Football Scores 30 Second-Half Points; Rolls Past AIC, 33-8 in Opener
BROOKVILLE, N.Y. – The offense exploded for 30 second-half points and the defense allowed just 201 yards of total offense as the LIU Post football team opened the 2018 season with a 33-8 victory against American International College at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium September 8. It was a dominating performance across the board for the Pioneers who found themselves in a defensive struggle during the first half. The defensive efforts proved to be enough, however, as LIU Post forced four turnovers on the day and helped jumpstart the offensive unit during the second half. 370 yards of offense helped the Green and Gold hold a 21-9 advantage in first downs and a 38:31-21:29 edge in time of possession. A balanced rushing attack consisting of redshirt-senior Malik Pierre, graduate student Chris Laviano, and redshirt-freshman Jonathan DeBique compiled over 60 rushing yards apiece, led by Pierre's 64 yards and one touchdown. Laviano came to life in the second half during his Pioneer debut under center as well, finishing the day 14-of-24 for 156 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive side, sophomore Abdoulaye Konate compiled a team-high 10 tackles and one fumble recovery, while graduate student Kevin Petit-Frere caused havoc all day, adding nine tackles with two quarterback hurries. Following a scoreless opening quarter, senior Joey Tolgyesi rocketed a career-long 49-yard field goal for the game's opening points, a mark that the Pioneers carried into the locker room at the half after Yellow Jacket kicker Gianni Romeo missed a 33-yard attempt as time expired to end the stanza. The tides changed early in the second half. Redshirt-senior Kasim Thomas intercepted American International's Kwame Jarvis' pass on the opening play of the half after redshirt-senior Patrick Williamsdefelcted the attempt at the line of scrimmage. The Pioneers could not take advantage of the excellent field position, settling for a 32-yard field goal from Tolgyesi to extend the lead to 6-0 early in the third quarter. After a forcing a three-and-out, the Green and Gold put together a 14-play, 94-yard drive, capped off by a one-yard rushing touchdown by junior Tim Marinan. Senior Jake Carlock continued the defensive momentum when he stripped Tommy Smith at the American International 43-yard line. Konate dove on the loose ball, setting up the Pioneers with a 1st-and-10 in Yellow Jacket territory. Laviano wasted no time taking advantage, hooking up with redshirt-senior Deon Mash down the left sideline to give LIU Post a 20-0 lead at the end of the third quarter. For the second-straight stanza, the Pioneers intercepted Jarvis on the first play of the period as senior Connor Farrell snagged the attempt that was tipped by redshirt-sophomore Joe Amalfitano. Again, Laviano took a shot to the end zone looking for redshirt-senior Michael Hartgrove. The Valley Stream native made a highlight-reel one-handed catch in the back of the end zone, but the touchdown was negated by an offensive pass interference call. That did not stop the Pioneers, however, as Pierre scampered in for a 10-yard score five plays later, putting LIU Post ahead 26-0. American International scored its only touchdown of the afternoon on its first drive of the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Jordan Hiscoe found Christian Dargan for a 53-yard touchdown strike. The Pioneer offense continued to roll on the ensuing possession, burning 7:31 of clock on another 14-play touchdown drive that ended in a three-yard rushing touchdown for redshirt-freshman Matt Zelaya, the first of his career. LIU Post improves to 1-0 after the week-one bye, while the Yellow Jackets fall to 0-1 after also hosting their bye during week one. The Pioneers will look to keep the momentum going next week when they travel to Stonehill College for a 6:00 p.m. showdown with the Skyhawks at W.B. Mason Stadium. Live stats, video, and audio are available at www.liupostpioneers.com. Fans making the trip to Easton, Mass. can purchase tickets at www.stonehillskyhawks.com.