By Thomas Scavetta
Trailing 25-21 with under a minute remaining, red-shirt senior quarterback Steven Laurino fired the game-winning two-yard touchdown pass to red-shirt sophomore wide receiver Shane Hubbard to seal the football team’s 28-25 come-from-behind victory against the Stonehill College Skyhawks on Saturday, Oct. 11, in Brookville, N.Y.
The game-winning drive began at the Pioneers’ 35-yard line. A crucial pass interference penalty against the visitors put the Green and Gold in excellent field position at the Stonehill 38-yard line with 2:03 left of the game. Laurino completed all four of his passes in that series, resulting in a two-yard lob hauled in by Hubbard for the game-winning score with 22 seconds left. The Boise native also took four keepers for 15 yards. Red-shirt sophomore running back Mike Williams picked up eight yards on a screen pass to set up LIU Post (4-2) at the 7-yard line.
Although the Pioneers trailed the entire first half, they scored a big momentum booster touchdown before halftime. Down by 10 late in the first half, freshman defensive lineman Kevin Petit-Frere strip-sacked sophomore quarterback Tom Sydeski right after the Pioneers committed their second turnover of the contest. Red-shirt senior defensive lineman Dan Belfiore recovered the loose ball at the Skyhawks 20-yard line.
Five plays later, Laurino hooked up with junior tight end Sean Binckes on a three-yard touchdown pass, making it a 10-7 game. Binckes had a star-studded day, catching 11 passes for a team-leading 103 yards. The Skyhawks added a field goal to their lead via junior kicker Steve Grzwacz on their first drive of the second half, making the score 13-7.
However, the Pioneers responded with a vengeance, scoring 14 unanswered points to grab a 21-13 lead with 11:16 remaining in the final frame. The first of the two scores came off a Laurino 20-yard strike to Hubbard on the hosts’ first possession of the half. Two drives later, Laurino staged a stellar 17-play, 85-yard offensive assault leading to his two-yard scramble into the end zone.
The Skyhawks refused to go down without a fight, as they picked up touchdowns on each of their next two possessions to regain the lead 25-21. A six-yard dash by junior tailback Deontae Ramey-Doe put the Skyhawks back on top with 2:50 remaining in regulation.
Laurino then pieced together his fourth game-winning drive of the season, and the Pioneers defense won it from there. With 16 seconds to go, Sydesky had the ball jarred loose by senior defensive lineman David Sumpter. Belfiore recovered his second fumble of the game to put the icing on the cake. The fifth-year senior completed 24-of-41 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns. He added a game-high 90 yards rushing to his stellar outing. Williams had 15 carries for 56 yards while Hubbard hauled in four catches for 42 yards in addition to his two touchdown receptions.
On defense, red-shirt senior linebacker Anthony Brunetti had a team-high 12 takes while red-shirt junior linebacker Brandon Cheney recorded 10 stops. Belfiore and senior defensive back Roger Hamilton collected six tackles apiece.
Head Coach Bryan Collins and the Pioneers return to action next Saturday, Oct. 18, when they host the Hawks from Saint Anselm College at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium for Homecoming. The Northeast-10 Conference clash between the second-place teams is slated to begin at 1 p.m.