Utica, N.Y. -- November 5, 2011 – The Springfield College football team racked up 437 yards rushing and held Utica College scoreless in the final three quarters on its way to a 40-14 victory in Empire 8 Conference play Saturday afternoon at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium. It was Springfield's final Empire 8 contest, and Head Coach Mike DeLong's 300th game of his 30-year career.
The Pioneers jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first 4:17 of the contest, but they were unable to find the end zone for the remainder of the game as they dropped to 5-4 overall and 2-4 in conference play. Springfield used its triple option ground game to manage the time of possession, 38:49 – 21:11, and the Pride outscored UC 34-0 in the final 51:49 of the contest to improve its record to 6-3 overall and 4-3 in the E8.
The Pioneers came out of the gates firing, scoring on a 36-yard flea-flicker from junior quarterback Andre Benkwitt to sophomore receiver Anthony Acevedo, to earn a 7-0 lead just 59 seconds into the contest. Springfield answered right back on its ensuing possession, driving 66 yards on seven plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown run from the conference's leading rusher Josh Carter, to cut the Utica lead to 7-6.
It took just 21 seconds for the Pioneers to respond and on the first play of their next possession senior wide receiver Jeremy Meier took a handoff 60 yards to pay dirt to give UC a 14-6 lead with 10:43 to go in the first quarter. But that proved to be the Pioneers final touchdown of the afternoon as Springfield's defense held Utica to just 42 yards rushing for the remainder of the contest.
Carter went right back to work, guiding the nation's leading rushing attack to a game-tying touchdown on their next possession to knot the score at 14-14 with 6:49 left in the first quarter. Carter would leave the game in the second quarter, but he still managed to rush for a game-high three touchdowns, giving him 23 TD's this season.
The Pride slowly chopped away at the Pioneers for the remainder of the contest, totaling four more touchdown runs to earn the 26 point victory. Junior half back Mike Davis led Springfield with 164 yards and one rushing touchdown, while senior half back Mark Safer added 92 yards rushing and two touchdowns to pace the Pride's attack.
Five different Pioneers recorded at least five tackles. Leading the way was junior captain Genaro Scampone, who posted 11 tackles. Sophomore safety Eric Rindo added 10 tackles, while Jon White, Luke Manolescu and Dana Christofferson each posted nine stops for Utica.
UC went a combined 2-of-14 on third and fourth down conversions and they were forced to punt four times throughout the contest. Utica went 0-for-3 in the red zone, while the Pride's offense went a perfect 5-for-5 inside the 20 yard line. Springfield's defense also amassed an incredible eight pass break-ups to halt the conference's top passing attack.
Junior linebacker Kevin Shields led the Springfield defense with a team-high 10 tackles and he also picked off Benkwitt once. Matt Ramos and Dan Macalena each added seven stops for the Pride.
Utica returns to action next Saturday when it travels to Alfred University for its final regular season contest of the season. Springfield will end its regular season at Union in a noon-time start