The LIU Post Football team (8-3) captured its first Northeast-10 Conference Championship since 2006 on Saturday, Nov. 15, with a 58-25 rout of American International (8-3) at Ronald J. Abdow Field in Springfield, Mass.
After a scoreless opening quarter, the Pioneers capitalized on an interception from sophomore defensive back Ryan Renfroe in AIC territory. Five snaps later, LIU Post senior quarterback and Manhasset native Steven Laurino completed a screen pass to sophomore running back David White, which resulted in a 20-yard dash into the end-zone for the opening score of the contest.
The Yellow Jackets responded with 16 unanswered points to grab a nine-point cushion late in the second quarter. A late second quarter drive by the Pioneers set up senior kicker Karsten Viste, who nailed a 22-yard field goal to reduce the gap to 16-10 at the break.
LIU Post owned the second half, outscoring the hosts by an overwhelming 48-9 margin. Following an AIC three-and-out, the visitors put together a quick drive culminating with a Laurino scamper into the end-zone for a two-yard score. American International responded with a touchdown of their own to go back in front 23-17, but the Pioneers would not be denied the championship trophy.
LIU Post went on to score three consecutive touchdowns to grab a commanding 37-25 advantage. The run was book-ended by 25- and five-yard passes from Laurino to Pioneer senior wideout Kamron Palmer, sandwiching a 28-yard strike from the signal caller to Pioneer sophomore receiver Shane Hubbard.
Leading by two possessions, the visitors kept their foot on the gas, as they took a 44-25 lead after Laurino found Palmer for a third score on a 72-yard completion.
A surprise onside kick followed, as the Pioneers jumped on top of the loose ball at the AIC 21-yard line. Three plays later, LIU Post sophomore running back Mike Williams ran the ball in from 10 yards out to seal the victory.
Laurino continued to shine down the stretch of his collegiate career, completing 30-of-57 passes for a season-high 413 yards and five touchdowns. He scrambled for 61 yards and a score as well. White and Williams also pitched in with touchdowns on the ground. Hubbard hauled in 10 catches for a career-high 172 yards and a touchdown, while Palmer had five receptions for 118 yards and three scores.
The Pioneers’ defense saw senior linebacker Anthony Brunetti lead the charge with 10 tackles, while sophomore defensive back Jared Chester and freshman defensive back Richard Wright had nine tackles apiece. Junior defensive back Jahleel Oswald recorded eight stops, forced a fumble and a broke up a pass.
Head football coach Bryan Collins and the Pioneers earned a bid to the NCAA Division II championship. Ranked No. 6 in Super Regional One, they will be traveling to Petersburg, Va. this weekend to take on the No. 3 ranked Virginia State University. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22.
This article was originally published in the Pioneer, the award-winning student newspaper of LIU Post, www.liupostpioneer.com, and is republished here by Blank Slate Media with the permission of the Pioneer.