By Thomas Scavetta
On Saturday, Oct. 25, the football team (5-3) suffered a nail-biting 27-24 defeat at the hands of Northeast-10 Conference rival American International in a battle for first place at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets (6-2) struck first on a 17-yard touchdown pass via senior quarterback Kevin Arduino to senior wide-out Stephan Davis with 2:40 remaining in the opening period. AIC took advantage of a fumble on the Pioneer 22-yard line and just three plays later, Arduino connected with Davis for seven points.
In the second period, the Green and Gold managed to reduce the gap to 7-3. However, the Yellow Jackets pieced together a quick three-play drive resulting in a touchdown, putting the visitors up 14-3 at halftime. Arduino hooked up with senior wide out Maurice Easterling on a 69-yard pass at the one-minute mark.
During the third quarter, the Pioneers scored a touchdown on their third possession to cut the deficit to four points. Red-shirt senior quarterback Steven Laurino staged an eight-play, 34-yard drive that resulted in a five-yard scramble into the end zone.
The contest was ultimately decided in the fourth quarter. After AIC missed an extra-point attempt, LIU Post put up 14 unanswered points to grab its first lead of the game at 24-20. Laurino first tossed a 23-yard touchdown strike to red-shirt sophomore wide receiver Shane Hubbard with 5:35 left. That made the score 20-17.
On the Yellow Jackets’ following possession, Arduino drove his team into Pioneer territory, but red-shirt senior linebacker Anthony Brunetti picked him off at the LIU 32-yard line, and subsequently returned the interception to the AIC 31. On the ensuing snap, LIU Post ran an end-around to red-shirt freshman receiver James Higgins and he fired a 37-yard pass to a wide-open Laurino for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Yellow Jackets answered immediately as Arduino led his team down to the Pioneer four-yard line. Shortly thereafter, on a fourth-and-one, Arduino got a push over the goal line to put the visitors back ahead. The Pioneers kept battling back, as Laurino completed three straight passes to set up the hosts in field goal range. Senior kicker Karsten Viste missed a 41-yard try as time expired.
The Boise-native finished the game 32-of-51, passing for 353 yards and a touchdown. Hubbard hauled in nine receptions for a team-leading 123 yards and a score while junior tight end Sean Binckes caught seven balls for 75 yards. Defensively, Brunetti led the Green and Gold with eight tackles. Red-shirt junior linebacker Brandon Cheney recorded seven tackles and junior defensive back Jahleel Oswald had six stops.
Head Coach Bryan Collins and the Pioneers return to action on Saturday, Nov. 1 when they travel to New Haven, Conn., for a matinee showdown against NE-10 rival Southern Connecticut State. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m.