SCHENECTADY, N.Y.-This afternoon Union College will honor the
returning members of the 1991 team that posted a 9-0-0 regular-season record
and advanced to the second round of the NCAA playoffs. This will also be a homecoming for two
former Union players and a former Union coach who are now members of the
University of Rochester coaching staff.
Lewis Acquarulo, Class of 1994, and Devon Wimberly, Class of 2001, were
both defensive standouts during their days in a Garnet uniform while Jay
Bendekovic was an offensive line coach for Union before moving to Rochester.
While it will be nice to see old friends, winning a football
game will be the order of business for the Dutchmen and Yellowjackets. Union looks to improve on its 7-1 record and
thus keep its playoff hopes alive while Rochester's goal is to snap a two-game
losing streak that has seen its record slip to 3-5.
Senior quarterback Ben Gilbert should become the Dutchmen's
all-time career passing leader this afternoon.
Gilbert, who has thrown for 7,366 yards and a Union-best 67 career
touchdown passes, needs just 87 yards to surpass Brett Russ's (Class of '92)
career mark of 7,452. Russ, a two-time
team MVP who led the Dutchmen to a four-year standard of 36-5, was at the helm
of the 1991 squad. He also led the 1989
Dutchmen to a 13-1 record and a berth in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, the
Division III National Championship game.
The Dutchmen's defense, which has taken a back seat to an
offensive unit that is averaging 425.6 yards and almost 40 points a game, came
up big in last week's 23-21 victory over Hartwick. Senior end Josh Stinehour (a native of Rochester) was in on three
of the Garnet Wave's four sacks and now has 19 for the season. Stinehour, who is among the national
leaders, needs just four more to surpass Gregg Hallas's (Class of '90)
single-season record of 22. James
Weaver's fourth-quarter interception and 14-yard return set up Union's winning
touchdown against the Hawks and George Kandirakis picked off his team-high
sixth pass of the season, just to name a few of the standouts that contributed
to the victory.
“They played the best
game of the season and maybe the best game of the last two years,” said head
coach John Audino. “Individually and as
a unit, those guys really rose to the occasion.”
Union's linebacking trio of Mike Rosenthal, Chris Fiengo and
Mike Ranfone continue to lead the tackle chart with 66, 59, and 58 total
tackles, respectively. Stinehour is
next with 39 followed by tackle Justin Sievert's 37. Kandirakis has a team-high 19 pass deflections. The Dutchmen Defenders are allowing an average
of 226.5 yards a game, and just 65.5 on the ground.
Offensively, junior tailback George Beebe leads a ground
attack that is averaging 234.5 yards.
Beebe, who has rushed for over 100 yards in all seven of his starts (he
missed the Coast Guard game with an ankle injury), is averaging 121.9 yards a
game and has scored eight of the Dutchmen's 22 rushing touchdowns. Fullback Matt Laporta has put an exclamation
point on what was already an outstanding career. Laporta, who came into the season 512 rushing yards, 445
receiving yards, and nine career touchdowns (five of which came on the ground),
enters the game having scored 12 times this season. He has rushed for 176 yards and five touchdowns and caught 16 passes
for 188 yards and a team-high seven scores.
In all, Laporta has accounted for 1,321 yards and 21 touchdowns during
Junior receiver Ryan Gallo, who has caught 24 of Gilbert's 94
passes this year for 558 of the 1,495 yards and five of the 19 touchdowns, has
lost the opportunity to set the College's single-season receiving record. Gallo, who needed 178 yards to break Rich
Swan's (Class of '70) single-season record of 735 set in 1967, injured his knee
on the fifth play of last week's win over Hartwick and is done for the season. Senior placekicker Andrew Ruffo, who has two
PATs and a field goal last week, now has 101 career PATs and 34 career
three-pointers. He is third on Union's
all-time PAT mark and tied for second with Roger Egbert (Class of '97) in
career field goals.
The Yellowjackets are 0-2 since losing the services of
four-year starting quarterback Jeff Piscitelli in the second half of the game
against the University of Chicago. Leading
25-13 with 1:03 left in the third quarter, Piscitelli's career came to an end
when he suffered torn ligaments in his knee.
Since then, Rochester has lost to Washington University, 46-0, and
Carnegie Mellon, 30-20.
Sophomore Pat Fitzsimmons, who is now at the helm of
Rochester's offense, has played in five games and completed 22 of 63 passes for
232 yards and six interceptions. He is
still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season. Running backs John Breedy (390 yards and
four touchdowns) and Gerard Hopkins (236 yards and four scores) lead a ground
game that is averaging 150 yards and has produced 13 touchdowns. Brian Ferris has caught 28 passes for 516
yards and one touchdown while Pat Roman has 18 catches for 279 yards and two
scores. Anthony Yandek has also been a key target with 21 receptions for 272
Middle linebacker Brian Kowalski leads the defense with 92
tackles. The unit has given up an
average of 174 rushing yards (and 15 touchdowns) and 190 passing yards and 11
UNION NEXT WEEK
The Dutchmen will close out the regular season at home against
Springfield at 1 p.m. They will honor
the members of the senior class in pre-game ceremonies beginning at 12:30.