The good news for the Union College football team is that despite an 0-3 start, the Dutchmen are co-leaders in the Liberty League.
The bad news is that in order for Union (2-0, 2-3) to remain in first place, they must beat Hobart (1-0, 3-0), the toughest team on their schedule to date. Union and
Hobart are the only unbeaten teams remaining in the league, so the team that wins today will have its title aspirations in its own hands.
Game time on Frank Bailey Field is 1 p.m. Hobart won last year’s meeting in Geneva, 41-35, in double overtime. Union had won the previous three matchups and tops the all-time series, which began in 1896, 50-42-2.
“This is one of the best Hobart teams I’ve seen,” said Union head coach John Audino. “They have good balance between the run and the pass on offense, and they are executing extremely well. They also have a great pressure defense, which is very athletic. They are very big and are a pretty typical Hobart team. At 3-0, they will be quite a test for us.”
Audino is concerned about just how much pressure the Statesmen will bring on defense.
“We’re not sure how they will play in this game,” he said. “I’m sure they will take their chances from time to time, and we expect them to blitz. I’m sure that in certain situations, they will play our top receivers man-to-man in the secondary, and put pressure on our quarterback, but that also gives us an opportunity for the big play. We know they will try to rush the passer. Hopefully, we will make the right moves.”
Union’s multiple offense averages 409 total yards a game, while the Statesmen have piled up 439.3. The biggest difference between the teams is on defense, where Hobart allows just 9.7 points and 219 yards per contest. Union has given up 31 points and 379.2 yards a game.
“I know it doesn’t look like it sometimes, but our defense has been improving a little bit every game,” said Audino. “We are tightening up. We still need to get better defensively in the final 10 to 12 minutes, however.”
Union’s key combination continues to be quarterback Drew Connolly to wideout Justin Gallo. Connolly, who is now fourth on the team’s all-time passing yards list with 6,088, has completed 81 of 136 passes for 1,337 yards and 11 scores.
Gallo is second in the country in receiving yards per game at 156.0, and is also tied for 22nd in receptions per game (7.2). He has caught 36 passes for 780 yards and nine touchdowns.
To keep the Statesmen away from Connolly, Union must be able to run the ball, and so far, the Dutchmen have moved the ball on the ground with various tailbacks. T.J. Franzese is the leader with 204 yards, including 104 last week against WPI, but Dylan Schuck (186 yards), fullback Tim Hersey, freshman Darnel Thomas and freshman Rob Johnson have each produced when called upon.
So has field goal kicker Adam Henry, who has connected on seven of nine field-goal attempts and all 15 of his PATs.
Hobart counters with its own versatile attack led by quarterback Nick Strang (48-for-80, 592 yards, seven TD passes), receiver Garth Muratori (19 catches, 303 yards, four TDs) and running back Steven Webb (194 yards, seven TDs).
“Hobart is a loaded team, especially on offense, but we think we are well prepared,” said Audino.
DANES AT HOME
University at Albany (1-0 Northeast Conference, 2-2 overall) entertains Duquesne (2-0, 4-1) in a key league test today at 1 p.m. on University Field.
UAlbany has won three of the four previous games with the Dukes, who are receiving votes in both national polls. Head coach Jerry Schmitt has 15 starters back from last year’s team.
Quarterback Sean Patterson directs the conference’s top-ranked offense that averages 33.8 points and is fifth nationally in total yards per game (470.8). Patterson has completed 73 of 129 passes for 1,073 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has 269 yards on the ground.
Larry McCoy is third nationally in rushing at 139 yards per game.
UAlbany quarterback Dan Di Lella tossed a career-best three scoring passes in last week’s victory over Saint Francis. The Danes also ran for more than 200 yards.
UTICA AT RPI
The Engineers (2-2) play the Pioneers (2-2) in a non-conference game at 1 p.m. at East Campus
RPI junior quarterback Mike Hermann tops the Liberty League in total offense at 295 yards per game. He has been named the Liberty League player of the week twice this season. He has completed 69 of 122 passes for 812 yards and seven touchdown strikes.
Utica is coming off a 70-45 loss to Salisbury in a game that produced 994 total yards.
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Categories: College Sports