The Utica College Pioneers moved to 5-1 after beting St. Lawrence 31-13 last weekend. The Pioneers have never gotten out to a 5-1 start and also have capped off their most wins in a 6-4 season in 2005. This season has made a lot of "firsts" in Utica College history.
This was the first time that Utica beat St. Lawrence in the three contests they have shared. After the game, going into the week, it was the first time that Utica College had received votes to be ranked as one of the top 20 teams in the East in the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Divison III Football Poll.
The Pioneers air assault continues to be prevalent as Andrew Benkwitt (sophomore) completed 24 of 38 passes for 308 of the teams 443 total yards and three passing touchdowns. That being said, another game of 100+ team rushing yards evens the Pioneers game up a bit as Jake Scott (sophomore) led the team with 67 yards on 17 carries (3.9 YPC) and his team leading tenth touchdown of the season. The Pioneers never played from behind during this game and their final touchdown came late in the third quarter on a 45 yard pass from Benkwitt to Jeremy Meier (junior) who ended the day with 9 catches for 117 yards and the score. Meier and Joshua Mason (junior) who had six catches for 124 yards, have both been extremely reliable with Anthony Acevedo missing some time due to injuries.
The Utica Defense also held their own while allowing 332 yards on 64 plays. Travis Ladd (senior) led his defense with 10 tackles in the contest. Tracy Branch (senior) and James Brain (sophomore) each added two sacks in the game. Branch, tying the school record with 14.5 career sacks. Genaro Scampone (sophomore) also had a good game with 8 total tackles. The turnover savvy Pioneer defense only had one takeaway this game on an interception by Kody Parkhurst (sophomore).
Playing For More Than Pride
The young Pioneers took their 5-1 record to Springfield College this weekend where I gott out there to see them live in action. The game was an extremely great matchup on paper and it was very important for the Pioneers to take a win away from Springfield in Empire 8 conference play. It was great to see these two polar opposite teams battle it out with Andrew Benkwitt firing the ball around compared to the triple option ground game that Springfield has become famous for.
The Utica defense was able to hold Springfield to 100 yards less on the ground than their per game season average, but it just wasn't enough to get the win in such a close loss to the Pride, 20-16. The Pioneers has multiple opportunities to take leads and win the game, but it just wasn't in the cards for that day. Utica headed into the bye week with a 5-2 record (0-2 in Empire 8 play), looking to prepare themselves for a strong Ithaca team for two weeks to gain their first conference win.
Facing The Bombers
After splitting the two games before the bye week, Utica College headed to Ithaca College to take on the Bombers. Ithaca is and always has been a powerhouse in the Empire 8 and has had a few close encounters with the Pioneers over the past few years.
Last year, Ithaca came to Gaetano Stadium ranked 20th in the nation and the Pioneers came out with a 24-14 lead at the half. Utica was unable to close out the game and gave up five turnovers in the second half, leading to 13 unanswered points and a three point loss to the Bombers. Coming off a close, tough loss at Springfield in their last game and the rememberance of that blown opportunity against a nationally ranked Bombers team last season, I was looking to see Utica come out playing very hard. The questions remains, would they be able to close out the game?
As closing out the game was not the issue, getting anything started on offense was the issue. The Pioneers got their youth exposed and lost in a 30-6 beat down. There are no words to be spoken after this loss other than the fact that it's time to regroup, reevaluate and get ready to beat the shit out of Hartwick and get the mindset ready to close out the season with two consecutive wins and not getting shut out by the E8 on the season.
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.