By Michael Otero
After dominating Pace University in its regular-season home finale and climbing to its highest national ranking in program history, the no. 10-ranked football team solidified its place as one of the best teams in Division II with a 64-7 throttling of Merrimack College on Saturday, Nov. 5, in North Andover, Mass. The win improves the Pioneers to a perfect 10-0 record, a first since the 2002 season.
Coming back from a knee injury, senior Jeff Kidd led the Pioneers at quarterback, completing 21-of-30 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He was eventually relieved by redshirt sophomore quarterback, Michael Campbell, who wasn’t too shabby himself, throwing for 74 yards on only six attempts and two scores.
The Pioneer’s offense got going early and often. In the first quarter, separate Pioneer drives were capped off by senior halfback, David White, who ran in from 15 yards out and redshirt junior receiver, Kyle Ward, who scored on a 12 yard pass from Kidd.
In the second quarter, redshirt sophomore running back, the second of the two-headed backfield monster, found the endzone from three yards out to make it 21-0 in favor of the Green and Gold. A few possessions later, the Pioneers went up four touchdowns on connection from Kidd to redshirt senior pass catcher, Shane Hubbard. At the halftime horn, the Pioneers led 31-0.
The Pioneers apparently were not satisfied with a 31 point advantage and in the second half, they changed that in just two plays. Redshirt sophomore defensive back, Kasim Thomas, read the eyes of the opposing quarterback, picked off the pass and took it back 18 yards for a pick-six.
Campbell subbed in under center for a majority of the second half and threw touchdown passes to redshirt junior receiver, Tyler Collins, and redshirt sophomore receiver, Michael Hartgrove. The final Pioneer points came via freshman tailback, Tim Marinan, who scampered 18 yards for six, making it 64-0 at that point in the fourth quarter. A Merrimack touchdown with a minute left spoiled the Pioneer shutout, but nonetheless, the Pioneers dominated seemingly every facet of the game.
The Pioneer’s rushing attack totaled 194 yards from nine contributors. In the receiving department, Hubbard went for six catches, 84 yards and a touchdown while Higgins also had six catches for 56 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Pioneers had four interceptions on the day, two of which went to freshman defensive back Joshua Flowers. Redshirt freshman linebacker, Conor Haverty, had four tackles and a forced fumble in the victory as well.
The Pioneers, led by Head Coach Bryan Collins, will play host to No. 15 ranked Assumption College in the NE- 10 Conference Championship on Saturday, Nov. 12. In their matchup earlier this season, the Pioneers came out victorious 19-18 in large part thanks to a running game that went for 185 yards and a defense that forced three turnovers. Kickoff from Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium is set for noon. The game can also be seen on ESPN3.