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Union defense working overtime

Union defense working overtime

Union head coach John Audino is thrilled that his quick-strike passing attack was clicking in last w

Does it really matter how long you hold onto the football as long as you score plenty of points?

Yes, it does.

Union head coach John Audino is thrilled that his quick-strike passing attack was clicking in last week’s 31-21 victory over longtime rival Hobart, but the Dutchmen scored so quickly that Hobart’s grind-it-out offense had the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game. That put extra pressure on Union’s defense, which had to stay on the field much longer than normal.

Audino hopes to change that scenario when his Dutchmen visit Leckonby Stadium in Canton to play the St. Lawerence Saints. Game time is 1 p.m.

“We’ve shown that we can score with the big play, and that’s great. Our objective is to score points,” said Audino. “We have a great offensive scheme, and scoring points is the bottom line. But we can’t give our opposition 80-90 plays a game. We need to sustain our drives. Our defense has done an excellent job of not giving up the big plays, but the guys are giving up a lot of yardage. We have the kind of offense that can dominate the time of possession, and we should be doing a better job in that department.”

Audino said that every league game from here on out is crucial to the Dutchmen’s ultimate goal of winning the Liberty League championship and earning a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Union is currently 3-0 in the league and 4-1 overall. St. Lawrence is 1-1 and 2-3. The Dutchmen hold a 30-15-5 lead in the all-time series, which began in 1907. The Dutchmen haven’t lost to the Saints since they dropped a 9-8 decision in Canton on Sept. 9, 1995.

“We’ve played OK up there over the years, but many of the games have been very close,” said Audino. “They are much improved offensively, and they are a solid team.

“We must be careful with this game. It’s a good opportunity for us to create some distance between us and the other teams in the league. The most important thing for us right now is to go 4-0 in league play. Our objective is to take care of our own business, and maybe we can get some help from the other teams in the league. We are halfway through our schedule now, and we’re starting over again.”

The Dutchmen have thrived with both the run and the pass this season. Junior tailback Chris Coney has 609 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while sophomore quarterback Drew Connolly has completed 62 of 120 passes for 1,146 yards and seven scores. Sophomore wideout Justin Gallo, who broke a 42-year-old school record with 246 receiving yards against Hobart, has 25 catches for 566 yards and six touchdowns. Gallo is averaging 22.6 yards per catch.

Union’s defense is paced by linebacker John Peters with 69 tackles. Fellow linebacker Steve Modiszewski was the league’s Defensive Performer of the Week after making a career-high 15 tackles against the Statesmen.

St. Lawrence, which averages 17.6 points per game but allows 31, is led by tailback Connor Hackett with 257 yards and two TDs. Quarterback JP Kearney has completed 56 of 111 passes for 567 yards and three scores.

AUlbany hosts Bryant

University at Albany looks to extend its Northeast Conference winning streak to 17 when the Danes host the Bryant Bulldogs at 1 p.m. on University Field.

Albany improved to 3-0 and 4-2 after last week’s 55-10 pounding of Duquesne. The Danes posted season-highs in rushing (278) and total yards (471) against the Dukes. Senior tailback David McCarty ran for two touchdowns. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in four straight games.

Quarterback Vinny Esposito threw a pair of touchdowns and added a five-yard scoring run for the Danes, who have won 11 straight home games.

Bryant (2-0, 3-2) is in its first year as a member of the NEC. The Bulldogs, who were an accomplished program at the Division II level before going through a four-year reclassification period, have 17 starters returning from last year’s 7-4 team. Running back Jerrell Smith is averaging 108.8 yards per game and is among the school’s all-time leaders in rushing yards (2,128) and all-purpose yards (3,662).

RPI visits Susquehanna

The Engineers, who are coming off a bye week, travel to Lopardo Stadium in Selinsgrove, Pa., to take on Susquehanna.

RPI (1-1, 3-1) is led by freshman quarterback Mike Hermann, who has completed 38 of 71 passes for 559 yards and four touchdowns. He also has 205 yards rushing and five scores. He missed the team’s last game, a loss to Rochester, because of injury.

Junior running back Nick Costa is the Engineers’ leading rusher with 279 yards and three touchdowns.

Susquehanna (2-1, 4-2) defeated Rochester, 17-14 last week. Senior running back Dave Paveletz leads the Liberty League in rushing with 143.8 yards per game and seven touchdowns.

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