By Michael Otero
Thanks to a relentless ground game and an effective performance from the defensive unit, the Pioneers won a fifth straight game and toppled no. 15-ranked Assumption College on Saturday, Oct. 1, in an NE-10 tilt from Worcester, Mass.
The Pioneers struck first when last week’s hero, sophomore kicker Joey Tolgyesi, nailed a 40-yard field goal to put the Pioneers on the board. Tolgyesi was called on again in the second quarter to convert another kick, this time five yards further out. Same result. The Pioneers, although disappointed with settling for field goals, held a 6-0 lead at the 13-minute mark in the second quarter.
The Pioneer lead disappeared quickly though, as the Greyhounds took the lead on a 36-yard touchdown on a drive that started with a short field. After going up 7-6, the hosts added a trifecta to make it 10-6 with four minutes and change left on the clock before halftime.
The Pioneers, who struggled to move the ball into the red-zone up to that point, put together one of their best drives of the day and it was led by Malik Pierre who scored the go-ahead touchdown on the aforementioned drive. The sophomore running back rushed for 30 yards and also corralled a pass for 26 yards to set himself up for the one-yard score; making it 12-10 in favor of the Pioneers.
After a scoreless third quarter, 15 minutes would decide a winner. The Greyhounds made the first move and went ahead on an eight-yard touchdown pass, and took an 18-12 lead courtesy of a successful two-point conversation.
With nine minutes left and a six-point hole, the Pioneer offense went to work. Senior halfback David White was an integral part of the drive, participating on six of the first seven plays and picking up key first downs in the process. On a critical fourth down and two, senior quarterback Jeff Kidd took it upon himself and picked up 17 yards to get to the Assumption six-yard line. Two plays later, redshirt sophomore receiver Michael Hartgrove took the handoff and found the end zone for the go-ahead score.
Although the Pioneers left five minutes plus on the clock, the Greyhounds managed little on the Pioneer defense, which stepped up big time all day. The defense forced nine punts, which gave the offense short fields and also forced four turnovers. Redshirt junior defensive back Jared Chester had a team-high 11 tackles and an interception, while redshirt defensive lineman Jess Agbotse amassed seven tackles and disrupted two passes.
Kidd finished 21-40 for 191 yards with no touchdowns and no picks while also accumulating 64 yards on the ground. Pierre was a dual-threat, rushing for 62 yards and a score and also leading the team in receiving with 67 yards.
The Pioneers’ 19-18 victory is the fifth straight, and three of their next four games are at home. Head Coach Bryan Collins and his team return to Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium when they host Saint Anselm College for Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 8. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.