They did it, continuing to make history, Utica College defeated Wilkes University last weekend 24-10 to start this magical season 4-0. The top scoring offense in tha nation may not have put up the big numbers to get the win, but 17 third quarter points was enough to get the W.
Days before the game, I had an e-mail conversation with Head Coach, Blaise Faggiano. Coach stated simply:
"Josh, we are pleased with the start of the 2010 season. We feel that with our coaching staff, players, and administrative support that at Utica College we can win an Empire 8 championship, that we can be a post-season team year in and year out. The Empire 8 is one of the premier Division III conferences in the country. It is critical that we go 4-0 into our conference play. Wilkes is a strong MAC opponent. Fear the Moose…"
Team leader, Andrew Benkwitt (sophomore), who is well on his way to becoming a household name in the Empire 8 threw for 239 yards and another 3 touchdowns in the game (1207 yards and 13 TD's on the season). The first of those three scores being an 11 yard strike to Joshua Mason (junior) for his third TD of the season. Benkwitt has been absolutely phenomenal distributing the ball evenly to his teammates.
Although the Utica offense has been electric and the talk of the town, let's not forget that powerful linebacking corps, spear headed by Utica Alum, Will Pluff's positional coaching ability (Pluff is a former team captain who ranks ninth all-time in tackles). Senior linebackers Travis Ladd and Kevin Hennion both tallied six tackles each and stood strong as a defense in the second half to take away the victory.
Utica College is taking that 4-0 start right into the first night game in UC history against #24 St. John Fisher College this weekend. The lights will be on this Saturday at 7 PM in Charles A. Gaetano Stadium. If you're going to the game, make sure you bring your Orange to support the Pioneers.
When asked about the preparation for the night game against a ranked opponent, Coach Faggiano was very composed and focused on the task at hand:
"Ithaca college came into Gaetano Stadium ranked in the top 25 in the nation in 2009. At half-time they were down 24-14. We did lose the game 27-24 but we played hard. This is 2010 and we are a different football team.
We will practice on Friday Night Under the lights. To get used to catching punts/Kickoffs/passes etc.
I have coached many night games, our game vs. Fisher in 2009 was also under the lights. We have played well vs. Fisher the past two season into the fourth quarter. In regards to Fisher they are by far the best team we have played. I can confidently say that we are the best team they have played to date as well.
This is a game you don’t want to miss."
A very big thankyou goes out to Coach Faggiano for being gracious enough to contribute so much this season as well as Christopher Penree for providing the amazing pictures of the Utica College Pioneers. You can buy Utica College Pioneer Photo's from Christopher Penree at Green Couch Studios. And don't forget, if you're interested in attending Utica College and playing for a great program, fill out a Utica College Football Recruiting Form.