By Thomas Scavetta
On Saturday, Oct. 4, after trailing 7-3 late in the first quarter, the Pioneers (3-2) scored 34 unanswered points to take a commanding 37-7 lead heading into halftime. The Pace University Setters (0-5) stormed back in the second half and cut the lead down to eight, but the Green and Gold were able to hold off the late game rally and round out their three-game road trip with a 44-36 win against their NE-10 rival from Ossining, N.Y.
The Pioneers began their scoring outburst with back-to-back three-play drives. Just a minute after the hosts took a 7-3 lead, red-shirt senior quarterback Steven Laurino hooked up with sophomore tailback David White for a 70- yard score giving the visitors a 10-7 edge. On the following drive, Laurino fired an 86-yard bomb to red-shirt senior wideout Kamron Palmer, giving the Pioneers a 17-7 lead. Just nine seconds later, red-shirt senior linebacker Anthony Brunetti forced a turnover stripping junior tailback Valentino Miles of the ball, and senior defensive back Roger Hamilton took it to the house from 21 yards out. The offense continued to dominate as Laurino added a 5-yard touchdown, which was bookended by a pair of field goals to put the Pioneers up 37-7 at intermission.
Halfway through the third quarter, the Pioneers led 44-14, setting the stage for the Setters comeback. Freshman quarterback Steven Demeo threw touchdown passes to junior wideout Kyle Johnson and sophomore running back Delaney Wallace to narrow the gap to 44-28. With seven and a half minutes to go in the final quarter, an interception by senior defensive back Joe Roman off red-shirt sophomore quarterback Matt Brennan turned into seven points and brought the Setters within eight. Demeo anchored a 9-play, 61- yard drive resulting in a three-yard score by Miles. Demeo connected with junior tight end Luiz Ribiero on a two-point conversion attempt, making it a one-score contest at 44-36.
LIU Post utilized their stellar running game to secure the victory for the second straight week. Laurino picked up a couple of crucial first downs with his feet to move the chains and seal the win for the Pioneers. “This win was a huge momentum builder, and we’re in a good situation where we can start stringing wins together. Seasons are built upon momentum and so are games. I’m always asking myself what play can I make to spark momentum,” Laurino said.
Laurino finished 8-of-14 for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He also racked up 62 yards on the ground with a score. White had the game-high with 112 yards on 14 carries. “I have a lot of game experience as a four-year starter, which helps me take a lot of control over the game,” Laurino said. “Bybeingadualthreat,Ihaveabetteradvantage of getting first downs in 3rd-and-long and scenarios when the defense has everyone covered. The hard thing is not using your feet when you don’t need them,” Laurino added. Being currently seated in third place, Laurino believes that the Pioneers have a real good chance to win the NE-10 and they have yet to play the top two teams in the conference.
On defense, Brunetti led the squad with 12 tackles, four that came from a loss, and he forced a fumble. Hamilton recorded 10 stops to add to his fumble recovery for a touchdown. Red-shirt senior defensive lineman Dan Belfiore had nine stops and a sack. Red-shirt junior linebacker Brandon Cheney and freshman linebacker Matt Grassa chipped in with eight tackles a-piece.
Head Coach Bryan Collins and the team return to action on Oct. 11, when they open up a three-game homestand against NE-10 rival Stonehill College. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.