The St. Lawrence University football team earned a 30-20 victory over Union College in Schenectady, NY on Saturday, improving to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Liberty League standings. The Saints' defense forced four turnovers, while the special teams blocked a field goal that led to a touchdown in a come-from-behind effort that gave the visitors only their second win in the last 18 meetings against Union.
Despite being outgained offensively 411-266, the Saints made the clutch plays down the stretch and rallied from a 20-13 deficit thanks to the defense shutting out the Dutchmen (0-3) in the second half. Andrew Cox and captain Shane Hart each led the Saints with nine tackles, while Cox added two fumble recoveries. Rookie Alec Dietsch made an interception and rookie Chyron Brown-Wallace blocked a 43-yard field goal try that was returned for a touchdown by Connor O'Brien.
"I'm very proud of our guys. We played extremely hard and got major contribution from all three phases of the game," said St. Lawrence head coach Mark Raymond. "We made big plays in critical moments of the game which enabled us to win. I can't say enough about the effort."
Mike Lefflbine was 15-of-23 passing for the Saints for 125 yards, with current tight end and former QB Nik Busharis completing both of his pass attempts for touchdowns. Connor Eck was 13-of-31 passing for 148 yards and an interception for Union, which used a dominant attack on the ground to pile up impressive yardage numbers. Darnel Thomas had nine carries for 122 yards, while both Eck and T.J. Franzese went over 70 yards on the ground. Maurice Irby led St. Lawrence with 54 yards and a touchdown rushing.
St. Lawrence took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a pair of fumbles by Eck. After the Union quarterback lost the ball at his own 33, the Saints completed a 4th-and-2 pass from Busharis to senior Mike Tateosian for a 25-yard score with 8:42 to play in the first. Eck would again fumble on the ensuing drive, this time at the St. Lawrence 41, leading to another Saints' touchdown. This time, Busharis found Colby Johnson for a 30-yard strike with 3:57 to play in the opening frame. Collin Shapiro converted on the first point after try, but had the second blocked.
Union answered in the final minute of the quarter, as they went 55 yards in 10 plays, with Franzese rushing the ball scross the goal line from 12-yards out. David Pope's extra point try was good for a 13-7 St. Lawrence lead after one.
On the first play of the second quarter, the momentum continued to shift as Lefflbine fumbled at his own 17, and Union's Jake Lebowitz made him pay by scooping up the ball and taking it to the end zone to tie the score at 13-13. However, Pope's kick was blocked as well keeping the game tied with only :06 seconds into the second quarter.
After the Saints failed to pick up a first down, Union took over at its own 24-yard line. Two plays later, thanks to a 57-yard run by Thomas, they were at the Saints 5-yard marker and Thomas finished the drive with a touchdown rush to give the Dutchmen their first lead, 19-13. Pope's extra point try was good for the 20-13 lead.
Union had two more quality scoring chances in the quarter, but came away empty, allowing the Saints to stay within striking distance. Eck was stopped a yard short on a 4th-and-4 at the SLU 23, and then later fumbled at the same yardage marker on the final Dutchmen drive of the half on 1st down.
St. Lawrence got the spark it needed on Union's opening drive of the second half. After the Dutchmen marched deep into Saints' territory, a 16-yard sack by Brown-Wallace and Sean Gretz forced Pope to try a 43-yard field goal. This time, Brown-Wallace got his hand up and blocked the kick and O'Brien recovered the ball and raced down the right sidelines with blockers for the special teams touchdown with 4:59 to play in the third. Shapiro added the extra point to cap the quarter's scoring, tying the game at 20-20.
The Saints would regain the lead on a 25-yard rush by Irby on the first play of the fourth quarter. Shapiro's extra point made it 27-20, and Dietsch's interception on the ensuing Union drive gave the visitors possession at the Dutchmen 17-yard line. Though the offense failed to pick up a first down, Shapiro drilled the 27-yard field goal for a 30-20 advantage with 10:40 to play.
Needing points, the home team used a 12-play drive to nearly reach the red zone, but the drive stalled as Eck's 4th down pass to Andrew Baker fell incomplete. St. Lawrence would capitalize, rushing the ball effectively with Irby to burn 4:13 off the game clock before having to punt the ball back to Union. The Dutchmen inherited the ball at their own 20, but failed to score in the final 2:11 of regulation, allowing the Saints to celebrate an impressive road victory.
Tateosian finished with a game-high 83 yards receiving, while Johnson added 80 yards as well. Union's Jake LaRovera had a game-high 10 tackles.
The Saints will return home for the first time in nearly a month next weekend when they host the University of Rochester at Leckonby Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:00pm on Saturday, October 5th.