Union and RPI football break unbeaten records in Saturday matches

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The Union College football team started the season with two resounding victories, followed by a tense victory. RPI picked up two last minute wins and then took a relatively comfortable victory.

Taking different paths at 3-0, the Dutch and Engineers will look to go undefeated on Saturday as they finish off the league game before heading into Liberty League competition next week.

Union, ranked 11th nationally in the Division III coaching poll, will play at 1 p.m. at Utica (3-0). RPI will face St. John Fisher (2-1) at noon at East Campus Stadium. Utica and St. John Fisher are members of the Empire 8 Conference.

“I think we can always improve,” said Union head coach Jeff Behrman. “I think I would have said the same after our ninth game in 2019 (when Union started 9-0). You are always trying to improve yourself. Each week presents different challenges.

The Dutch beat Morrisville State by 34 points and Worcester State by 49 in the first two weeks. Springfield pushed Union much harder last Saturday. Dutch linebacker Colin Lama intercepted a pass in his 33rd with 30 seconds left to preserve a 30-23 win.

“I think the level of competition was definitely very good against Springfield,” Behrman said. “We expected a very good team from Springfield and it was a good competitive game… They obviously made us work for that, for sure. I expect the same this weekend when we go to Utica.

RPI took a two touchdown lead in the first quarter to move towards a 24-10 at WPI last week. It was a change of pace from the first two games, when Engineers quarterback George Marinopoulos of Guilderland threw touchdown passes in the last minute to beat Montclair State and Stevenson.

“Obviously it’s good to have wins, but we have a lot of work to do, a lot to clean up in all three phases,” Engineers head coach Ralph Isernia said. “I think we played a little closer to show that we trained last weekend and that kind of performance showed up in our performance on the pitch. But it’s good to have adjustments when you win matches rather than the alternative.

Isernia said he wanted his team to play a “fuller game” against St. John Fisher to show the Engineers are ready for their league opener against Rochester in Troy next week.

RPI and St. John Fisher haven’t played since November 20, 2010. The Cardinals beat Engineers 56-13 that day in then-RPI head coach Joe King’s last game. , who retired after the season.

“They will always be among the leaders of Empire 8,” Isernia said. “Over the years, Liberty League-Empire 8 has always been a big rivalry. It’s a great physical team. They have talented players who can go the distance, a quarterback (Michael Krafty) who is a double threat.

The Union is “very unlikely” to have US running back Ike Irabor available against Utica, Behrman said. Irabor had his last second quarter deferral against Springfield.

“Honestly, he just collapsed,” said Behrman, who “is hoping” wide receiver Andre Ross Jr. will play after missing the Springfield game with a leg injury.

The Dutch have a competent substitute for Irabor with sophomore Michael Fiore, who rushed for 110 yards and a score against Springfield.


An undefeated victory over Utica could push Union into the Top 10 for its first championship game at Buffalo State next week. But Berhman said he’s not thinking about the rankings.

“Honestly, I didn’t even realize what we were,” he said. “It’s an honor to be recognized like that, but in the end, it doesn’t change the way you prepare week after week. Of course, I never talk to the team about it.


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