On a team loaded with talented skill-position players, Tim Hersey flies under the radar, but his contributions to the Union College offense go well beyond the numbers.
The 5-foot-9, 215-pound junior fullback does much of the dirty work for the Dutchmen when it comes to various blocking assignments, but he also showed his versatility by running for more than 60 yards — many of them in the crucial fourth quarter — to help Union defeat Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 38-28, in last week’s battle for the Dutchman’s Shoes Trophy.
Union will need another solid performance from Hersey when the Dutchmen travel to Kings Point to take on the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy today at 1 p.m.
“He’s had a great year for us,” said Union head coach John Audino. “He’s one of the smartest football players, if not the smartest, on our team. He knows all the offensive schemes for both running and passing. He’s also a tough character.
“He’s a throwback kind of player to the good old days. He’d rather run through you than around you. He’s got good running skills and receiving skills. He seems to be able to pick up the seams in the line. We really missed him last year when he was injured, and he’s been a big part of our offense this year, whether it’s blocking, running or receiving.”
Union’s deep backfield has had five different runners lead the team in rushing this year, and tailbacks Dylan Schuck, Darnel Thomas and T.J. Franzese have split most of the carries. Hersey remained in the shadows until last Saturday.
“He kind of sneaks up on you. He doesn’t wow you with great speed, but he gets the job done,” Audino said.
Today’s game is the final Liberty League contest for Union, and Audino said there is plenty of motivation for the Dutchmen, who lost last year’s game, 28-21, to the Cadets when Derrick Ventre scored on a 12-yard run with just 2:26 left in the game.
“In order for us to guarantee a winning season, we need to win this game,” said Audino, whose team is 4-4 overall with two games remaining. “If we can get to 5-1 in the Liberty League, that’s one of the best records we’ve ever had in the league, with the exception of a couple of unbeaten seasons when we won the title. Plus, we can still finish in second place in the league, or even in first place if we get some help with other teams in the league beating Hobart. It’s a very important game for us.”
Union would need RPI to beat Hobart this week, and then have the unbeaten Statesmen lose their final Liberty League matchup next week in order to have any chance for the Liberty League title since the Statesmen own the tiebreaker over Union, which closes out the regular season with a non-league game against Springfield next Saturday at home.
Along with its deep rushing attack, Union’s quick-strike aerial attack has also excelled this season. Last week, senior quarterback Drew Connolly tossed five touchdown passes and completed 18 of 29 passes for 335 yards. Justin Gallo caught three of those scoring strikes, and his brother, Connor, hauled in the other two.
Connolly is fourth on the team’s all-time passing yards list (6,766), while Justin Gallo, ninth in the country in receiving yards per game (123.8), is second on Union’s all-time receiving yards list with 3,100, 153 behind Steve Angiletta.
Merchant Marine (1-3, 2-6) has a strong rushing attack led by JP Gosselin with 758 yards on 155 carries. Quarterback Alex Coviello adds 556 yards and five TDs on the ground to go along with 354 yards passing and five TD strikes.
DANES AT HOME
University at Albany continues its quest for the Northeast Conference regular-season championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs when the Great Danes host the Bryant Bulldogs at 1 p.m. at University Field.
UAlbany (5-0, 6-2) is riding a six-game winning streak. Junior tailback Andrew “Drew” Smith, from Guilderland, rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown to help the Danes beat Wagner, 24-0, in the snow last week. Smith, who tops the Great Danes with better than 700 rushing yards, was named the NEC Player of the Week for the second time. He’s accounted for 100 or more all-purpose yards in six consecutive games.
UAlbany is eighth in scoring (35.9 ppg) and tied for ninth in red-zone efficiency (91 percent) among FCS national leaders.
The key player for the Bulldogs is running back Jordan Brown, a Walter Payton Award candidate who leads the conference in rushing (163.5 yards per game), scoring (13.8 ppg) and all-purpose yards (241.1). He’s run for 100 or more yards eight times.
RPI FACES HOBART
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2-2, 3-4) travels to Boswell Field in Geneva to take on the league-leading Statesmen of Hobart (4-0, 6-0).
Junior QB Mike Hermann has completed 127 of 216 passes for 1,526 yards and 11 touchdown passes for the Engineers. Hermann tops the league in total offense, producing 290.3 yards per game. Hobart, which averages 37 points and 410. total yards per game, can lock up the league title with a win.
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Categories: College Sports