SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Union College defense put together another dominating defensive effort, recording seven sacks and a pair of interceptions as the Garnet Chargers brought the Dutchman Shoes trophy back to Schenectady with a 13-7 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday afternoon at Frank Bailey Field at Bertagna-Class of 1985 Stadium.
The win is Union’s 50th in the 73rd edition of the Dutchman Shoes rivalry, as well as Union’s 84th victory overall in the 120th game, played in New York State’s oldest college football rivalry.
On a day when the Union offense gained 363 yards but only managed 13 points, the defensive unit stepped up in a big way to bring home the Shoes and make one final case for a possible at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. Senior Spencer Goldstien posted a game-high nine tackles and added a huge sack on RPI’s final drive, and classmates Nathan Sullivan and Jake Benishay had huge third-quarter interceptions to keep RPI off the board for the first three frames.
Fellow senior Michael Fiore and junior Jonathan Anderson led a rushing attack that racked up 256 yards on the ground, with Fiore rushing 23 times for 136 yards and Anderson netting 100 yards on 17 carries. Senior Donovan Pacatte added the team’s lone touchdown on the ground while also throwing for 110 yards.
After a three-and-out on the first drive of the game, Union got the ball back for a second time at its own 31-yard line and traversed 55 yards in nine plays to set up a 31-yard field goal from junior Max Gluck with 7:27 to go in the first that gave the home team an early lead. Following an RPI missed field goal and punts from both teams, the Garnet Chargers put together the longest drive of the game for either side, a six-play, 86-yard march that put Union up by double digits. The big play on the drive was a 47-yard heave from Pacatte to junior Landers Green that set Union up inside the red zone, and Pacatte finished off the drive with a keeper from four yards out to make it a 10-0 score less than two minutes into the second stanza.
The Union defense continued to step up after that, continually finding ways to keep the visitors off the scoreboard. Senior Tommy Cavallo recorded a strip-sack on fourth down that ended an Engineer drive inside the Union 30-yard line, and fellow senior Ethan VanderBrink ended another RPI drive with a third-down sack of Justin McCormack. Senior Emilio Camou put another abrupt half to a promising RPI drive by ripping the ball from Sterling Walker-Sutton at the 10-yard line, and Cavallo recovered to keep it a 10-0 game at the half.
After the teams traded missed field goal to start the third quarter, Benishay set Union up with excellent field position on its next drive by intercepting a McCormack pass and returning it to the RPI 31-yard line. Although the Garnet Chargers could not get a first down, Gluck kicked one through from 33 yards out to put the home team up 13-0. It was then Sullivan’s turn to pick off McCormack and returned the ball 35 yards to the RPI 30.
Union had a chance to put the game away on the subsequent drive, but did not convert on 4th-and-1 inside the 10-yard line to give the ball back to the Engineers. Seizing on that momentum, RPI had its best drive of the game, going 84 yards on 13 plays to get within a possession at 13-7 with 10:30 to go. Another failed fourth down for Union gave the ball back to the visitors with 5:58 on the clock, but the Union defense stepped up one last time, with senior Jack Flanagan recording a huge first-down sack near midfield and then Goldstein adding a sack of his own on third down to force an RPI punt.
From there, a steady dose of Fiore was enough to close out the contest, with back-to-back runs of 11 and 13 yards giving Union the chance to end the game in victory formation.
With the win, Union (9-1, 5-1 Liberty League) puts itself in position to possibly earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Garnet Chargers will learn their fate on Sunday at 5 p.m. when the NCAA Division III Championship selection show will be streamed on