When the LIU Post football team defeated Clarion on Saturday, it won its opening game of the season for the first time since 200n. Head Coach Bryan Collins admitted that over the last few years the Pioneers have struggled out of the gate in the first month of the season, but the team has still managed to finish with winning records for the last past three years. However, you would have no idea about the past slow starts after the performance the Pioneers displayed.
The Pioneers annihilated the Golden Eagles (1-1) by a score of 46-26, but the score does not truly indicate the complete dominance by the green and gold. At the end of the half, the Pioneers led 39-8 and had forced Clarion’s junior quarterback, Ben Fiscus, to throw three interceptions and lose a fumble.
Many coaches in football believe that to be successful your team must win the turnover battle. The Pioneers not only won the turnover battle, they put on a clinic of how to protect the ball on offense, as well as force mistakes and turnovers on defense. The offense led by sophomore quarter¬back, Steven Laurino, amounted to 375 total yards, and more importantly, no turnovers. at times it seemed as if the Pioneers had an extra five players on the field because Clarion coughed up the ball four times, and Fiscus threw for three interceptions. There was constant pressure in the backfield caused be sophomore defensive lineman, Joseph Thompson, (two sacks), as well as junior linebacker, Rob Bright, (six tackles and an interception).
On the first play, following a fumble recovery by freshman linebacker, Brandon Cheney, the Pioneers put its first points on the board as Laurino fired a 49 yard touch¬down strike to senior wide receiver Ryan Derham. The Golden Eagles tried to answer back, but senior line¬backer Anton Rukaj picked off Fiscus to give the Pioneers the ball again. Fresh¬man tight end Sean Binckes was the beneficiary of the next offensive possession, catching a 10 yard touchdown giving LIU Post a 12-0 lead.
The common theme was that after each mistake by the Golden Eagles, the Pioneers took advantage and put points on the board. The trend continued when junior linebacker, Chris DiIorio, jumped in the passing lane of Fiscus for yet another interception. The Pioneers added to their points off turnovers, as Laurino scampered into the end zone for a 17 yard touchdown to make it 18-0.
Despite being down 18-0, the Golden Eagles drove down the field and scored an adventurous touchdown by sophomore running back, Bobby Thomas. From two yards out, Thomas lost the ball as he was about to cross the goal-line, but he recovered it in the endzone for the touchdown. After a successful two point conversion, the score was 18-8 in favor of the Pioneers.
The Pioneers would respond and catch a break with a serendipitous bounce that would turn out to be a turning point in the game. After Laurino scrambled for a first down, he lost the ball, but luckily for the Pioneers seniordtight end Pat Fitzgerald happened to be in the right place at the right time and returned the ball 59 yards for a touchdown for the Pioneers. Even when the Pioneers made a mistake, a touchdown ended up being the net result.
There was not much action to speak of in the second half. The Golden Eagles did outscore the Pioneers 18-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, but it simply did not matter since the Pioneers led by 31 points after the first half.
For the Pioneers, Laurino completed five of his ten passes for 90 yards and three touch¬downs. On the ground Laurino rushed the ball 18 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Junior running back Jeff Mack had 16 carries for 93 yards and one touchdown. On defense, senior defensive back Antonio Powell- Fields led the team with 12 total tackles. Powell-Fields also made a contribution on special teams recovering an onside-kick.
The 46 points the Pioneers scored was the most points by the team since 2010 when they put up 63 points against Cheyney University. Ironically enough, the Pioneers opponent in Week 2 are the Cheyney Wolves (1-0). The Pioneers have breezed through the Wolves in their last four meetings as the Pioneers have averaged scoring 48 points per game and won by an average 34 points per game. The Pioneers will travel on the road for their next game Saturday, September 15th, against Cheyney. Tune into 88.1 FM or WCWP.org to hear all the cover¬age for the game. Pregame starts at 12:30 p.m. and kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.