SCHENECTADY — When Union College senior running back Connor Kinzelmann’s high-stepping 88-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage was called back because of a holding penalty, the Dutchmen’s emotional high quickly plummeted.
“Yeah, it took some wind out of our sails, but just for a minute or two,” junior quarterback Nick Cascione said. “But you’ve just got to brush it off. That’s all part of football.”
Kinzelmann, Cascione and the rest of the Dutchmen did more than brush it off, as they helped lead a confident offense and resilient defense to a convincing 28-13 victory over Coast Guard Saturday before a crowd of 1,132 at Frank Bailey Field. Union, which plays three of the next four games on the road, evens its record at 1-1 and improves its all-time series mark against Coast Guard to 18-5. The Dutchmen and Bears haven’t played since 2005.
Despite the nullified score, Kinzelmann, a Columbia High School graduate, recorded his fifth career 100-yard rushing performance with 136 yards on 26 carries. Cascione completed 18 of 25 passes for 166 yards and two TD strikes to pace an offense that dominated the clock with a possession-time edge of 35:24 to 24:36. He also scored on a 6-yard run to cap off a 68-yard, 18-play drive that took 8:33 off the clock in the third quarter. During that long drive, Cascione converted all three fourth-down attempts, running for the first down twice and flipping to tight end Ryan Hanney for another conversion.
“I loved it,” Cascione said about the successful fourth-down plays. “It felt good to be trusted. It felt amazing that Coach had that much confidence in us. We’ve just got to keep working. I have no worries whatsoever. I know we’re on the road for the next three weeks, but we’ve just got to keep working hard and play well so all the fans come back when we’re back home.”
“It felt good to convert some of those short-yardage plays. They were big plays for us,” second-year Union head coach Jeff Behrman said. “We didn’t do that last year. We wanted to be more aggressive, and the kids executed. It was definitely a confidence builder. We were starting three freshmen on the OL today. Also, I was very happy with Cascione. He wasvery calm and relaxed today. The next three games on the road will help bond us.”
Union regrouped after having its opening-play TD taken off the board and went 87 yards in 4:57. Cascione found Griffin Beal for a 43-yard touchdown pass in the near corner of the end zone. Beal, a sophomore wideout, stretched out as far as he could to make the play.
The Dutchmen’s defense took over on the next series, as just two plays later, junior linebacker Jack Reilly intercepted Ethan Goldcamp’s pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to give Union a 14-0 lead with 9:07 left in the opening quarter.
Coast Guard, using a hurry-up offense, completed four passes on its next series, capped by Cody Bain’s 8-yard TD reception from Goldcamp.
Union extended its lead to 21-7 when Cascione and Alex Kaplanovich hooked up for a 4-yard TD pass with four minutes left in the first half.
The Dutchmen clinched the game for all intents and purposes with that long drive to start the third quarter. Kinzelmann set up the score with a 65-yard breakaway run that put Union on the Coast Guard 2-yard line.
“Our guys up front were opening up some big holes for me, and I had a lot of room to run,” Kinzelmann said.
Coast Guard picked up a late score with just 51 seconds left in the game on an 8-yard TD pass from Goldcamp to Justin Moffatt. After recovering the onside kick, the Bears were threatening to score again, but the Dutchmen defense stiffened with quarterback sacks by George Reed and Vincent DiCaterino (two). Jake Lombardo totaled 13 tackles.
Coast Guard 7 0 0 6 — 13
Union 14 7 7 0 — 28
U — Beal 43 pass from Cascione (Schaible kick).
U — Reilly 27 interception return (Schaible kick).
CG — Bain 8 pass from Goldcamp (Austin kick).
U — Kaplanovich 4 pass from Cascione (Schaible kick).
U — Cascione 6 run (Schaible kick).
CG — Moffatt 8 pass from Goldcamp (kick failed).