One more chance to shine.
That’s the way Union head coach John Audino approaches today’s ECAC Division III North Atlantic Bowl game against Hartwick at
1 p.m. on Frank Bailey Field.
The 7-3 Dutchmen, co-champions of the Liberty League, lost their chance to earn an NCAA playoff berth when they fell to Susquehanna, 28-17, last week, but Audino feels it’s important for both his veterans and his youngsters to get one more opportunity for victory.
“There is a very good field in the ECAC tournament this year,” Audino said. “We would do it [play in the ECACs] every year if the situation came up because it’s an opportunity to play another game. It’s important for our players to get another win and another championship under their belts. We are proud to be co-champions of the Liberty League, but losing the chance to participate in the NCAA tournament was obviously a big disappointment. This is a second chance for us. There are only 44 Division III football teams still playing at this time of year, and we consider ourselves fortunate to be one of them.”
Tickets are priced at $10 for chairback seating, $8 for reserved seating, $5 for general admission (lawn tickets) and $3 for children age 12 and under. Union students will be admitted free with their ID. The Union box office at Frank Bailey Field opens this morning at 11.
One major point of concern for Union is the status of junior tailback Chris Coney, who despite missing much of the second half with a knee injury, ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns against the Crusaders.
“The kid has been battling injuries since our first game of the season against Ithaca,” said Audino. “He has missed practice time all year, but he keeps bouncing back. Obviously, not having him fully healthy in the second half against Susquehanna hurt us. When he goes out, it causes us to make some major adjustments, and we didn’t adjust very well against Susquehanna. We are very banged up as a team right now, and Coney’s status will be a game-time decision. We don’t want him to injure himself even more seriously than he already has.”
Coney is 20th in the nation in rushing with 1,164 yards, and he also has 15 rushing touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Drew Connolly has completed 123 of 256 passes for 1,856 yards, nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Classmate Justin Gallo leads the receiving corps with 42 receptions for 809 yards and seven scores.
Defensively, senior linebacker John Peters is 13th in the nation in tackles with 117.
Hartwick (5-4), which has 26 Capital Region players on its roster, including seven starters, features an explosive offense led by quarterback Brian Radley (139-for-281, 2,150 yards, 21 touchdowns) and wideout Noah Koreman (43 catches, 1,080 yards, 16 touchdowns, 25.1 yards per catch).
Union has won seven of the previous eight meetings with the Hawks. The Dutchmen are 5-1 in ECAC playoff games.
“This game should be very interesting,” said Audino. “They have a lot of local kids on their roster, and their team travels well. I’m sure they will bring a lot of fans.
“This is a good reward for our team, and our kids are looking forward to playing.”
DANES SEEK TITLE SHARE
University at Albany, 5-2 in the Northeast Conference and 6-4 overall, still has a slight chance of earning a share of the league title when the Great Danes travel to Wagner College Stadium today at 1 to face the 5-2, 6-4 Seahawks.
Albany is tied for second place in the league standings with Wagner. If the Danes win and top-seeded Central Connecticut State loses its final game today against St. Francis (Pa.), Albany can earn a piece of the league crown.
Quarerback Vinny Esposito has moved into second place on the Great Danes’ career total offense list with 5,691 yards, while tailback David McCarty (LaSalle), the program’s all-time leader rusher , is third on the NEC’s all-time rushing list with 4,270 yards. He is also one touchdown away from Gary Jones’ team record of 42 scores. Senior wideout Tim Bush (Saratoga Springs) is the Danes’ all-time leading receiver with 142 receptions.
The Great Danes, coming off a bye week, lost to Robert Morris,
13-10, two weeks ago on University Field. Albany has won or shared the NEC title in 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2008.
Wagner is ranked 24th among national FCS leaders in both scoring (31.0 ppg) and rushing (173.1 yards per game). Nick Descher, a 22-year-old freshman quarterback, originally pursued a professional baseball career with the Kansas City Royals. He has passed for 1,174 yards and seven scores to go along with 691 yards rushing.
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Categories: College Sports