Most exciting Shoes game?
In my 27 years of covering the annual Union-RPI Dutchman's Shoes Trophy game, I don't think I ever witnessed a more exciting finish than what happened this afternoon at East Campus Village Stadium in Troy.
Union's 34-28 overtime victory was vintage edge-of-your seat stuff.
First of all, I thought Union had the game won in regulation after the Dutchmen held a 28-20 lead with four minutes to go. But like the New York Giants did with the Dallas Cowboys a few weeks ago, Union's defense suddenly went soft, and RPI quarterback Mike Hermann took full advantage, connecting on three first downs and several big passes to help the Engineers not only score a touchdown, but also connect for the two-point conversion, sending the game into overtime.
At least two of those key passes were to receivers completely uncovered. What a mistake!!!
But in overtime, Union's fortunes were reversed. RPI kicker Andrew Franks, who earlier kicked a school-record 50-yard field goal, misfired on a field goal to give Union a shot.
Union's offense struggled, however, and with a 4th-and-17 situation from the RPI 31-yard line, it appeared the Dutchmen were going to send the game into a second OT.
That's when the sophomore connection of QB Connor Eck and wideout Kyle Reynolds got into the act. Eck rolled left and avoided a blitz before tossing the ball to the far sidelines to his favorite target Reynolds, who outjumped an RPI defender at the seven-yard line and ran into the end zone for the final score.
It was the first overtime session in the 110-year history of the rivalry. Of course, overtimes are a modern invention. There have been four ties in the rivalry over the years.
What a game.
Eck put it all in focus when I interviewed him afterward.
"Wow," he said.
I second the motion.