Tragedy struck the Union College football team this week, when Gerard Connolly, father of Dutchmen quarterback Drew Connolly, died of a heart attack at age 49.
The entire team took the seven-hour round-trip bus ride to Foxboro, Mass., to attend the wake on Friday. The junior Union signal caller will attend the funeral today and miss the 1 p.m. homecoming game against league-leading St. Lawrence on Frank Bailey Field.
“It happened on Tuesday, and I found out early Wednesday,” said Union head coach John Audino. “I feel badly for Drew and his family. This is a shocking event. The entire team feels very badly about this, and we all plan on paying our proper respects.”
Audino said that junior wide receiver Connor Gallo, a former quarterback from Lansingburgh, will take over at quarterback, with sophomore Chase Richey, another wideout and former quarterback from Florida, in reserve.
“Connor is an unbelievable athlete, and he sees everything out there. I’m not saying he’s going to be able to execute what he sees, but he’s been doing well in practice the last two days,” Audino said. “We had to come up with plans A, B and C.”
The tragic circumstances surrounding his starting quarterback obviously will put a damper on today’s homecoming festivities, but Audino said his Dutchmen
(2-1, 2-2) must somehow find a way to beat St. Lawrence, a surprising 2-0 in Liberty League play and 2-4 overall.
“This is a huge game if we expect to remain in the title chase,” Audino said. “There is no doubt that we really have to win this game. It’s basically the same situation that Hobart was in last week against us. But even though we gave up more than 600 yards in our loss to Hobart, we did see a lot more positives than you might expect. We saw a lot of good things, offensively, and now we have three of our offensive linemen back.”
Union is coming off a 41-35 double-overtime loss to the Statesmen in Geneva. The Dutchmen gave up five touchdown passes and 400 yards through the air.
The good news is that Union also moved the ball exceptionally well, with tailback Chris Coney rushing for more than 100 yards and Connolly bouncing back from an 0-for-7 start to pass for more than 200 yards.
Union will rely on Coney even more today with Connolly out of the picture. Coney leads Union in rushing with 512 yards on 111 carries and three scores. Justin Gallo, Connor Gallo’s older brother, is the team’s top receiver with 21 receptions for 374 yards and three TDs.
Defensively, Union is paced by Anthony Cassese (35 tackles, four pass deflections, one interception), AJ Rochio (34 tackles, one sack) and Steve Modliszewski (26 tackles, one pass deflection).
St. Lawrence, which trails the all-time series with Union, 31-15-5, is spearheaded by Marcus Washington (254 yards, two TDs) and Ramon Mignott (192 yards) on the ground and by quarterback JP Kearney (43-for-94, 678 yards, six TDs). Ethan Sutton is the top receiver with 16 catches for 252 yards and three scores, but Tim Robinson also has 15 catches for 237 yards.
ALBANY ON THE ROAD
The Great Danes, 1-1 in the NEC and 3-2 overall, will try to keep rolling when they visit Joe Walton Stadium in Moon Township, Pa., to take on the Robert Morris Colonials at noon.
Albany is coming off a 48-0 thrashing of Saint Francis, Pa., in the Great Danes’ homecoming last week on University Field. Quarterback Dan Di Lella passed for two touchdowns, and tailback Dillon Roman scored a pair of touchdowns in that game.
Robert Morris (4-0, 5-1), which is receiving votes in both The Sports Network Top-25 and FCS Coaches’ national polls, has won five in a row and 10 of its last 11 games. Quarterback Jeff Sinclair has thrown for 1,219 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is ranked ninth nationally with a 152.2 pass efficiency rating. .
The Colonials are coached by former New York Jets head coach Joe Walton.
RPI AT HOME
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute also will be celebrating its homecoming against the nationally ranked Alfred Saxons at 1 p.m. at East Campus Stadium.
RPI is 1-1 in the Liberty League and 2-2 overall. Sophomore quarterback Mike Hermann and senior receiver Pat McCarthy are the top offensive players for the Engineers, who are coming off a bye week.
The Saxons, ranked 21st in the country, are 5-0. Junior quarterback Tom Secky has completed 87 of 128 passes for 1,156 yards and 11 scores. His main target is Ryan Thon with 27 catches for 406 yards and five touchdowns.
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Categories: College Sports