After a rough start to the season, the Yellowjacket football team was able to bounce back and defeat the Union College Dutchmen in Schenectady, N.Y. in a key Liberty League match-up. Following a quarterback controversy in week three, freshman quarterback Braezen Subick won the starting job and led the ‘Jackets to a thrilling 29-25 victory. Subick had a breakout performance and finished the day 28-38 for 281 yards and three touchdowns.
‘He was really impressive,” senior offensive lineman Mike Bell said. ‘He stayed in the pocket and gave our athletes a chance to make big plays, which we capitalized on.”
The Yellowjackets, who are 1-2, played an impressive game against Union, who has always proven to be a formidable Liberty League opponent. At the outset of the game, Union won the coin flip and deferred, electing to kick the ball off. The ensuing possessions for each team were battles for field position, in which neither team was able to produce much offensively. Finally, Union took possession of the ball at their own 48-yard line. Union quickly scored a touchdown in just two plays, but the Dutchmen’s weak kicking game failed to convert the extra-point attempt.
UR was not deterred and came out on the next drive ready to score. A 43-yard kick return by senior wide receiver Mike Sondericker gave the ‘Jackets’ offense excellent starting field position for the drive. The following seven-play, 45-yard drive was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Pedro Sosa.
The 6-foot-2-inch 235-pound junior tight-end was Subick’s favorite target for the day, finishing the game with a career-high 11 receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore kicker Zach White-Stellato’s extra point attempt was good, giving the ‘Jackets a 7-6 lead. On the following drive, Stellato’s leg once again proved to be a valuable asset, capping off a 10-play, 53-yard drive with a 39-yard field goal to give the ‘Jackets a 10-6 lead.
Union quickly answered with another touchdown, but once again missed the extra point giving them a 12-10 lead with a little over seven minutes to play in the first half. On the ensuing kickoff, the Dutchmen kicked deep into UR territory, right into the hands of the electrifying kick-return duo of Sondericker and freshman running back Nick Fedorka. Fedorka fielded the ball at UR’s 15-yard line and didn’t stop until he was in the opponent’s end zone.
‘Everything was set up perfectly,” Sondericker said. ‘The wedge was set, and I saw the opening and before I knew it, we had a perfect lane to the end zone.”
The 85-yard kick return was a pivotal point in the game, but UR missed the extra point and went into halftime with a 16-12 lead.
Union received the ball to begin the third quarter, but they were unable to mount an offensive attack and were forced to punt. After a few exchanges of field position, a downed punt deep in UR territory gave the ‘Jackets possession on their own 8-yard line.
Subick put together a beautifully engineered drive, taking the offense the length of the field. The drive consisted of 14 plays and included an effective mix of the running and passing attack. The drive was capped by a 15-yard Subick strike to junior wide receiver Elvis Njoku in the end zone, giving UR the lead, 22-12, heading into the final quarter.
Union answered halfway through the fourth quarter with a quick 80-yard touchdown drive that closed the gap to four, with UR still in the lead, 22-18. After another scoreless offensive series, UR punted and gave Union possession with only 3:13 left to play in the game.
Union drove the length of the field in only three plays, putting together back-to-back 80-yard touchdown drives and giving it the lead, 25-22, with only 2:33 left on the clock.
On the ‘Jackets’ final possession, the young quarterback showed his to ability to lead the offense, staying calm and collected in the two-minute drill. Once again, Subick directed the UR offense to a touchdown, finding Sosa in the end zone for his second touchdown of the day.
‘We knew we had to get down the field as quickly and effectively as possible,” Sondericker said. ‘When Pedro caught that pass in the end zone, the whole sideline was going nuts. It was awesome.”
Sosa’s second touchdown of the day gave UR the lead and ultimately the victory, as Union was unable to counter, as the defense stepped up.
It was the first time the Yellowjackets have beaten Union in 10 years, ending a nine-game losing streak to the Dutchmen. Additionally, it was the first time since 1987 that UR has gone to Schenectady, N.Y. and come away victorious.
Subick was named Liberty League Rookie of the Week for his outstanding performance against the Dutchmen.
The ‘Jackets are back at home next Saturday afternoon, taking on defending Liberty League Champion Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in another key Liberty-League match-up at noon in Fauver Stadium. Last year, UR upset RPI 25-21 in one of its final games of the regular season.
Horowitz is a member of the class of 2009.