Springfield, Mass. - October 5, 2013 - The Springfield College football team dropped its second-straight game of the season, 27-7 against Union on Saturday, on Family and Friends Weekend in front of 3,500 fans at Stagg Field.
It was the first win of the season for the Dutchmen, who are now 1-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play. Springfield drops to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the Liberty League.
Time of possession was drastically in favor of Union, as the Dutchmen had the ball for 43:02 while the Springfield offense was on the field for just 16:58. For the game, Union had 481 total yards of offense in the game, on 85 plays, compared to just 85 yards of offense for the Pride on 38 plays.
Springfield, which entered the game as the top rushing team in Division III with 393 yards per game, was held to just 85 yards on 32 carries.
Springfield’s special teams unit came out strong on the first play of the game. After Union won the toss and elected to receive, Jason Pineda (Weehawken, N.J.) forced a fumble which was recovered by Brian Crosby (North Easton, Mass.) on the Union 45 yard line.
The Springfield offense could not find its rhythm, gaining just four yards on the drive that resulted in Union taking over on downs. All told, Springfield was 1-of-11 on third down conversions in the game.
Union had the ball for 10 minutes in the first quarter, but the Pride defense held the Dutchmen to just a 29-yard field goal by Dan Pope (Beverly, Mass.) at 7:49.
The visitors struck again early in the second quarter. On a key 3rd and 4, Union quarterback Connor Eck (Rye, N.Y.) completed a pass to Ryan Shilling (Carmel, N.Y.), good for 22 yards and a first down. Eck found Shilling again on 2nd and 7 in the middle of the field, and the receiver ran 38 yards for a touchdown, giving Union an early 10-0 lead with 12:59 left in the first half.
Springfield's special teams came through again for the Pride's only touchdown of the game just over four minutes later. After the Dutchmen were faced with a 3rd and 10, Eck completed a 27 yard pass to Matt Meile (Ramsey, N.J.), only to have it called back for an illegal forward pass. On the ensuing punt, Springfield’s Corey Kaiser (River Vale, N.J.) was one of three players to break through the line and sprawled out to block the kick. Mike Varvara (Hopewell Junction, N.J.) picked up the bouncing ball for a 22 yard return to put the Pride on the scoreboard. John Meehan (Barrington, R.I.) kicked the extra point to make it a 10-7 game.
Union answered back as Pope kicked his second field goal of the game, this one good for 26 yards, with 5:40 on the clock. Despite the Pride having the ball for just 8:24 in first half, it was a one-score game at halftime.
The Dutchmen added to their lead 3:09 into the second half on a two-yard plunge by T.J. Franzese (Allendale, N.J.). The score was set up by a short screen pass to Darnel Thomas (West Caldwell, N.J.) that resulted in 76 yards.
Things looked to be turning around for Springfield, as the Pride defense made a huge play with 1:24 left in the third quarter. Eck made a pass in the middle of the field that was picked off by Jared Rivera (Hazlet, N.J.) on third down. Springfield made five plays for 30 yards on the drive, but the Union defense forced the Pride to punt, holding a 20-7 lead to start the fourth quarter.
Union scored once more in the fourth on an 11 play drive that chewed up 6:40 off the clock. Eck rushed one yard in on a naked bootleg for the score with 8:12 left in the game. Pope’s kick was good for a 27-7 Union lead.
Eck finished the afternoon going 20-for-34 for 320 yards and a score in the air, while rushing for 42 yards and adding another touchdown on the ground. Franzese totaled 83 yards and a touchdown, while Tosin Kazeem (Short Hills, N.J.) snagged six balls for 103 yards. Defensively, Thomas Hayes (East Rutherford, N.J.) made eight stop and forced a fumble, while Tyler Valenti (Southbury, Conn.) added seven stops, including two for loss.
Brian Kelly (Closter, N.J.) finished the game with 10 stops for the Pride, and Sam Weiss (Glasser, N.J.) notched eight tackles. Joel Altavesta (Tewksbury, Mass.) had a team-best 53 yards on the ground. Springfield's quarterback Jonathan Marrero (Boston, Mass.), who entered the game ranked second in the country in rushing, was limited to just 12 yards on the day.
Springfield will look to get back on track next week, hosting conference rival Hobart at noon. Union will be back at home, hosting Worcester Polytechnic Institute for a 1:30 kickoff.