Putting Union football’s 76-7 win over Worcester State in context, both historical and modern

A penalty flag flies next to Union's Jonathan Anderson and Worcester State's Quinn O'Brien at Frank Bailey Field Saturday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A penalty flag flies next to Union's Jonathan Anderson and Worcester State's Quinn O'Brien at Frank Bailey Field Saturday.

Days later, and Union football’s 76-7 win Saturday against Worcester State at Frank Bailey Field still seems quite mind-boggling.

That’s unsurprising, considering the Union offense reached heights against the Lancers that the program hadn’t hit since the late 19th century, in the days before the forward pass was legal and before even the earliest crude, leather helmets were used as standard to protect players.

Union’s outburst against Worcester State was the program’s second-highest scoring total in a single game in Dutchmen history, and the most points the team scored in a game since way … way back in 1894.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” Union coach Jeff Behrman said following the game. “I thought they executed the game plan really well. Their week of preparation and practice and meetings was as good as it’s ever been since my time, so to see them go out there and perform and execute at the level that they did — on both sides of the ball and on special teams — was what we wanted to see.”

Here are five notes and insights putting Union’s offensive explosion into context — both historical and modern:

STILL NO. 1

As incredibly impressive as Union’s offensive output was on Saturday, it still lagged a good three touchdowns behind the greatest scoring performance in Dutchman football history.

That 96-0 win over Hamilton on Nov. 10, 1894 in Clinton will be hard to top. Ninety-six points in a game is rarified air. While scores that lopsided were a bit more commonplace in the earliest days of football — Georgia Tech’s 222-0 win over Cumberland in 1916 being the all-time standard — they’ve all but disappeared from the modern age of the game. Just 12 teams since World War II have hit the century mark in a single game, with only three of those happening in the last 50 years and only one — Rockford beating Trinity Bible 105-0 in 2003 — since the start of the 21st century.

As for Union’s record output? It was probably the Dutchmen getting some frustration out. They’d scored just six points in the previous three games, including back-to-back shutout losses to Williams and Army.

HOME COOKIN’

While it sits second all-time, Saturday’s scoring total was Union’s highest-ever in a home game.

Prior to Saturday, the Dutchmen had scored 70 points in a home game just twice in program history. Those came in back-to-back games in Nov. 1891 against teams that would have much different futures.

The first? That was the previous home record, a 75-0 win over Syracuse, which would go on to be one of college football’s premier powers in the Northeast for nearly a century.

The second? That came 10 days later against Albany Academy, a 72-0 pasting that might help explain why the Cadets eventually opted to play as a high school, rather than remain a prep school playing college opponents.

ON THE FLIP SIDE

The late 19th century also saw Union on the wrong side of some lopsided results. The biggest loss in program history came on Oct. 16, 1889, a season-opening 130-0 defeat at the hands of Williams in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

The 1889 season will go down as one of Union’s strangest on the scoreboard. All five games that Union played during that season — in which the team went 1-3-1 — were shutouts. After the loss to Williams, Union fell to 0-3 with back-to-back losses to Ridgefield Athletic Club by scores of 60-0 and 12-0, then a 10-0 win in the school’s second-ever meeting with eternal rival RPI before the season ended with a signature of the early days of football, a 0-0 tie with Rochester in Elmira.

READING THE TEA LEAVES

Maybe, just maybe, Saturday’s explosion shouldn’t have been much of a surprise.

After all, when the Dutchmen visited Worcester State in 2021, the result was very nearly as impressive. Union won that game 62-13, marking the first time since a 66-0 win over Norwich in October 1991 that the Dutchmen had crossed the 60-point barrier in a game.

Dating back to last season, Worcester State has now allowed eight of its last 12 opponents to score at least 40 points.

LOST IN THE CROWD
Scoring 76 points in a single game and 118 in two seems like a lot, right? Well, it doesn’t make Union the top scoring offense in NCAA Division III football — or even put the Dutchmen in the top five.

Two teams have already exceeded the Dutchmen’s single-game high for the year — Carleton scored 84 in its season opener, and Hardin-Simmons scored 79 — and Union’s 59.0 points per game average is tied for sixth nationally with Grove City, though those two teams do share the best scoring average for a team that’s played more than one game.

Categories: College Sports, Sports, Sports, Union College

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