Categories: College Sports
Don’t talk to Union College senior middle linebacker Jake LaRovera about giving up or making excuses after the Dutchmen’s 0-5 start. He will have none of it.
“We’ve been in some tough, close games, and last week’s loss at Springfield [20-17] was one of the toughest,” he said. “But like coach [John] Audino is always telling us, football is a very unpredictable sport. One bad bounce of the football or one play can determine the game’s outcome. I’m not giving up, and neither are any of my teammates.”
The Dutchmen attempt to win their first game of the season on homecoming today against Worcester Polytechnic Institute at 1:30 on Frank Bailey Field. Union leads the all-time series with the Engineers 33-9. Although the Dutchmen have won 17 of the previous 19 meetings, WPI won last year for its first triumph against Union since 2008.
In other local college football games, University at Albany also celebrates its homecoming on the newly named Bob Ford Field at Casey Stadium against Maine at 3:30, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute heads to Canton to take on St. Lawrence in a key Liberty League game at 1.
LaRovera made a career-high 16 tackles last week against the Pride. He now has 210 career tackles, ranking him 14th on the Dutchmen’s all-time list. He said he doesn’t think about Union’s losing streak when he’s in uniform.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t think about losing at all when I’m on the field,” he said. “But in clutch situations, I do try to concentrate more. because I know that’s when the game can be won or lost. When you are on defense, you try to do what is under your control and make the big play. You’ve got to keep your head up. Believe me, none of us have given up in our locker room. We are all digging in.”
Audino said it’s not difficult to stay positive, especially the way his players are competing on every play.
“First of all, our kids are giving us everything they’ve got,” he said. “They are fun to work with, because they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them. In fact, they’ve been a great, hard-working bunch since training camp. I truly believe that once we get over the hump, and by that I mean making the key plays at the right time, you are going to see us win some games in the second half of the season.”
Audino said last week’s game at Springfield was an excellent example of how his team didn’t give up.
“They battled back after getting down 17-3. We came back and almost won that game. You can’t fault their effort or their enthusiasm,” he said. “I’m confident things will turn around.”
WPI (0-2 Liberty League, 3-2 overall) is led by tailback Zach Grasis, who has 378 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Quarterback Dan Eckler has thrown for 1,178 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 60.8 percent of his passes.
The Great Danes will try to bounce back from a 37-0 pounding at Holy Cross last week. It was the first shutout since Greg Gattuso took over the program two years ago.
“We didn’t play well in any phase of the game against Holy Cross,” Gattuso said during Monday’s weekly Colonial Athletic Association conference call. “It was frustrating, and we didn’t see it coming. We didn’t play with any passion, and that was evident from the opening kickoff. I was disappointed because we couldn’t do anything to get back into it.”
The Danes (2-3) will need more production from both segments of their offense. Christian Brothers Academy graduate Elliot Croskey ran for just 58 yards after rushing for better than 100 yards in his previous two games, while quarterback DJ Crook passed for only 94 yards.
RPI ON THE ROAD
RPI visits St. Lawrence in a game at Leckonby Stadium that pits teams with identical 4-1 overall records and 2-0 league marks. The winner remains in first place in the league.
RPI quarterback Jeff Avery was the Liberty League’s offensive performer of the week after completing 23 of 30 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-7 win over Merchant Marine Academy.