By Thomas Scavetta
Trailing 31-21 in the fourth quarter, the football team (7-3) scored 14 unanswered points on Saturday, Nov. 8, to storm back and defeat Bentley University (4-6) on Senior Day, 35-31, at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium in Brookville, N.Y.
On their opening drive of the final quarter, LIU Post started at their own five-yard line. Bentley had complete control after scoring 24 unanswered points. However, red-shirt senior signal-caller Steven Laurino scrambled for five yards on the opening play from scrimmage, followed with 13- and 22-yard completions to red-shirt sophomore wideout Shane Hubbard and red-shirt senior wideout Kamron Palmer. The series resulted in a 16-yard touchdown pass up the seam from Laurino to junior tight end Sean Binckes, making it a 31-28 game.
Two possessions later, Laurino anchored another offensive assault. After starting at their own 47-yard line, Laurino completed four consecutive passes to set up shop at the Falcon seven-yard line. A few snaps later, the Boise native took a three-yard keeper into the end zone at the 2:41 mark to regain the lead for the hosts, 35-31.
With 2:34 remaining on the clock, Bentley looked to spoil the Pioneers’ rally. Graduate quarterback Danny Guadagnoli methodically drove his squad down to the LIU 25- yard line. Following back-to- back misfires through the air, Guadagnoli hooked up with Jet Kollie on a seven-yard strike to make it fourth-and-three. With only 16 seconds left and the game on the line, the Pioneers defense got one final stop as sophomore defensive lineman Kenny Scotland channeled his inner J.J. Watt and swatted away the fourth-down pass to secure the victory.
The Green and Gold got out to a hot start, as they scored on their opening series of the game. Laurino scrambled for a two-yard score at the 8:11 mark. In the early stages of the second quarter, the Pioneers capitalized off a Falcon turnover as Laurino hooked up with sophomore tailback David White on an 8-yard touchdown pass.
Heading into halftime, LIU Post held a 21-14 advantage. However, the third quarter belonged to the visitors as they gained their first lead after putting up 24 unanswered points.
That set the stage for another Pioneer comeback and Laurino’s late-game heroics. Laurino finished 34-of-48 for 363 yards and three touchdown passes. The fifth-year senior also ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Hubbard and Palmer each caught eight passes and accumulated over 90 yards receiving. Red-shirt senior wideout Chris McGrane had a stellar outing, catching seven balls for 92 yards. Binckes recorded five receptions for 45 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Pioneers defense saw red-shirt senior linebacker Anthony Brunetti lead the defense with 13 tackles, while red-shirt senior defensive lineman Dan Belfiore had nine tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Red-shirt sophomore defensive back Justin Ortiz chipped in with six stops and two pass break-ups.
The Pioneers earned the right to play for the NE-10 championship on Saturday, Nov. 15. LIU will make the trip up to Springfield, Massachusetts for a re-match with American International. In their regular season, the Green and Gold were defeated by the Yellow Jackets 27-24. The Pioneers will be searching for their first NE-10 title since 2006. Kickoff is set for 1p.m.