By Thomas Scavetta
Assistant Sports Editor
After a first half filled with turnovers and miscues, the football team (4-2) turned the engines on and erupted with 20 unanswered points to open up the second half as they edged out Northeast-10 Conference foe, Merrimack College (2-4), 27-24, on Saturday, Oct. 10, at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium.
Trailing 3-0 coming out of the break, junior quarterback Jeff Kidd and the Pioneers anchored a 10-play drive, resulting in their first points of the contest as he hooked up with red-shirt sophomore wide-out Kyle Ward for a 21-yard touchdown.
Things continued to pick up when junior defensive back Clarence Sears intercepted a pass off of Merrimack quarterback Nick Davis. LIU would keep the wheels rolling as Kidd connected with junior running back David White for a five-yard score, giving the hosts a 13-3 lead.
Shortly thereafter, red-shirt freshman running back Malik Pierre, found the end-zone once again for the Green and Gold on a 29-yard rush, extending the Pioneers advantage to 20-3 with 5:12 remaining in the third quarter.
However, the Warriors refused to go down without a fight, and made it a 20-17 game with 12:26 left in the contest. As the tides seemed to be turning, LIU struggled offensively, but came up with two critical third down conversions on the following possession to senior tight end Sean Binckes and red-shirt sophomore wide receiver James Higgins. Kidd and the offense finished the job as Hubbard caught a 20-yard touchdown at the 7:41 mark.
With just under four minutes to go, Merrimack scored again, narrowing LIU’s cushion to just three points. The Pioneer defense was clutch on the final two drives though, putting any comeback hopes to bed. Merrimack kicker Stephen Camarro missed the potential game-tying 51-yard field goal as time expired. Even with red-shirt senior linebacker Brandon Cheney sidelined due to an injury suffered earlier on in the game, other players stepped up and held their ground.
Red-shirt junior defensive lineman Kenny Scotland was a nuisance for Merrimack quarterback Nick Davis, recording two sacks and a pass deflection to go with his four tackles. Red-shirt junior line-backer Wayne Harris also looked sharp making 10 stops and one sack. Cheney collected eight tackles before leaving the game. Although Kidd’s struggles continued, the ground attack was strong as Pierre rushed for 97 yards on 20 carries.
With their third conference win under their belt, the Pioneers, led by Head Coach Bryan Collins, will travel to Pleasantville, N.Y. on Saturday, Oct. 17, to take on NE-10 rival Pace University. Kickoff is slated for noon.