By Kirti Chakote
It would be hard to blame the average sports fan, based on just looking at the overall record, for confusing Union College football team’s performance at this time of the year with how they were doing last season.
With an undefeated record in league play and an overall 4-3 record, Union is faced with a similar scenario going in to play Hobart this weekend. Hobart (7-0 ovr., 4-0 conf.) is the other undefeated team in league play, and the Dutchmen will once again set out to defeat their rivals for the top spot in the conference.
Union is riding an incredible wave of four-straight victories after a very hard start to the season. The team’s most recent win came against the University of Rochester (3-4 ovr., 2-3 conf.) on Saturday during Union College’s Homecoming weekend in front of a roaring crowd of students, alumni and families.
Top offensive performers for the game included starting quarterback Conor Eck ‘15, who threw for 124 yards with his first interception of the season, running back T.J. Franzese ‘14, who rushed for a career high 174 yards and two touchdowns, and wide receiver Kyle Reynolds ‘15, who caught five passes for 73 yards. Defensively, Senior captain linebacker Noah Joseph compiled 14 tackles and one interception, defensive end Casey Muse ‘14 had 10 tackles with two sacks, and outside linebacker Connor Beerworth ‘13 tallied nine tackles.
After a 62-minute game delay due to rain and lighting in the area, the game resumed with 8:18 remaining in the first quarter. Within six plays of returning to the field, Franzese scored his first touchdown of the game with a six yard rush, capping an 11-play, 63 yard drive. To make sure Union kept the lead at the end of the first, Kevin Calello ‘13, defensive back, intercepted a Rochester pass. After two more drives led by Eck that ended with touchdowns on the ground, another by Franzese and one by Darnell Thomas ’15, and a failed field goal attempt and point after, Union led 20-0 going at the end of the half. Within the first 30 minutes of play, Union had 200 yards rushing at halftime, while the Yellowjackets only had eight.
However, in the third quarter, Union would struggle with only five rushing yards. Rochester would capitalize with 93 yards passing in the quarter and score its only points of the game. Both teams would keep each other off the board for the rest of the game, and the final horn would blow with a 20-7 win for the Dutchmen. This was the fourth straight game that Union kept its opponent under 300 yards, and its sixth this season with 300 or less.
Since it was faced with a situation similar to last season, Union understood what it needed to do to get itself out of the hole and create a string of wins to put itself on top of the conference. It is a strong cohesive unit that Union has relied on in the past four games, where the offense, defense and special teams have all complemented each other.
Although all parts of the football team have stepped up, it is important to note the impressive performance of the core rotating offensive line that has allowed Union’s skill players to put up impressive numbers. The line includes Senior captain Elias Damouni ‘13, Mike Miceli ‘14, Greg Skjold ‘13, John Masini ‘13, Pete Meile ‘13, and Anthony Vitiello ‘13.
In regards to last season, Union hopes for a different result against Hobart. Union hopes to earn a win against the team, ranked number 11 in the nation, at Boswell Field in Geneva, New York. The Dutchmen don’t want to share another Liberty League Championship with them.
“We don’t plan to take the foot off the pedal. We really want to take it to Hobart,” said Eck. “It’s the biggest game of the year. We have been looking forward to it the whole season.”