By Thomas Scavetta
On Saturday, Nov. 1, the football team (6- 3) cruised to a 28-3 victory against Northeast-10 Conference foe Southern Connecticut State (2-7) at Jess Dow Field in New Haven, Conn. The Pioneers are now one win away from clinching a spot in the NE-10 Championship game on Nov. 15. American International has already earned the league’s top spot following a 24-21 triumph against Merrimack College on Nov. 1.
After falling behind 3-0 early in the first quarter, the Pioneers grabbed their first lead of the contest with a touchdown at the 2:47 mark. Red- shirt senior quarterback Steven Laurino completed back-to-back passes to red-shirt freshman wideouts Kyle Ward and James Higgins for a crucial first down. The drive was capped off by a 22-yard keeper by Laurino for the score.
One LIU possession later, the Green and Gold converted a fake punt on fourth-and-three. Senior punter Tyler Feely dashed for 13 yards to move the chains to the Owl 28-yard line. On the following snap, Laurino connected with red-shirt senior wideout Kamron Palmer on a 28-yard strike into the end zone to extend LIU’s advantage to 14-3.
The visitors kept the pressure on the Owl defense, as they tacked on another touchdown. Red- shirt freshman running back Michael Million and sophomore running back David White carried the ball for 17-and-11-yard gains to the put the Pioneers back in Owl territory. Laurino then lobbed a jump ball into the end zone that was hauled in by red-shirt sophomore wideout Shane Hubbard. The touchdown gave the Pioneers a 21-3 advantage.
In the latter stanza, the Pioneers built on their 18-point cushion after anchoring a 10-play 82-yard drive resulting in a nine-yard touchdown pass from Laurino to Palmer. The 28-3 lead for the Pioneers held up, and the final touchdown summed up the afternoon for the Green and Gold.
Laurino finished 21-of-36 for 281 yards and three touchdowns. White had 18 rushes for 91 yards, while Palmer caught six passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Hubbard had four receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown, as well.
Defensively, red-shirt senior linebacker Anthony Brunetti and red-shirt sophomore defensive back Justin Ortiz led the squad with six tackles apiece. Red-shirt junior linebacker Brandon Cheney totaled five stops. Ortiz and Cheney each tallied a sack as well. As a unit, LIU recorded five sacks and two takeaways in the win.
Head Coach Bryan Collins and the Pioneers wrap up the 2014 regular season on Saturday, Nov. 8, when they host Bentley University on Senior Day at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium in Brookville, N.Y. Kickoff is slated for noon.