The Dutchmen opened the season with their first game against Salve Regina at Frank Bailey Field. Union lost the home opener last year to the Seahawks in a last second field goal as time expired 25-22.
Unfortunately the Dutchmen lost the season opener in another close game against the Seahawks 17-14.
Salve Regina started off the scoring when a pass from Nick Becker ‘15 was intercepted and returned for a touchdown with only two and a half minutes into the contest. The Seahawks jumped out to an early six to nothing lead after the missed extra point.
Then, Union posted 14 points in the third quarter. Union took the 7-6 advantage after a 67 yard touchdown catch from Connor Eck ‘15 to Jimmer Bennett ’13 and a successful extra point kick from Tosin Kazeem ‘15.
Later in the quarter, Darnell Thomas topped off a 68 yard drive with a six yard touchdown run to take the eight point lead. For the Dutchmen, this was the only scoring of the contest.
Salve Regina came back to tie the game in the fourth quarter after scoring on a 15 yard pass play and running in the two point conversion. The Seahawks took then took lead after a 35 yard field goal put them up 17-14. This marked the second time Union fell to Salve Regina by just three points.
The top performers for Union were Bennett who had 172 receiving yards on seven catches with one receiving touchdown. Later in the week Bennett was named to D3Football.com Team of the Week.
On defense, team captain Noah Joseph ’13 posted 17 tackles (12 solo). Joseph’s performance earned him Liberty League Defensive Performer of the Week.
This past Friday, the Dutchmen took on Utica at home looking to recover from the close loss in the season opener. Utica, however, had different plans in mind.
After jumping out to 28-10 lead at the half, Utica’s high powered offense excelled on the ground and through the air and didn’t look back. They posted 493 yards of offense while Pioneer quarterback Andrew Beckwitt threw for five touchdowns.
The bright spot for Union was running back T.J. Franzese ‘14 rushed for 124 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown. The final score ended in Utica’s favor, 45-17.
Union will look to get their first win of the season the season at Frank Bailey Field at 7 p.m. against Hobart. Hobart is currently atop the Liberty League with a 2-0 record.