Union's Rally Stifles Saints as Dutchmen Win 35-14
Oct. 18: The St. Lawrence University football team jumped out to an impressive 14-0 first quarter lead behind outstanding play from sophomore quarterback JP Kearney against Union on Saturday afternoon at Frank Bailey Field. However, the Dutchmen would battle back behind three touchdowns from the Liberty League's top rusher Chris Coney and a fantastic second half defensive effort to top the Saints 35-14.
Saturday's first half proved to be the tale of two quarters, as the Saints dominated the first 15 minutes while Union (3-3, 2-2) answered in the second quarter to tie the score at 14-14.
St. Lawrence (0-6, 0-3) began the game on defense, though a fumble recovery by sophomore Nate Howard would quickly give the visitors the football and decent field position. Thanks to a clutch third down conversion pass from Kearney to senior wide receiver Ryan Cooney, the Saints were able to march the ball down the field and complete a 10-play, 77-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by junior tail back Connor Hackett. Senior Matt Popov added the extra point for a 7-0 St. Lawrence lead.
After allowing only one first down to Union's offense on the next drive, the Saints' defense would force a punt and took over at their own 36-yard line. Hackett and classmate Eric Jones would handle the majority of the work, as the duo combined for 61 yards on the drive and pushed the Saints' lead to 14-0. After Jones ran the ball for 15 yards down to the Union 5-yard line, Kearney found Hackett cutting over the middle, and the Bronxville, NY native lunged across the goal line for his second touchdown of the game while Popov added the extra point.
Though Union looked stunned on their sidelines after the first quarter came to a close, the Dutchmen would use the play of rookie quarterback Andrew Connolly and Coney to get back into the contest. On the ensuing Union drive, Coney burst up the middle on a draw play for a 35-yard gain out to his own 46-yard marker. On the following play, the Dutchmen used play action to open up Justin Gallo downfield, as he caught a 54-yard pass from Connolly for a touchdown to cut into the lead. Ben Rapple's extra point made it 14-7 in St. Lawrence's favor with 14:17 to play in the first half.
The Saints appeared to be headed for another score on their following drive, as they moved the football from their own 33-yard line all the way to Union's 14. However, Jones would cough up the ball at the Dutchmen 7-yard line and Union pounced on the fumble to take possession and squander a key chance for the Saints' offense.
Union wasn't able to get much going in their favor offensively on their next drive, but an interception by John DeLuca at the St. Lawrence 28-yard line would give the Dutchmen great field position and a chance to even the scoring. After Kyle Holmes gave Union a fresh set of downs on a 3rd-down conversion that moved the ball to the 5-yard line, Coney took a handoff, slipped a tackle and found the end zone for his first touchdown of the afternoon with 2:51 remaining in the second quarter. Rapple's extra point would tie the game at 14-14 and complete the first half scoring.
In his best half of collegiate football to date, Kearney did a great job distributing the football to his playmakers in the first half, as he finished 12-of-19 passing for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Despite St. Lawrence's best efforts to upset the Dutchmen on Homecoming Day in Schenectady, NY, the second half was owned by the home team, who scored 21 points in the third quarter to open up a solid 35-14 lead. A key play in the game proved to be a fumble by Kearney that looked to be an incomplete pass due to his arm moving forward. However, the officials ruled it a loose ball, which was recovered by the Dutchmen. On their first play from scrimmage following the fumble, Union called on Jared Gourrier on a half-back option and he came through with a 36-yard completion to Gallow down to the St. Lawrence 13-yard line. One play later, Coney took ball up the gut and waltzed untouched into the end zone to give Union their first lead of the game, 21-14, after Rapple's extra point.
After forcing St. Lawrence to punt the ball away following only one first down, Union took over at the St. Lawrence 42-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Connolly showed his value with an athletic throw across his body to a wide-open Gourrier. The wide receiver took the ball all the way down to the Saints' 5, and two snaps later, Coney ran in his third touchdown of the afternoon from 15 yards out. Rapple's extra point made it 28-14.
The Union defense continued to stifle the Saints' offense, which had been so productive moving the ball in the first quarter. After a three-and-out following the touchdown, Connolly hit Chris Boland for a 71-yard touchdown completion that electrified the Union fans and capped the game's scoring at 35-14.
St. Lawrence finished with a solid 21-12 advantage in first downs while both teams went for over 300 yards of offense (393 yards, Union and 347 yards, SLU). Kearney finished 22-of-41 for St. Lawrence with 222 yards passing, while Jones was the leading rusher for the Scarlet and Brown, picking up 68 yards on 13 carries. Hackett, who pulled to within eight touchdowns of the University career record, was the team's leading receiver with 60 yards on eight receptions.
The Saints will head back to Canton, NY in search of their first win next weekend as they welcome Liberty League powerhouse Rensselaer to Leckonby Stadium on Saturday, October 25. Kick-off is set for 1:00pm.