Football legend Vince Lombardi once said after his Green Bay Packers dropped a loss “we didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time.” The Yellowjackets ran out of time Saturday afternoon, rallying for 21 points after a dismal 31-0 halftime blowout but ultimately falling short of catching up with the Union College Dutchmen. “We played a good second half, but we put ourselves in a hole too deep to dig out from. We made some critical errors in the first half that cost us the game,” UR head coach Mark Kreydt said.
Things did indeed look grim for the Yellowjackets as time expired in the first half of play. UR turned over the ball five times in the first two quarters, providing ample opportunity for the Dutchmen to capitalize and score points. The Yellowjacket’s offensive scheme is a potent mix of running and passing when executed properly. UR’s offense had stalled, and they were unable to answer Union’s offensive surge of 31 points.
However, just when things looked poised to result in the most demoralizing loss of the season, veteran tailbacks junior Gerald Hopkins and senior John Breedy stepped up to the plate and started a second half rally that put the Yellowjackets toe-to-toe with the Dutchmen.
As the teams took the field for the second half of competition, Hopkins exploded, single-handedly carrying the ball from UR’s own 10-yard line down to the visitor’s 22-yard line. UR freshman quarterback Pat Manuel ran a keeper for a four yard gain, setting up an 18-yard touchdown run by Hopkins. Junior kicker Chris Johnston made the extra point, putting UR on the board 31-7.
The Yellowjackets attempted an onside kick to start things off again, and possession was successfully retained by UR. Union, however, was able to hold the Yellowjackets, forcing UR to punt. The third quarter ended with neither team able to begin a successful drive.
The game clock had dwindled to less than four minutes left in the game before the Yellowjackets kicke started their engines. This time it was Breedy pouring on the fury, assisted by a 24-yard spiral from Manuel to junior wide receiver Brian Ferris. Breedy smashed through the Union line for the final ten yards and a UR touchdown. Johnston’s kick was good, making the score 31-14 with 3:25 remaining on the clock.
With less than two minutes remaining, Union attempted a field goal, but Cliff Eisenhut’s 39-yard try sailed to the right, yielding the Dutchmen no points and returning possession to the home team. Operating in “hurry-up” mode, Manuel hit Ferris for a 14-yard pass, advancing the Yellowjackets to their own 36-yard line. It was a repeat the next play, as Manuel completed an eight yard dart to Ferris, quickly followed by a UR timeout. With no time to spare, Manuel threw a bomb downfield to the reliable Ferris, who caught the pigskin for a 29-yard gain. Gerald Hopkins sprinted for an 8-yard gain to keep the Dutchmen on their toes, but it was back to the air on the next play with a 16-yard pass from Manuel to senior wide receiver Parker Jaques. Manuel finished things off himself, running four yards into the end-zone to cap-off a spectacular 49 second, 78 yard drive.
Although victory was out of sight, the success of the last drive and the unyielding attitude of the players showed the crowd and the opposing team that the Yellowjackets have a lot of heart. “The good news is that we didn’t give up,” Kreydt said. “We tried to fight back, we tried to win, but we ran out of time in the end.
“We’ve proven that we can execute plays against very, very good football teams and we’ve proved that we can go toe-to-toe with excellent programs when we perform to our potential. We need to prove that we can do that on a consistent basis.” Kreydt hopes that his team will be able to perform consistently next week, when they travel to the University of Chicago, as the Yellowjackets will try to improve on their 1-5 record.
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