SCHENECTADY — Jack Flanagan has dealt with nervous energy prior to a football game plenty of times, but last week was different.
This time, any nerves the Union senior defensive end had weren’t for himself. They were for his younger brother, Patch, who in one week went from being fourth on Union’s quarterback depth chart to earning his first career start against Buffalo State.
“I was probably more nervous for him,” Jack Flanagan said, “than I was for myself.”
Patch Flanagan, a freshman, got the nod after starter Donovan Pacatte injured his left (non-throwing) shoulder late in the first half of Union’s Sept. 24 loss to Utica. In the following week of practice, the Madison, Connecticut native beat out senior Stratton Sherman — who replaced the injured Pacatte against Utica — and junior Kyle Bicho to earn the starting role.
Like his older brother, Patch Flanagan had some nervous energy, too, but it was done away with rather quickly.
“[It was gone] after the first snap,” he said. “Once I realized I could do it, I just went from there.”
From there, it went rather well.
The younger Flanagan engineered a touchdown drive on his first collegiate series, and ended the day 10 of 17 as a passer for 114 yards and thre touchdowns, while also adding 47 rushing yards on five carries as Union won its Liberty League opener 45-0.
For that performance, Patch Flanagan earned Liberty League Rookie of the Week honors.
“With his demeanor, his confidence, I was really confident in him being in that situation,” Union head coach Jeff Behrman said.
“It felt great,” Patch Flanagan said. “After that first snap, a lot of pressure was relieved. It was a good start.”
It was a good day all around for the Flanagan brothers, as Jack collected 1 ½ sacks and two tackles for loss as the Dutchmen (1-0 Liberty League, 4-1 overall) defense recorded its first shutout of the season.
It was also special as, given the three-year age difference between the brothers, they never got a chance to play at the same time when they attended Daniel Hand High School.
“We never really got to do this in high school,” Jack Flanagan said. “It’s special. I love watching him play, and it’s been really special being here with him.”
How much of an opportunity Patch Flanagan gets the rest of the season remains to be seen. Pacatte was back at practice this week, and Behrman said the senior — who accounted for eight passing touchdowns and three rushing scores prior to his injury against Utica — will start on Saturday when the Dutchmen head to Canton for a Liberty League game against St. Lawrence (0-0, 2-2).
After last week’s performance, however, Patch Flanagan is firmly entrenched at No. 2 on the depth chart.
“[Pacatte’s] had a great week of practice, and so has Patch,” Behrman said. “Donnie’s the starter, and Patch’ll be ready to go.”
A look at Saturday’s other area college football games:
UALBANY AT MONMOUTH, 1 P.M.
Coming off a bye week following the team’s first win of the season, UAlbany (0-1 CAA, 1-3 overall) heads back into conference play with a trip to New Jersey to face CAA newcomer Monmouth in what could be a matchup of impressive offenses. UAlbany has scored 90 points in its last two games behind the efforts of quarterback Reese Poffenbarger (1,083 passing yards, 8 TDs), running back Todd Sibley Jr. (433 rushing yards, 5 TDs) and tight end Thomas Greaney (305 receiving yards, 4 TDs). Monmouth (1-1, 3-2) has been equally impressive on offense, averaging 39.8 points per game. The Hawks are on a three-game winning streak, including an upset of Villanova two weeks ago.
BUFFALO STATE AT RPI, NOON
After getting its offense back on track with last week’s 31-3 win over Rochester, RPI (1-0 Liberty League, 3-1 overall) is back at home in Troy to take on a Buffalo State (0-1, 0-4) team that’s lost 18 straight games and is coming off last week’s 45-0 loss to Union. RPI’s defense has been among the best in NCAA Division III, surrendering 23 points over five games and allowing just one team to reach double digits. RPI’s offense has been uneven, with the Engineers putting up 82 points in their three wins and seven points in their two losses.